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Child of Vengeance    by David Kirk order for
Child of Vengeance
by David Kirk
Order:  USA  Can
Anchor, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

David Kirk's Child of Vengeance is a historical novel based on the real-life exploits of the legendary samurai Musashi Miyamoto (author of The Book of Five Rings) in late sixteenth century Japan. Though the samurai code is at the heart of the novel, it is not glorified by the author - rather he has his character initially follow it blindly but ultimately reject it.

Musashi Miyamoto begins life as Bennosuke, son of a samurai father, Munisai (who won the title of the Nation's Finest), in service to Lord Shinmen. His mother having died, Bennosuke is raised by his uncle Dorinbo, a Buddhist monk who hopes that his nephew will follow in his footsteps. The village peasants tend to his needs but are fearful, and he believes (wrongly) that it is because of the ugly rash on his face and neck.

Bennosuke's father Munisai incurs the enmity of the powerful Nakata clan (with whom Lord Shinmen is allied), and especially of the Lord's spoiled son Hayato. Badly wounded in battle, he returns home to see his son for the first time in eight years. This is when Bennosuke learns the truth of his birth, of his samurai mother's death, and why his father has avoided him.

However he also impresses his father with his fighting skills and Munisai trains him. When Hayato and his henchmen show up, Bennosuke applies his skills well and grows closer to his father. Munisai gives him a sword and sends him away, knowing well that he cannot escape his fate at the hands of the Nakatas.

But soon they seek revenge on the son as well as the father, and Bennosuke embarks on a quest for vengeance under an invented name, that of Musashi Miyamoto. As Japan is engulfed in war, Bennosuke becomes a soldier, to eventually fight - and gain great fame - in the battle of Sekigahara. There he learns 'that death should not be cherished' and this knowledge changes his life.

In Child of Vengeance, David Kirk gives us a fascinating interpretation of the legend of Musashi Miyamoto. I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and/or has an interest in the martial arts.

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