Tokiyuki Houjou is hiding in Suwa under the protection of Yorishige, who continues to mould the young lord into a worthy heir and reclaim his title. However, Ogasawara has taken control of the nearby region and wants more.
The Elusive Samurai (Volume 2) – Ogasawara 1333
Yorishige has put on an event to raise the morale of the region – dog shooting, a sport where mounted archers attempt to hit dogs with blunt arrows to score points. It was a popular sport at the time, although Yorishige’s ability to see the future has him conflicted, knowing that it would be seen as barbaric, even in the context of a work of historical fiction… Anyhow, Ogasawara, one of the men that betrayed the Houjou clan has been awarded the neighbouring region and as such has come to show off his skills.
After an impressive performance, he challenges Yorishige to a contest. If he wins, he will search the region for Houjous uninterrupted. He knows that Yorishige cannot easily refuse such a wager in front of his own people. Of course, he does one better and ups the stakes and reveals who will face him. Tokiyuki will be his opponent. No better place to hide than in plain sight. However, Ogasawara is a masterful archer and Tokiyuki is not. Yorishige gives him some advice, preparing him for a tough learning experience.
When Tokiyuki wins, Ogasawara turns tail and leaves. However, he’s back before long with a command from the Emperor, granting him part of Yorishige’s lands. In order to stop him from enforcing it, Tokiyuki enlists a young thief to steal the command, buying them time. The time of the ninja is almost upon us!
What did you think?
This was another fascinating journey into the past of the samurai, especially as we’re seeing the emergence of the ninja. Of course, this volume has the same feel as the first one with some larger-than-life characters and fun action scenes. Tokiyuki is a great character to bring it all together, essentially gathering a vast collection of retainers ready to reclaim his birthright.
I actually thought having Yorishige worrying about the appearance of the dog shooting was a great choice. It is a part of history and while we don’t want to see things like that today, it’s ridiculous to try to pretend it never happened. Using him this way, the author was able to show that they didn’t agree with the practice but it needed to be included for historical accuracy. And frankly, the historical elements are the most interesting parts. The characters just give it life. This is a very interesting series. I’m looking forward to reading more.