Eternal Samurai B.D.Heywood
I received this from the author in return for an honest review. I don’t gush and give false praise – I don’t believe that helps readers or authors so what you read is what I truly feel about a book.
I enjoy books with backgrounds set in the Eastern part of the world – good ones immerse the reader in the culture and though this one is set in a future world based in Seattle, USA many of the main characters are Japanese as the title suggests, and there’s lots of references to lifestyles and culture. It adds an extra dimension to the reading experience, the novel being peppered with Japanese references of history and language. Most of the language used is just odd words or phrases and the meanings clear from the context, with occasional translations to assist reader but done as part of the speech to another character. I felt that worked really well, giving a flavour of the people without confusing reader.
Then there’s another of my weaknesses – vampires and romance. The vampires are “out” to the world, acknowledged and living mainly in an uneasy truce with humans, They have their indentured “feeders” and of course some of them are simply bloodthirsty killers, others are fine for a while but subject to blood-lust and frenzy at any given time. It keeps the humans (and the readers) wondering if those who are on the side of humanity can really be trusted, when they have to keep such a tight control on themselves and may turn without warning.
The romance – its really emotive starting with a monk Saito Arisada in 12th century Japan and his young acolyte lover. Koji Nowaki, the young lover, betrayed the monastery and caused the temple and its inhabitants to be slaughtered. Arisada feels his honour has been lost and only stays alive long enough to see over the quick final death of the other minks who commit ritual suicide rather than be caught by invaders. This means his death with be slow and painful but he feels that’s what he deserves..however that’s not what happens of course.
Fast forward to Seattle 2024 and we see Arisada is still alive, he’s a vampire and Primary to a vicious, power-hungry tyrant. He meets Tatsu Cobb, last member of an ancient Samurai house who is out for vengeance for the slaughter of his family. He realises Tatsu is the reincarnation of his lover Kojii and his quest for retribution will be over when he kills him – but then love intervenes.
Its an epic novel of love and vengeance, jealousy, retribution, betrayals and forgiveness. There are some bloodthirsty moments but as one who shys away from anything too gory (I know – I’m a wimp) I didn’t have a problems with the scenes here thankfully. The story itself is fascinating giving hints of just how honour and loyalty shaped the lives of the Samurai. The world created for the bulk of this book is set in a future where there has been twin disasters in 2012 devastating normal civilisation, where a virus is released that has created vampires and in the US allowing them to thrive. There are groups of hired mercenary hunters – out to kill the worst vampires when they can, that plot to keep a semblance of controls the authorities simply can’t cope.
When Tatsu and Arisada meet the sexual chemistry is volatile – Arisada knows who Tatsu is the reincarnation of, but Tatsu knows nothing of Arisada except that he is a vampire,and he hates vampires for killing his family. He doesn’t yet know that Arisada has a connection to the killer of his line. They fight against their attraction, but inevitably there are moments when they give in, and those moments are erotic, sensual and very hot! Arisada struggles between his need for vengeance that has sustained him over 800 years with the knowledge that Tatsu has returned as his soul-mate. For Tatsu the struggle is his attraction to a potentially deadly vampire warring with his hatred of them for killing his family.
There are other characters too that fill the tale, a few from Tatsu as he grows up and the main Hunters (called Lepers, with the groups being the Leper Colony) and we learn part of their motivation. I found them to be characters that seemed realistic and they worked well in the group and added to the realism of the tale. In the main they are men – there are very few women in this novel – so the sex scenes are all male/male but I found them very well written and not overdone. They are very graphic and explicit and the warning needs to be taken that if that offends you then don’t buy this novel.
Its a long book – just what I love, a chance to really get immersed in another world that only really works with novels of a decent length – we can really explore the backgrounds and motivations and emotions of the main characters. Its written in 3rd person and is one I’d happily re read. At 358 pages for £1.93 its fantastic value and I’m giving it a solid four and half stars; not quite a five star read but very close.
A previous reviewer comments on the editing – its clearly been extensively corrected as I found it almost faultless so no worries now about that. Its something that does crop up in kindle books from time to time and bad editing makes it difficult to enjoy a book but this was a real treat with no problems on that front.