TARO: Legendary Boy Hero of Japan by Blue Spruell

4/5 STARS – Folk Tale of Feudal Japan

I bought this on Amazon after taking a ‘look inside’ and was immediately drawn to the story which begins with a seven-year-old Takeda Taro.

I must confess that whilst I have not read many books set in feudal Japan I have an unsated interest in this genre of historical fiction that began when I read Shogun by James Clavell, one of the best books I have ever had the privilege of reading.

This story is the tale of TARO and the author explains before it is started that it is the amalgam of three different folk tales of our eponymous hero.  In simple terms, it is a story of how one young boy grew to unite all of Japan.

I found the book was well written and very engaging to read if not quite what I was expecting (which was entirely my fault since I skimmed the introductory references). It is a folk story and I was so engrossed at the beginning I was not prepared for the magical elements of the story to unfold. It made it more fairy-tale and was not quite what I was looking for in my said desire of reading about Feudal Japan. However, that would be a disservice to the book because the fantastical elements are crucial to the narrative. TARO’s story unfolds in a beautifully concise yet descriptive way that moves at a great pace that kept me engaged.

I would have liked it to have been longer, with more time taken over the adventure to turn into a proper tome but that is not suited to a folk tale I guess.  The fight and battle sequences imparted enough but brusquely, almost like a summarised account which worked, but again I would have preferred more time and detail. I could say the same about the various characters. There are so many interesting and intriguing ones, I just wanted to spend more time with them and see the interactions and relationships build and grow. But again, it is a folk tale told as a story so it is admirable that I should feel so invested in each character after such a short introduction.

Overall, I think this is a great read and I am so pleased I picked it up.   

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