I rank Musashi among the best books I have ever read in my life. Originally written by Eiji Yoshikawa, and translated by Charles Terry, this is a gripping tale about the journey of a young samurai in feudal Japan, describing his transformation from a reckless young boy into a disciplined warrior. All the struggles endured by Musashi and the rest of the cast are very poignantly narrated. Despite being a long book, it never feels drawn out. Many intricate details of Japanese culture are covered, such as the tea ceremony, playing of the shamisen, and rituals of samurai combat.
A lot of the book felt exaggerated from reality. While this may be true, I was surprised to find out quite a bit was based on actual events in Musashi’s life(if Wikipedia is to be believed)! As a character, Musashi is very inspiring, even with all his flaws. After I finished this book, I read Musashi’s Book of Five Rings(most of which flew right over my head). Throughout the book, Musashi is dedicated to the Way of the Sword, which can be substituted for any noble pursuit. There are many well-written characters in the book, notably Sasaki Kojiro. But I do feel that Eiji Yoshikawa grew too attached to some of the characters, too hesitant to get rid of them.
This is a must-read. This book deftly weaves history with a touching and inspirational tale. My favorite quote from the book:
If you were going to win, you wouldn’t throw your scabbard away. You’ve cast away your future, your life.