When you think of Japan, certain images come to mind, like cherry blossoms, geisha and samurai. The role of men in Japanese society has been explored in many stories, so when a novel focuses on women, there’s something new to explore. This is the case with The Shogun’s Queen, written by Lesley Downer. The book is set during the 1850s, when Japan was starting to get in touch with the rest of the world and the western nations were muscling in. The protagonist is a young Japanese woman called Okatsu, who’s sent to the women’s palace of Edo Castle to marry the shogun and convince him to save Japan and its culture.
How does a legend begin? It’s a story that’s passed down from person to person. Over time, it becomes grander and more embellished until no one’s quite sure what’s true and what isn’t. But a legend lasts forever. The power of stories and how they shape history is one of the main themes explored in James Wilde’s Pendragon. The historical novel is set during the Roman occupation of Britain and lays the foundations for what will become the legend of King Arthur.
“Time is a river, a violent current of events, glimpsed once and already carried past us, and another follows and is gone.” – Marcus Aurelius
Choosing to live a good life can be harder than some people think, and everyone seems to have their own definition of what a ‘good life’ means. Is it about personal happiness? Is it about living for your family and making sure they are prosperous? Such questions have been asked for millennia and they’re popular topics for self-help books. Marcus Aurelius’ Mediations could very well be the first self-help book. The Roman Emperor was a very critical man and he questioned his own motives at a time when excess and decadence were the norm. Here is The Culture Tome’s review of the book.
Japanese history is a rich tapestry of events, and it’s intriguing to read books that can capture it in a fictional sense. I recently picked up An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro has established himself as a talented storyteller and I was drawn to the novel because of my fascination with Japan. The book features a post WW2 Japan recovering from its scars and looking towards the future.
I’ve been fascinated with Japanese history for a while now, particularly with the samurai and their code of Bushido. They dedicated themselves to ‘the way of the warrior’ and lived by its principles in the pursuit of a perfect death. After reading Bushido: The Way Of The Samurai I feel like I’ve got a broader view of what Bushido stands for. The book, based on Tsunetomo Yamamoto’s Hagakure, was edited by Justin F Stone. Here are my thoughts on the book.
Hell, March 13, 1919
They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.
Ray Celestin’s debut novel, The Axeman’s Jazz, begins with a macabre letter that sets the tone for the rest of the book. The story is set in New Orleans in 1919 and is built around the real life case of the Axeman. The letter was written by the real killer, making the novel even more intriguing.
It’s safe to say that Wonder Woman is one of the most recognisable superheroes in the world. As Princess of the Amazons, Diana is the perfect balance of strength and beauty. But how closely does she live up to the real life Amazons? This is one of many questions that are addressed in John Man’s Amazons: The Real Warrior Women of the Ancient World. The book takes the reader through the entire history of the women who became known as the Amazons, and the answers might surprise you.