Child of Vengeance
- UK/Commonwealth, Simon and Schuster, Feb 28th 2013
- North America, Doubleday, March 13th 2013
- Germany - as 'Ronin - Das Buch der Vergeltung' - Rowohlt, Sept 2013
- Italy - as 'L'Onore del Samurai' - Newton Compton, Summer 2013
- France - as 'Le Samourai' - Albin Michel, Feb 26th 2014
- Holland - as 'De Erecode van de Samoerai' - Karakter, May 15th 2014
A bold and vivid historical epic of feudal Japan, based on the exploits of the legendary samurai Musashi Miyamoto...
Japan in the late sixteenth century was a land in turmoil. Lords of the great clans constantly vied for position, generating countless tales of scheming and intrigue. Bound by a rigid code of honour, the aristocratic samurai were left to execute their lords' designs whatever the cost. Death defined these warriors' very existence; they could be commanded to die by their lord at any time to prove their loyalty and strength of spirit. A dishonourable end would bring shame upon an entire family - for generations to come.
The man would come to be known as Musashi Miyamoto however was almost diametrically opposed to this stance. He spent most of his life wandering Japan without a lord, searching for enlightenment and honing his legendary sword skills. His collection of writings on strategy and bearing in life, The Book of Five Rings, illustrated his thoughts quite succinctly: though he was unafraid of death, he did not long for it; rather, he yearned to be a master of all things by and for himself.
But at the age of thirteen, the highborn yet lonely teenager, whose given name is Bennosuke, finds himself deeply disconnected from he rest of his village. His mother died when he was a young boy, and his samurai father, Munisai, has abandoned his son in service to his lord, Shinmen. Bennosuke has been raised by his uncle Dorinbo, a monk of Shinto who urges the boy to forgo the violence of war and embrace the contemplative life.
Instead, Bennosuke worships his absent father, who has become a loyal commander in Lord Shinmen's army. Munisai had channeled his long-held anger, guilt and grief into strength on the battlefield - a trait that has helped him ascend the ranks - but shifting alliances outside of his control have left the fearsome warrior indebted to the odious Nakata clan. The escalating consequences of this feud are profound, forcing Bennosuke to confront harsh truths about his family history and his own place within it. Now he must walk the samurai's path - awash with blood, bravery and vengeance - embarking on a journey that will culminate in the epochal battle of Sekigahara, where Bennosuke will proclaim his name as Musashi Miyamoto for the first time.
“Kirk presents 17th-century Japan as a world imbued with stately
rituals, unshakable principles and a rigid moral code…. sure to be
compared to Clavell’s work in its superb depiction of samurai culture.”
"This historical debut rips along at the speed of a deftly wielded, flashing katana sword....Well anchored in history, beliefs, and traditions of feudal Japan, this novel is a personal psychological trip...educational, engrossing, and just plain fun-to-read....should appeal to a wide variety of readers, especially those who loved James Clavell's Shogun."
--Library Journal, starred review
"A brilliant piece of historical fiction --- loaded with treachery and betrayal --- that pulses with life. This one is going to find an honored place on many a keeper shelf. It's a must read debut from an exciting new voice."
--Steve Berry, New York Times Bestselling author of The Columbus Affair
"A fascinating, exciting book, beautifully observed. Kirk avoids clichés at every turn, and creates characters of great depth. An absolute gem."
--Conn Iggulden, New York Times Bestselling author of Genghis: Birth of an Empire
"I've been fascinated by Musashi Miyamoto since I first read The Book of Five Rings in college. David Kirk's Child of Vengeance
restores my faith in historical fiction to bring lost worlds to life.
Bravo! The keenest and most vivid evocation of the inner life of the
East since James Clavell's Shogun.”
--Steven Pressfield, New York Times Bestselling author of Gates of Fire
proves himself a worthy samurai novelist with this brutal account of
real-life 17th-century swordsman Musashi Miyamoto… Kirk, who lives in
Japan, positively seethes with energy when depicting bloody
violence—from great battlefields to intimate ritual suicide—showing
feudal Japan as a complex culture in which cunning and poetry are
indispensable, and death and vengeance unavoidable."
"This is the book I've been waiting for! Razor sharp samurai action coupled with a brutally realistic vision of life in sixteenth-century Japan, a real find."
--Anthony Riches, author of Wounds of Honour
The original title was The Children of Amaterasu. The next title was The Sanctity of Vengeance.
I consider Child of Vengeance my first and third novels. I started writing it when I left the UK in 2008, finished a draft of about 190,000 words two years later, wrote another book (which I shipped around to publishers and got soundly rejected), then came back to it. I almost entirely rewrote it, I would estimate perhaps 10% of the original writing survives, though the plot structure is broadly similar. Cut elements included a five page retelling of the Japanese creation myth, Tasumi shopping for abacuses, and Part III featuring Musashi acting as a spy...
There is a lot of historical nonsense in the book, but it is well meaning nonsense. Foremost perhaps is the character of Dorinbo. He is portrayed as a monk of Shinto, whereas in reality he was Buddhist... and I'm not even sure monks of Shinto exist. However, as Musashi gets heavily into Buddhism later in his life I wanted to discuss Shinto when I had the chance, so Dorinbo had his faith changed arbitrarily. Such is the power of the author.
The UK edition contained a historical note explaining a bit more in detail the fact/fiction division of the novel. The US edition was lacking this - though I believe it got recycled into various promotional materials - so for the sake of curious American readers, you can find it here.