- The Swords of Silence (The Swords of Fire Trilogy #1).
- Shaun Curry.
- 324 pages.
- Fantasy / Historical Fantasy.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
Where once new ideas and beliefs were accepted, now the country’s military dictator, the Shogun is shutting his country down to any outside influences.
Father Joaquim Martinez who left Portugal to make Hizen Province, Japan his home, has been quietly tending to the lives of his villagers, but everything is about to be thrown into turmoil, as the Shogun has outlawed Martinez’s beliefs. Those who won’t recant or accept banishment, face a death sentence.
With the threat of a massacre looming, and the Shogun’s Samurai closing in, Father Martinez must decide, if he is willing to risk everything, to save those he has sworn to protect.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Story in The Swords of Silence takes place between May 1626 and July 1626 a decade after Christianity had been outlawed in Japan and focuses on the struggles of a Jesuit priest, Father Joaquim Martinez and the villagers of Arima on the island of Kyushu.
Father Joaquim is the priest of the small village and the villagers are all Christians who keep their faith hidden only praying and worshipping in secret. Whenever the local Daimyo (warlord) visits Arima to collect the monthly taxes or for surprise visits looking for Christians. Father Joaquim and the two catechists who help him to spread the word of God have to hide, concealing themselves behind fake walls and beneath floorboards in the homes of the villagers. The villagers themselves, remove any Christian paraphernalia, conceal their true belief and pretend that they are Buddhists.
The Swords of Silence starts with a prologue that depicts a death march through the streets for a group of Christians that ends with their execution. It has been three years since the last public execution and the new governor of Nagasaki has ordered the march to set an example for anyone who still follows the Christian faith. This opening and the grisly fate that befalls the group really sets the scene for the hardship that Christians face and the persecution that they suffer during the time period.
It is a dangerous time to be a Christian in Japan, The controlling and power-hungry Shogun sees Christianity as a plague, a scourge and the Christians vermin that spread contagion, corruption and that need eradicating once and for all from his lands. Christian’s are being hunted down with more force and in greater number than ever before. The Daimyo, the Governor, the Samurai and The Shogun enact many deplorable acts upon Father Joaquim and the villagers (the men, women and children all suffer at their hands) and they are pitiless in their persecution of them. Abuse, torture, mutilation, execution and finally death await any Christian who won’t renounce their belief and anyone found guilty of aiding, helping and/or hiding them.
A man of peace Father Joaquim chooses words over weapons and talking over violence. But, in return for him preaching Christianity to the villagers, one of the village elders, a kindly old samurai has taught Joaquim and others the way of the sword, bushido so that, if needed, when there is no other option and as a last resort they can defend themselves.
Father Joaquim’s faith is unfaltering, his belief unwavering. Even in the face of adversity, his trust in God holds steadfast and strong. With Father Joaquim, there is a message to be found within the pages of The Swords of Silence. The message that no matter how dark it may seem, no matter the odds that there is always hope, always a light to be found in the darkness if you believe and if you hold true to your faith. On the arduous treck for freedom help is found from fellow Christians, other religions (highlighting togetherness, unity and the compassion, the good in people when in times of hardship others need aid no matter their belief and faith) and a wandering Ronin. Father Joaquim will need both his faith and the skill that he has acquired with a blade to defend, to protect the villagers if they are to have any chance of surviving against the might and the relentless wrath of The Shogun and his army of Samurai.
Curry doesn’t shy away from depicting the barbarity of the time, the atrocious ordeals and the horrific hell that Christians had to endure in 17th century Japan with many savage acts on display. The Swords of Silence is dark, graphic and violent. However, thanks to Curry’s writing, his storytelling ability, the characters, the fast pace of the narrative and the short chapters it is easy to read and you soon find yourself invested in the plight of Father Joaquim, the Arima villagers and their fight for survival.
The Swords of Silence is a brutal yet gripping read that highlights the evil that men do and the power of faith.
Purchase The Swords of Silence (The Swords of Fire Trilogy #1).
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