To complete his 17th-century samurai trilogy (Death at the Crossroads, 1998; Jade Palace Vendetta, 1999), Furutani sends honorable warrior Matsuyama Kaze on a quest to find the prepubescent girl-child of his slain Lord and Lady. Three years later, Kaze, in the guise of a street entertainer, happens to be in the wrong place, the capitol city of Edo, at the wrong time—when there is an assassination attempt on the new Shogun’s life. Under suspicion, with a whopping price on his head, Kaze takes refuge with a vegetable merchant, then with owners of a Kabuki theater, while dispatching numerous adversaries, including five ninjas and platoons of palace troops let loose by the Shogun’s advisors, as well as bodyguards protecting a gambling establishment, where he forges an alliance with the behemoth Nobu. Eventually, Kaze locates the girl-child in a brothel and rescues her, but not before a master gunsmith is butchered and a kabuki actress falls in love with him. After much samurai derring-do, Kaze explains to the Shogun who among his lieutenants can be trusted and who should be encouraged to commit ritual suicide. As a reward, Kaze is given the chance to vanquish his childhood enemy.
Fans can expect not only samurai swordsmanship, but peasants boiled in oil and musket aerodynamics described with a historian’s reverence. Off-handedly bloodthirsty work by combatants who routinely remove their shoes first so as not to dirty the floor.