My Review of 'The Tale of the Heike'
This is the thickest book I have ever read. AlthoughI've been reading about Japanese history for years, I didn't think I'd get any value out of this book. I took the plunge anyway. It was well worth it. I wasn't expecting this. It's an Epic Tale.
The best thing about this book is that every chapter is nice and small so you can read it in small does. Ideal since it's a big book. It will take some commitment. After a while it will feel rewarding. If you are into history, this is for you.
Set in 11th Century Japan during the late Heian period. Written like an epic poem, it shows us what life was like in the Imperial court. We learn how members of the courts were treated, describing who did what to whom, and why.
This book tells the tale of a Samurai clan, The Heike (aka The Taira Clan) who took over the Imperial court. In the process they antagonised everybody; the Imperial family, the Fujiwara clan, the Minamoto clan, and the Buddhist monks.
Central to the story is the power-hungry Kiyomori, we learn of his origins, his greed, and the cruelty of his clan.
All events lead up to the Genpei War. This story tells the beginning of the Shogunate.
My only problem with this book is that there are too many characters, we are given many names of people who don't play any major role apart from giving us their ranks and titles. Perhaps for research purposes, it may come in handy as a historical document, but from a storytelling perspective they serve no other purpose. It becomes too much to take on board at times. But that's a minor thing.
Overall, this is one of the best books ever written. Powerful. Tragic. Beautiful. Purchase here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tale-Heike-Penguin-Classics/dp/0143107267/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=B7HVPNZERFEXY1SH59F7
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