In the year 1608, during the reign of shogun Hidetada Tokagawa, two northern clans found themselves at odds. The Yoshimura clan and the Oda clan knew they were soon to be in open warfare and with that in mind the Oda clan attacked the Yoshimura castle killing every man woman and child save, Akiko, their eldest daughter and four retainers.
Lady Samurai is a very well written book that tells a fabulous story from the perspective of a female samurai. The chapters flow easily from one to another and once you start reading the book you just can’t put it down. I read the entire book at one sitting. Mr. Kilpatrick is a wonderful story teller. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to step back in time to the samurai period of the 17th century.
– Santosh Patel
The next morning, Akiko was up early. She ate a warm breakfast and hugged her father, mother and baby brother goodbye. Toshi avoided her hug and bowed to her as she set out with her bodyguard of Saiki, Tomiyuki, Yuuki and Nashito. The four were her father’s retainers and had been in the family for more than ten years. They were loyal to the core.
The trip to the secret house was almost nine ri, so she set a brisk clip. The snow wasn’t falling very heavily but it was chilly as they moved among the trees, never following a path but moving in a general direction. After several hours she was feeling a little tired.
“Akiko-sama, do you wish to stop and rest?” said Saiki.
“No, let’s press on another hour,” she said. “How far do you think we have come?”
“I would say around three ri, Akiko-sama. You have set a hard march, even for a samurai.”
Saiki bowed and moved forward to lead the way. Akiko liked Saiki; he was just three years older than she, and he had a nice smile and made her feel safe when he was with her.
The hour passed quickly, and Akiko was feeling the strain. Her leg muscles ached when she finally called a halt. Tomiyuki and Nashito built a small fire and placed a mat on the ground after sweeping away the snow so Akiko could sit.
Saiki stood guard while they ate rice balls. Yuuki took a rice ball and started off to check what lay ahead while the others ate. Akiko took a rice ball to Saiki. He took it and slowly peeled the leaves that covered it. He bowed and then looked back into the forest. The snow was falling harder now; not too hard, although Saiki noted that Yuuki’s footsteps were slowly disappearing.
“We should move on, Akiko-sama. We don’t want to lose our way.”
“Tomiyuki, Nashito: bring up the rear; I will walk with Akiko-sama.”
They all moved off, following Yuuki’s footprints, which were growing fainter. In his mind Saiki estimated that they had traveled almost six ri. They continued, but with each step it appeared the snow was falling harder and the sun had already begun to set. Two hours passed, and the falling snow made it almost impossible to move. The wind had increased, and snow was blowing parallel to the ground. Akiko leaned on Saiki with the other two samurai close behind. Then, as if by a miracle, there was Yuuki standing by a tree.
“Here! The house is over here,” he called out. “I have a fire built and was headed back to find you.”
“Arigato, Yuuki-san,” said Akiko. She and Saiki broke into a small clearing. The warmth of the house was just steps away.
Yuuki slid the shoji door open, and the warm air blasted into their faces. It felt so good. Tomiyuki and Nashito followed quickly. They all sat around the brazier, warming themselves.