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by Dale Furutani

William Morrow, 1999 $23.00

Reviewed by J. Ashley

This is the second book in the series featuring Matsuyama Kaze, a ronin (a lordless samurai) on a quest for the lost daughter of his dead lord and lady.

Kaze begins this adventure by fighting off bandits besieging a travelling merchant. He kills one and drives off the others, then agrees to accompany the merchant and his gold back to Kamakura.

Along the way, Kaze learns more about this merchant: his greed, his arrogance, his wealth, and his obsession for his young wife, Yuchan, who he keeps in luxury in his house in Kamakura.

When Kaze reaches Kamakura, he finds more wrong with the merchant and his household. The merchant's own samurai are more interested in gold than honor, the merchant's old nurse, a strange and evil woman, heads the household, and the merchant keeps his wife secluded in a house called the Jade Palace, which reposes in the middle of a lake on his estate.

Kaze remains in Kamakura and resumes his search for an old woman, her grandson, and servant, who have given him a clue to the whereabouts of his lord's daughter. During this search, Kaze learns of the true evil surrounding the merchant, his young bride, and his household, and comes to realize that through his own actions, he's made a grave and dishonorable mistake.

JADE PALACE VENDETTA continues the quest of Kaze, which was begun in DEATH AT THE CROSSROADS. Both books are set about 1603, between Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo), just after Tokugawa took power. Furutani evokes the beauty, mystery, and danger of old Japan, while telling a fascinating tale. Kaze is honorable, yet not arrogant, practical, and yet elegant.

The flashbacks and side stories distracted me somewhat, but through them, the reader learns Kaze's history and the history of ancient Japan.

I highly recommend this book and series.

Othe books by this author include: DEATH IN LITTLE TOKYO, and THE TOYOTOMI BLADES.

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