Monday, September 17, 2007

Read: "The 47th Samurai" by Stephen Hunter

Read: The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter, 2007, 9780743238090.

The latest novel by Hunter to feature his character Bob "The Nailer" Lee Swagger. Good but the second part was the better of the two halves. The Swagger books have all been gun books except this one. This one is a sword book - which was difficult to get used to. I was expecting guns, guns, guns and got none.

It starts off with Bob's father Earl Swagger fighting on Iwo Jima in a one-man bunker attack that earned him the Medal of Honor, then segues to the mostly retired Bob Lee in Idaho. Bob Lee is scything a plot of land when a retired Japanese officer named Yano - about Bob's age - drives up and announces his father was at the bunker that Earl took on single-handedly. Yano suspects that Earl may have kept Yano's sword, Bob tracks said sword down and delivers it to Yano in Japan. Yano and family are killed and Bob gets his dander up and goes out for revenge while absorbing as much Japanese culture, character, and sword training he can.

This novel is a lot different than the other Bob and Earl novels and it took me about halfway through to really get into the book. First off, I'd gotten more used to the Earl character since the last few Hunter novels I read featured Earl instead of Bob. It took me a while to warm back up to Bob. One big problem I had with the book is that Hunter discusses modern Japanese culture and the blending of politics with the yakuza much like Barry Eisler does. Since Eisler's writing on the topic is terrific Hunter's retread did not interest me much.

Bob Lee can be corn-pone; always ready with an odd saying, bluntly speaking the truth, and ready with self-deprecating humor or arrogance skewering wit.

Kondo took a small breath.
"You fight like a peasant," he said.
"I am a peasant," Bob replied.

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