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Summary

For those looking for the real story behind the fictionalized movie account of the 47 Ronin story, this is the definitive, fascinating account of this unforgettable tale of a band of samurai who defied the Emperor to avenge the disgrace and death of their master, and faced certain death as a result. It led to one of the bloodiest episodes in Japanese history, and in the process, created a new set of heroes in Japan.

In 1701, young Lord Asano is goaded into attacking a corrupt official at the Japanese Court. Although the wound Asano inflicts is minimal, the Emperor's punishment is harsh: Lord Asano is ordered to commit seppuku, or ritual suicide. His lands are confiscated and his family is dishonored and exiled. His samurai retainers now become ronin, or masterless, and are dispersed.

These ronin are not trusted by their enemies and live under the watchful eyes of spies for months. They appear to adapt to their new circumstances by becoming tradesmen and teachers. But the ronin only seem to accept their fate. They are in fact making careful plans for revenge, biding their time until the moment to strike is right! Their deeds became Japan's most celebrated example of bravery, cunning, and loyalty in an age when samurai were heroes, and honor was worth dying for.

John Allyn's masterful retelling of 47 Ronin has long been considered the definitive version of these dramatic historical events.

©2012 Original material, Charles E. Tuttle Publishing Company, Inc. Recorded by arrangement with Tuttle Publishing. (P)2013 HighBridge Company

Critic reviews

"Narrator David Shih expertly brings to life this ancient Japanese tale, based on real-life events. Through Shih's interpretation, the listener can hear the determination and even the occasional misgivings of the characters as they plot their revenge. Shih's performance of the noble warriors is flawless, as is his depiction of the women who work in the pleasure houses, but long for more." ( AudioFile)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 05-11-14

Neither fish nor....

The publisher's notes suggest that in this book you can find the truth behind the classic Japanese story of the 47 Ronin (masterless samurai). That is only true if they were referring to the prologue which draws a clear line between the actual events and the fictionalized account presented by the author. This sets up an interesting tension which is clearly troubling for some people. The Ronin and their single minded leader are tainted by the clarifications in the prologue, so that there is a persistent "but" stalking the entire narrative of the book.

Nonetheless, the story is fascinating, deeply rooted in a culture which is profoundly alien for a Western reader in many ways. It develops slowly but very steadily, as successful revenge plots almost always do, and provides a pretty respectable emotional punch. I found more than enough tension along the way to keep me engaged, and the well drawn details of the daily life of the characters successfully drew me into that distant time and place in a very satisfying way. This is NOT an action adventure, however. Its appeal is in the gradual, carefully contained progress toward an explosive and appropriate ending. And, for me at least, in the nagging tension between the popular story and the uncomfortable facts which lie behind it. As a result, this is not a book for someone looking for authentic history, nor will it satisfy the listener who wants to be left breathless at the end of each chapter. If, on the other hand, you want to read it purely for the beauty of the classic story, I suggest you simply skip the prologue.

I had no problem with David Shih's narration, but other reviewers did. I suggest you check the sample reading before you invest a credit. It is taken from the prologue, but it is representative of the style and quality of the vocal work.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • G. Parish
  • 26-03-15

Ignore the forward

The dark forward is a bit of twisting of the facts and, despite how it is portrayed, is not terribly accurate in the context of the culture of the time. Having said that the main tale is exactly the story of honor, duty, and the epic tale that comes from it that you expect. Skip the forward and you'll love this.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Erik
  • 08-07-14

A solid rendition of a classic tale

This a great non-European/American classic, which makes it rare in it's own right. The background at the beginning, which outlines the known historical facts that make up the framework of the story, enhances the work that follows. The narrator was a bit flat, and perhaps could have changed cadence more emphatically as the story required, but on the whole his narration was adequate.

While a great classic, on which many movies have been based, it is not a convoluted tale. It follows the line of Samurai master is ordered to commit suicide, and loyal followers eventually extract revenge. The more interesting aspect of the tale concerns the personalities and deceptions leading to the revenge attack. It also paints an interesting description of Japanese culture 300 years ago.

So, give this audio book a listen, especially if you are not familiar with the story through movies. You should find it worth your time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • R. Walsh
  • 21-06-16

Enjoyable, not cathartic

The narration is excellent. The story is enjoyable and well paced. Overall, it held my interest but did not challenge of change my life in any way .

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  • Mstv01
  • 01-06-16

Very Interesting take on a true event

The history is true, the events actually happened in the manner described in the story, perhaps even the dialog is accurate because the group of Ronin were kept in royal custody for awhile and were greatly admired. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to think that they told their story while alive.

Entertaining historical story on the Samurai codes of conduct and the actions of a highly honored group, plus, not terribly gory in descriptions.

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  • BigbobbieK
  • 28-05-16

listen to the forward last

The Foreword contains a lot of interesting information regarding the actual historical event this book is based on. But it contains many spoilers to the story, as it contrasts the dramatization to the historical event. I skipped it, listened to the novelization of the event, then revisited the Foreword for some historical context, and was not displeased. I definitely recommend listening to the Foreword, but not before finishing the story.

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  • matt
  • 09-02-16

Beautifully Real!

This was the absolute best story read and narrated! Simply Unique! I loved it!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew
  • 27-01-16

Entertaining Classic

Any additional comments?

This book is an entertaining classic Japanese story of honor and revenge, I quite enjoyed it.

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  • D. Zink
  • 10-12-15

Not historically accurate but who cares?

I love the story but it's pretty much a myth. Like many myths, the graves and artifacts were created after-the-fact but I never let that interfere with my enjoyment of a good story and you shouldn't either.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • P. Kelley
  • 05-10-15

Interesting story - performance not so much

What did you love best about 47 Ronin?

An interesting look into one of the important stories of Japan culture, of which I am quite ignorant.

Would you be willing to try another one of David Shih’s performances?

No. I found his breathing so intrusive as to make it difficult to follow the story.

Who was the most memorable character of 47 Ronin and why?

The main character (no idea how to write his name), i.e. the samurai in charge of the group.

Any additional comments?

This book has awakened enough interest that I will read a history of Japan. I find their culture difficult to understand, and fascinating.