Book info

The Dragon King's Palace (2004)

The Dragon King's Palace (2004)
Rating
3.84 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0312990030 (ISBN13: 9780312990039)
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English
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publisher
st. martin's paperbacks
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The Dragon King's Palace (2004)
The Dragon King's Palace (2004)

About book: I picked this up based solely on the blurb on the cover: "Think James Clavell meets Raymond Chandler." It turned out to be accurate, but also made my expectations too high for what this book turned out to be. I absolutely adore Clavell, and Joh Rowland goes so far as to use many, many of the same character names he uses in Shogun. As soon as those loved and familiar names showed up I expected the depth and breadth of Shogun. Alas, this was more along the lines of a Christie or Stanley Gardner which I normally love, but because of those unrealistic hopes...it fell short.One more complaint, while it seems that's all I'm doing, is that this turned out to be #8 in a series, and yet NOWHERE is this stated on or in the book until the excerpt for the #9 appears at the end. Being a lover of series, those little previews for the next in line are thrilling for me, but NOT when I had no idea it WAS a series! I think it's a little unfair of publishers to trick us unsuspecting readers like that. Now to the book itself. It was a nice, easy mystery. It really did play out like any number of them. Poirot, Miss Marple, Perry Mason, Eve Dallas and Roarke, Alex Cross, you get the picture, but here we have Sano Ichiro, a "detective" for the Shogun, and his wife Reiko. There are any number of side characters that are obviously recurring. You get clues, insights, revealed secrets, political intrigue, a bit of fighting and, as always, a damsel (or four) in distress. Had I been expecting that formula I would probably have been more apt to rate the book higher. I could tell there is a lot of backstory I missed in the first seven installments, but it was still readable. Enough was back filled so that I wasn't lost. Reading so far ahead has actually made me a little more anxious to go back and find those first seven. Oh! And then #9. But when I do, I will know what to expect, and so will probably enjoy it quite a bit more.

This is part of Rowland's Sano Ichiro Mystery series. The novel takes place in the late 1600s in Feudal Japan. The shogun's mother decides to take a trip to Mount Fuji and invites three women to be her traveling companions. The women are Reiko, the wife of Sano Ichiro - the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator; Reiko's friend Midori, the wife of Sano Ichiro's chief retainer; and Lady Yanagisawa, the wife of the shogan's Chamberlain. The three women are reluctant to accompany the shogun's mother, but they have no choice but to obey her wishes. On route to Mount Fuji, the party is attacked by ruthless warriors who kidnap the four women and kill everyone else. Political enemies, Sano Ichiro and Chamberlain Yanagisawa must work together to find out who kidnapped the shogun's mother and their wives and what the kidnapper wants. In the meantime, Reiko does not want to wait to be rescued and begins to try to find a way to escape.I had a really hard time getting into the book. Part of the problem may have been that this is the eighth book in the series and I have not read any of the others. While the earlier books weren't necessary, I think that having a familiarity with the background and animosity of Sano Ichiro and Chamberlain Yanagisawa might have made the political maneuvering and forced partnership more interesting. I found that the characters were not fleshed out as much as I would like, and I think that is because the reader is expected to have a lot of the characters' background information from previous novels in the series. Overall the book was just OK, I am not sorry that I chose to read the book but I will probably not read any of the other books in the series.
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Reviews
Thomas
I picked this book up in a thrift store and was unaware that it was part of a series. After putting off reading it for about a month, I finally picked it up and read it in about two days...STRAIT. Since I was reading out of order, I had no knowledge of Sano and his journey to becoming the Sosokan-sama. Even without prior knowledge, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and couldnt put it down. The setting of seventeenth century Japan has always intriqued me, and I loved learning more about it. The mystery was gripping and although it does give you perspective from the guitly party, it still does not reveal his identity and it keeps you guessing.After reading this book, I did some research and was glad to find out that there were 15 others waiting for me!I would suggest this book to anyone, and although you may want to read the first 7 to gain more perspective, the book can work well as a stand-alone.
John
The entourage accompanying the shogun's mother on a spiritual retreat have either been slaughtered or kidnapped by unidentified Dragon King. One of those who was kidnapped was Reiko, the beautiful wife of the Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People, Sano Ichiro. The shogun has received demands for the release of his mother, which includes the execution of the Police Commissioner Hoshina, a political rival of Sano. The mercurial shogun is eager to comply with the kidnapper's demands but Sano convinces him to delay the execution fearing that those kidnapped would still be murdered. Sano needs to quickly investigate the crime, determine the reason for the execution request, determine where the shogun's mother and his wife is being held and rescue them before the shogun becomes inpatient.This historical mystery is one of several in the Sano Ichiro series and is the second one I have read. Although I found the aspects of the novel which spotlit Sano's spirited, intelligent and assertive wife, Reiko, I found much of the political intrigue tedious.
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