Author: Laura Joh Rowland
Publisher: Minotaur books
Part of a Series: Sano Ichiro
Type of book: Japan, 1705, 1709, mystery, shogun responsibility, rumor vs reality, samurai, Bushido, honor, truth and justice, forbidden love, long time marriage
Year it was published: 2014
Japan, 1709. The shogun is old and ailing. Amid the ever-treacherous intrigue in the court, Sano Ichirō has been demoted from chamberlain to a lowly patrol guard. His relationship with his wife Reiko is in tatters, and a bizarre new alliance between his two enemies Yanagisawa and Lord Ienobu has left him puzzled and wary. Sano’s onetime friend Hirata is a reluctant conspirator in a plot against the ruling regime. Yet, Sano's dedication to the Way of the Warrior—the samurai code of honor—is undiminished.
Then a harrowing, almost inconceivable crime takes place. In his own palace, the shogun is stabbed with a fan made of painted silk with sharp-pointed iron ribs. Sano is restored to the rank of chief investigator to find the culprit. This is the most significant, and most dangerous, investigation of his career. If the shogun's heir is displeased, he will have Sano and his family put to death without waiting for the shogun's permission, then worry about the consequences later. And Sano has enemies of his own, as well as unexpected allies. As the previously unimaginable death of the shogun seems ever more possible, Sano finds himself at the center of warring forces that threaten not only his own family but Japan itself.
Riveting and richly imagined, with a magnificent sense of time and place, The Iris Fan is the triumphant conclusion to Laura Joh Rowland's brilliant series of thrillers set in feudal Japan.
There are a lot of important characters in the book and all of them stood out and managed to be very memorable; there is Sano Ichiro for whom honor is more important than anything else and who is determined to get real justice even for those who have wronged him; there is Reiko, his wife and an unconventional woman who is going through her own issues and is questioning herself; there is also Yanagisawa, Sano's rival who will do anything he can for power. Supporting characters such as the shogun, Lord Ienobu, the children and women really did stand out and can make a big impression on the reader.
All things must end and begin
The story is written in third person narrative from Sano's, Reiko's, Yanagisawa's, Taeko's, and Masahiro's points of views, although one does have Hirata's point of view once in a while. I have to mention that I was a bit confused by the fight towards the end and there seemed to be lack of something between Hirata and Sano, although it could have been just me and that relationship was previously built in previous books. What was also pretty awesome is how human the characters feel and that she has done an excellent job in drawing these details for the reader. While I think that the story builds on previous stories, when there is a need, it can stand and be enjoyed on its own which is something that a lot of authors can't pull off. I do admit that supernatural aspects of the book weren't very appealing or understandable to me, but its okay.
Buy the Book
Until I met this book, I had no idea what stand-alone meant or how it functioned. Reading it has taught me what perfect stand-alone book is: its a book where you're not required to read previous books but then you want to just so you can learn how everyone ended up at this particular point, and the book did instill that hunger in me. I'm a newcomer to this series and haven't read any previous books although I did hear of Laura Joh Rowland previously. Does one need to read previous San o Ichiro? No. Would one want to? I can't answer for others, but I definitely do. She fills in the details so both a newcomer and a seasoned fan can understand what is going on, and she does it so well that once I started to read and get into the story, it only took me mere days to finish it (once I found time for the book.) The story is both addictive and edge on the seat and I hated being torn away from it.
This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
The Iris Fan Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)