Laura Joh Rowland's thrilling series set in Feudal Japan is as gripping and entertaining as ever with The Shogun's Daughter.
Japan, 1704. In an elegant mansion a young woman named Tsuruhime lies on her deathbed, attended by her nurse. Smallpox pustules cover her face. Incense burns, to banish the evil spirits of disease. After Tsuruhime takes her last breath, the old woman watching from the doorway says, "Who's going to tell the Shogun his daughter is dead?"
The death of the Shogun's daughter has immediate consequences on his regime. There will be no grandchild to leave the kingdom. Faced with his own mortality and beset by troubles caused by the recent earthquake, he names as his heir Yoshisato, the seventeen-year-old son he only recently discovered was his. Until five months ago, Yoshisato was raised as the illegitimate son of Yanagisawa, the shogun's favorite advisor. Yanagisawa is also the longtime enemy of Sano Ichiro.
Sano doubts that Yoshisato is really the Shogun's son, believing it's more likely a power-play by Yanagisawa. When Sano learns that Tsuruhime's death may have been a murder, he sets off on a dangerous investigation that leads to more death and destruction as he struggles to keep his pregnant wife, Reiko, and his son safe. Instead, he and his family become the accused. And this time, they may not survive the day.
The death from smallpox of Tsuruhime, the shogun s daughter, spells trouble for Sano Ichiro in Rowland s outstanding 17th novel of feudal Japan (after 2012 s The Incense Game). Faced with picking an official heir, the shogun passes over his nephew, Ienobu, in favor of Yoshisato, a newly discovered son, who s really the child of Sano s bitterest rival, Yanagisawa. With the shogun s acquiescence, Yanagisawa takes over Sano s position as chamberlain, much reducing Sano spay and retinue, and appointing him chief rebuilding magistrate. Believing that Yanagisawa may have played a part in Tsuruhime s demise, Sano undertakes a dangerous inquiry into her death. But his code of honor dictates that he must follow the evidence wherever it might lead, even if the new chamberlain is exonerated in the process. Just when readers think that events can t turn more against her hero, Rowland plausibly ups the ante, keeping this long-running series fresh and engaging.