Rating: 5 out of 5
There is no doubt in my mind that I have a deep connection with Mr Ryotaro Shiba and his writings. While I took my time in enjoying this novel, many of the sentiments that the author expresses are very dear to my heart. The author’s style, in the same, is logical and compassionate though prone to thrilling tangents. The reader comes away thoroughly entertained and as a part of the story — and also with plenty to ponder…
The sections where Mr Shiba described his own troubles in trying to trace down some unknown places where Sakamoto Ryoma had spent a day, weekend, or week in the 1860’s remind me very much of those rummagings through countryside to which I have subjected my friends — clearly less impressed than me — to find a stone from the 13th century or a circular coppice that must have been a motte. These snippets of information the author shared made me realize how much he must have tried to understand the subject of his work — Sakamoto Ryoma.
This attention to detail is dear — and yet precious! It is unlikely that any other biography could provide such clarity and detail without having the reader succumb to boredom. The author’s is never too far from a comment to connect one character or another — even if we are dealing with people Mr Ryoma met for a day — to the Japan (and indeed, the Western world in some cases) that the typical expected reader must have known.
In the end, while it might be Mr Shiba’s clear and logical style that praises the skill and wisdom of Mr Ryoma, the two become inseparable in the course of this book — and I heartily commend both!