The Swords of Silence

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„The Swords of Silence” is a historical novel written by Shaun Curry. I was really intrigued when I found this book on NetGalley. Even though it’s not fantasy (that’s how it was categorised there), Japanese culture always seems interesting for me, so I requested this book right away. 
The book is starting with a scene in the prologue where Japanese magister is crucifying and burning Christian prisoners. That gives us the feeling of the times where the action is set for the novel. Other religions are no longer accepted in Japan, as Shogun sees them, especially Christianity, as a threat to his authority. He and only he should be treated like a god, and only his word should be the law. And so, Christianity has become forbidden in the whole country, and its faithful followers are forced to recant or leave Japan for good. If they refuse, they not only be sentenced to a long and painful death. 
The start was captivating and exciting. The author very skillfully shows us Japanese culture, the Way of the Sword, the brutal reign of Shogun and his daymios and peasants, whose worthiness was measured in how much rice they could produce. I was really hooked on this book for the first few chapters, following valiant efforts of Father Martinez to save his Christian village from the Shogun’s wrath. Unfortunately, the excitement only stayed for maybe a hundred pages. 
After that, the book got really depressing and brutal. I know that the author wanted to show his readers the cold and hard reality of those dark times, but it was a bit too much for me. We follow poor Christians for hundreds of pages, while they get tormented, tortured, mutilated and treated like animals. And all this in vast and creative details. 
I could endure it all if the story was captivating and full of emotions. But all too quickly it turns out, that what supposed to be an exciting story was also like biblical tales of escaping Christians. We can easily handpick a character that was only in the book to reminds us of those archetypes from the Bible. And even if they got tortured all killed, I couldn’t care less, because it all seemed emotionless for me, following a known scheme, with ending we could easily guess.
The one solid point of the book was the duel scenes. I think they were written brilliantly and was very easy to imagine them step by step. Those I read with high interest, not stopping for a moment. But unfortunately, there wasn’t enough of them to keep me interested, and I was really struggling to finish this book. I think if I didn’t take this book to review, I would probably just leave it unfinished. 
Maybe if you are not bothered by too much of religious preaching and brutal mutilation scenes, you will find this book interesting. Especially if you enjoy reading about Japanese culture. But otherwise, it won’t be a book I would recommend.
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This book just wasn't for me at all and I found it a slog to get through. It tells the story of Joaquim, a Christian missionary in Shogunate Japan in 1626 and the persecution of the Christians there.

The Positives: The only positive thing I can think of for this was that I enjoyed the tournament aspect of the narrative and the setting was fascinating, but it wasn't explored or done justice in the narrative.

The Negatives: The writing was dry and completely uninspiring, which is a shame, because this should have been a really interesting story. The dialogue was really wooden and stilted and the plot was very lacklustre.

Overall, I just didn't enjoy this book at all and wouldn't recommend it.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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A story of faith against a background of violence. The historical facts in this story are interesting, but the author's depiction of the violence of the time is graphic and becomes the main focus of the story. It is difficult to read,  and one questions whether so many brutal events are required, to make the point that it was dangerous to practice and preach anything that could be deemed to threaten the existing regime.

The main protagonist's faith never wavers, which although commendable, seems unlikely in the face of the danger he faces, and the depravity and violence his witnesses. This makes him hard to relate too, and therefore empathise, despite his goodness and piety. There is a lot of historical detail, which is too much for the story to carry at times. The short chapters do aid the novel's pacing.

The author talks about it not being up to him to soften the edges of history, but surely as this is a work of fiction based on historical facts, and fictional characters, he can portray events exactly as he wants?

I received a copy of this book from Harper Inspire via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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In the early years of the Tokugawa Shogunate all Christians were expelled from Japan. Those who remained, did so at the risk of torture and death. Father Joaquim Martinez, a Portuguese Jesuit, is one of those who chose to stay behind, spreading the word of the Lord. However, he can’t hide for ever and soon he finds himself fighting not just for his own life, but for the lives of the Arima villagers he has sworn to protect.

This was not an easy book to read, though not because the writing was particularly complex, or the themes especially unpalatable. No, this book simply isn’t a great read, and that’s a bit of a shame.

The main bulk of the narrative focuses on the trials and tribulations of Father Martinez as he comes face-to-face with the brutal reality of the Shogun’s hatred of all things Christian, and all that entails. Along the way he has to deal with several of the Shogun’s allies, including the brutally aggressive Daimyo Shigemasa, the brutally aggressive Governor of Nagasaki, Kawachi, and a whole host of brutally aggressive samurai. The problem is there’s nothing to differentiate the villains other than their names. They all come across as over-the-top, very angry, and very aggressively brutal, without any sort of nuance to separate them.

Fortunately for Father Martinez he has help, in the form of three wise old men. First there’s Yamaguchi, the sword master who teaches Martinez to be the best swordsman in all of Japan. Then there’s Watanabe, the mysterious and sagacious guide who teaches Martinez to unlock the miraculous power of the divine. And then there’s Kansuke, the Buddhist master who teaches Martinez the true power of compassion.

What could, and should, be a gripping, exhilarating read as the beleaguered Christians flee persecution at the hands of the Shogun and his allies ends up turning into a predictable tale in which belief in God trumps all adversity. The good guys literally walk on water and through fire to escape their pursuers, while the Portuguese priest proves himself a better swordsman and archer than every samurai he encounters. By the end of the book Father Martinez is all but performing miracles, including a laying on of hands and calling down an earthquake that pretty much destroys the thousands strong army ranged against him. There’s just too much deus ex machina going on for the story to ever develop any real tension.

The main message of most Christian fiction I’ve read is that if you trust in God then God will help you through the hard times, though usually that help comes in the form of the protagonist finding the answer within themselves. In this instance God is quite literally raising storms and moving mountains to help the protagonists, which seems a bit too much even for my tastes. I certainly won’t be rushing out to buy the sequel.
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This book may not be for everyone. To enjoy it I think you will have to have some interest in Japan and it’s culture. Maybe have a little knowledge about way the country used to be run by warlords and their armies of Samurai warriors.

For me this is book was a very enjoyable read, I have read many a non fiction book on Japan, it’s Warlords, Samurai warriors, Geisha’s and Concubines. So this is the sort of book I enjoy reading. I did notice that this book is classed as historical fiction, which I would expect but it’s also classed as Sci fi and Fantasy. In my opinion there wasn’t really anything Sci Fi and Fantasy in the book, but this is only book one in the trilogy. So maybe the Sci Fi and Fantasy come more into play in the next two books.

I’m really looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy and I hope that they are out sooner rather than later, as I’m impatient to find out how the story continues.


This story is set in 1626, when Japan was under the rule of the Shogun Iemitsu who was a tyrant to his people. The story is based around the life of Father Joaquim Martinez, who left his own country of Portugal to spread the word of God. For many years he has made his home in the Japanese Province of Hizen. Where he teaches the word of God and helps the people in the village with his guidance. The only problem is that the Shogun in charge of Japan has outlawed Christianity, as he is suspicious of them and what they are teaching his people.

The village were Father Joaquim Martinez lives is very poor, the villagers spend long days outside tending the paddy fields. They even need to have their children out working in the fields, as the local warlord keeps turning up demanding more and more taxes off the villagers. If the village can’t pay in gold then they have to pay with bags or rice. If the village doesn’t supply what he demands he then brutally punishes them, if any of the villagers speak out he has them killed.

One afternoon the warlord turns up unexpectedly. While Father Joaquim Martinez is out in the fields helping to gather in the rice, as the villagers are falling further and further behind with what the warlord is expecting from them. The warlord notices that some of the villagers are running back to the village instead of coming to see him. So he sends his Samurai to bring all of the villagers to him.

This is when he finds out that the villagers have a priest living amongst them. With this finding he told his Samurai to tear down every dwelling and bring everyone to him. They found that some of the parents had hidden their children, but they also find the other two Christians. So he orders the village to be burnt down and he, ties up the villagers in a sort of chain gang and walks them to the capital.

The treatment of the villagers becomes worse and worse on the long journey. If anyone fell or complained they would be beaten, it didn’t matter how old or how young you were. Some of the elderly and some of the very young struggled, but their parents and families couldn’t do anything to help them. The only comfort the villagers could get were the words spoken by Father Joaquim Martinez.

Father Joaquim Martinez did all he could to stand up for the people of the village, but it all fell on deaf ears or they were punished even more. Once they got to their destination and the warlord spoke with the powers that be he decided that he would split the women and children from the men and that he himself would escort the men to the Norther Island of Japan and gift the Priest, the other Christians and the men folk to the Shogun Iemitsu. As he knew that Shogun Iemitsu would especially enjoy torturing the Priest.

So the women and children were left behind to be tortured as they wanted them to renounce their Christianity. While the warlord and his Samurai marched the men to the north. The journey was long and arduous and very dangerous for the prisoners.

They eventually meet Shogun Iemitsu and Father Joaquim Martinez does everything he can to protect the villagers and himself. He manages to strike a deal with Shogun Iemitsu if he and his two other fellow Christians manage to fight his most esteemed Samurai worriers. Who will win? What will become of the villagers? That is for you to find out.

As I’ve already said this is a very good book and I’m looking forward to the next two. Shaun Curry the author knows his stuff when it comes to the history and culture of Japan. The way he has written this book he has brought Japaneses history to life.
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An excellent well researched read. I enjoyed this book the characters and "plot" were well presented and esy to follow although at times intriguing. The plot developed from start and wasn't revealed until the end of the book. During the read the story led you down several blind alleys until all was revealed
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A fantasy tale based on historical 17th century Japan that works in patches but stretches credulity in others. A Jesuit hero too good to be true, a village captured and removed to Nagasaki where all survive despite horrendous graphically described torture all culminating in a biblical conclusion! Ok but sadly not for me.
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Interesting fantasy work. I’m not a Hugh fantasy reader as the work’s are so often formulaic but I found this interesting and engaging to read. Different to the norm, especially with the Japanese setting
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Having read the background of Shaun Curry after reading Swords of Silence, I was taken back about the amount of research he has undertaken on that part of Japan’s history. Swords of Silence mixes Christian miracles with Shogun oppression to the point where I believe neither. Fantasy best describes the story.
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This was a very thought-provoking book and I learnt a lot about 17th century Japan and the persecution of Christians. Despite being a fiction, it was clear the author was very informed on the history and really captured the shocking events that occurred during this time. I enjoyed how the chapters were short and there wasn't a significant amount of world building which meant the story was more focused on the characters and their actions, making it a fast paced read. Definitely interested in continuing with the planned trilogy!
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Not for me I'm afraid. 

The prologue was really strong and made me want to read on.  I thought it was vivid and unsettling but the main story didn't keep that intensity. 

The main story, to me, felt very preachy and read like a non fiction book written with a definite agenda.  I didn't like the way the characters were written or where the story was trying to take me. 

I think this book will have an audience with the Christianity good, everything else bad brigade but outside of that group I think a lot of people will be as uncomfortable with it as I am.
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This sounded absolutely amazing so I couldn’t resist an opportunity to get stuck in early, i just don’t have enough patience to wait! 

I adore Lian Hearn and Julie Kagawas series, and have always been intrigued by both Japan and China so this seemed perfect for me to get engrossed in, and I wasn’t wrong.

The descriptions and situations are perfect, the writing style thoroughly engrossing and I loved or loathed characters by turns. 

This was certainly worth the read, and I can’t wait to see what comes next from the author! the names did take some getting used to, but once you do get used to it you will absolutely ADORE the story!!
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Struggled with this one, I don’t like to leave negative reviews, but it was just too violent for me, sorry
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This was a fascinating story but very brutal in parts. This put me off a bit but the story was so compelling that I kept going and it was worth it. Mans inhumanity to man defies logic.
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Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres but historical fiction based on real events in Japan isn't anything I've ever read before, and Japan's history is regrettably something I know little about. This book tells the harrowing story of the persecution of Christians by the Japanese in the early 17th Century, and starts with the execution of a number of Christians in June 1626. This first part of the book really sets the tone,  as it outlines the torture of the Christians prior to their execution and the horrific way their deaths had been organised to cause the maximum pain and suffering. The book then goes back a month and centres on the story of Father Joaquim, a Portugese Priest living in a small village who, inspired by his faith, decides to save his own flock. It's a difficult book to read at times and I'm aware it's the first in a trilogy, so some of the questions left unanswered in this book will presumably be answered in the next books in the series.
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A quite good and gripping historical fiction that I found engrossing and entertaining.
I read Silence by Shūsaku Endō so I knew the historical background and what to expect.
The plot is gripping even if a bit too violent but it's entertaining and well researched.
The characters are well thought and I liked the character development.
An interesting read, recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Historical fiction is my favourite way to learn about history and this book covers a previously unfamiliar period. So from this point of view reading this book was interesting. But the content was quite brutal and the writing did not grab me. Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
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I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley via Harper Collins Publishers. To be honest this book just wasn't one I enjoyed reading. There was just too much in the way of horror, killing, the buss of power etc. I am sure this has basis in historical fact but i was disturbed by its brutality.

It is a pacy and relatively easy to read narrative and I am sure it will find its own group of readers who enjoy it but it wasn't for me and I certainly won't be reading the rest in the series
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Sadly this book simply wasn't for me and so I had to mark it as a DNF. I don't like to not finish books but I found it difficult to get through and so will mark it as a 1 star.
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This is a piece of fiction based on real events that happened in seventeenth century Japan. Essentially the author covers a three month period that saw a Shogan determined to eradicate the blasphemous Jesuit Christians that he felt were a threat to both him and the way he ruled over his people. This was a brutal story and terrible things happen but it's told clearly and is very easy to read. I'm not someone who knows very much about Japanese history so did find this snapshot to be interesting. Alas I just didn't really connect with the characters as much as I would have liked which sadly is reflected by my rating but I will reiterate that this book had great merit and opened me up to now wanting to find out a lot more about the history and people of Japan.
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from NetGalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
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