Monday, September 2, 2013

Book Review: The Shogun's Daughter

The Shogun's Daughter (Sano Ichiro, #17)
The Shogun's Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The Shogun has only one child, a daughter named Tsuruhime. But Tsuruhime dies of smallpox and has left no heir. There will be no one to lead the kingdom after the Shogun dies and he is getting on in age. The death of the Shogun's daugther comes at a very trying time -- an earthquake has wreaked havoc on the country and rebuilding will take so much time and resources.

Up until Tsuruhime died, the Shogun had no other known heirs (there were rumors that he was actually gay) until he suddenly names a teenaged boy, Yoshisato as his son. The 17 year old boy has always been known to everyone as being the illegitimate son of Yanasigawa who is an advisor to the Shogun.

There are people who doubt that Yoshisato is truly the Shogu's flesh and blood. Among them is Sano Ichiro who believes that it is a play by Yanasigawa to grab hold to power when the Shogun dies. To complicate matters, Tsuruhime's mother is convinced that her daughter was murdered and that someone planted a blanket previously used by someone who died of smallpox in order to ensure Tsuruhime caught the fatal disease.

Twuruhime's mother comes to Sano to ask him to conduct investigations to uncover the murderer of the Shogun's daughter. But Sano is no longer as influential as he once was -- Yanasigawa has made sure of that. Sano's wife Reiko is pregnant and very worried about her husband. With Yanasigawa making things difficult for Sano, their lives may change at an instant and she has a son and an unborn child to worry about.

Yoshisato, upon being named as the successor, has been moved to a special home which is made for the shogun-in-waiting. A fire breaks out at Yoshisato's new home and as the people living nearby douse the flames, they find that there are no survivors. Sano is among the people who had been helping to fight the fire. As he tries to investigate how the fire may have started, he finds some very suspicious items but then he is seen holding on to them and gets arrested. Sano is now charged with murdering Yoshisato. What will become of Sano and his family.

Laura Joh Rowland's book is set in the year 1704 in feudal Japan. Although the story revolves around the intricate web of politics reminiscent of the era, the story leaves something to be desired. The Shogun's Daughter is supposed to be a "whodunit" or a mystery-thriller except that there is nothing thrilling about it.

The detection skills of Sano's family leaves a lot to be desired. The book reads like it was meant for young kids. I definitely wanted (and expected) the characters to have much more substance to them. I did enjoy the politics though which is why I gave the book two stars.


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