Review Blog

Nov 30 2011

The ring of fire by Chris Bradford

cover image

Young Samurai series. Puffin, 2011. ISBN 978 0 141 33255 0.
(Ages 11+) Recommended. Chris Bradford's sixth in his Young Samurai series sees Jack involved in another life and death struggle. Whilst fleeing the Shogun's forces he battles against a harsh Japanese winter. To survive he accepts a job to protect a poor village from the ravages of a cruel, bloodthirsty bandit called Akuma. It's not until he reaches the village that he finds just how poor it is and how powerful Akuma and his band are. He is able to recruit help in the form of some old friends. However the odds are still stacked heavily against them.
They have to not only turn the village into a defensible fortress, but also turn the villagers into a reliable military unit. No easy job especially as in Japan it was an offence for peasants to be armed. The fact that Jack is a gaijin (an outsider) who poses as a Samurai is also a problem, not only culturally, but the Shogun has also offered a reward for him, which would be very tempting for poor villagers for Jack's capture.
Bradford keeps the action moving and the reader's interest involved with exciting battles and fights. I'm sure those who've read the other books in the series will enjoy this one and be eager for the next installment. 320p looks a lot, but the print is large and well spaced, the chapters short and the end of the book gives details of the characters's names and a glossary as well as the opening chapters for the next installment, just in case you needed any enticement.
Mark Knight

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