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Publisher's Summary

The classic samurai novel about the real exploits of the most famous swordsman.

Miyamoto Musashi was the child of an era when Japan was emerging from decades of civil strife. Lured to the great Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 by the hope of becoming a samurai - without really knowing what it meant - he regains consciousness after the battle to find himself lying defeated, dazed, and wounded among thousands of the dead and dying. On his way home, he commits a rash act, becomes a fugitive, and brings life in his own village to a standstill - until he is captured by a weaponless Zen monk.

The lovely Otsu, seeing in Musashi her ideal of manliness, frees him from his tortuous punishment, but he is recaptured and imprisoned. During three years of solitary confinement, he delves into the classics of Japan and China. When he is set free again, he rejects the position of samurai and for the next several years pursues his goal relentlessly, looking neither to the left nor to the right.

Ever so slowly it dawns on him that following the way of the sword is not simply a matter of finding a target for his brute strength. Continually striving to perfect his technique, which leads him to a unique style of fighting with two swords simultaneously, he travels far and wide, challenging fighters of many disciplines, taking nature to be his ultimate and severest teacher and undergoing the rigorous training of those who follow the way. He is supremely successful in his encounters, but in The Art of War, he perceives the way of peaceful and prosperous governance and disciplines himself to be a real human being.

He becomes a reluctant hero to a host of people whose lives he has touched and by whom he has been touched. Inevitably, he has to pit his skill against the naked blade of his greatest rival.

Musashi is a novel in the best tradition of Japanese storytelling. It is a living story, subtle and imaginative, teeming with memorable characters, many of them historical. Interweaving themes of unrequited love, misguided revenge, filial piety, and absolute dedication to the way of the samurai, it depicts vividly a world Westerners know only vaguely. Full of gusto and humor, it has an epic quality and universal appeal.

©1971 Fumiko Yoshikawa (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Amazing

Amazing book and the reader brought it to life. Would listen to another book by the reader

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Fantastic story, great narration.

Stumbled on this book by accident and will be forever glad I did. I wanted to start reading it again as soon as I finished it.

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  • Garrett J. A. Flowers
  • 2018-11-10

Great story, great narrator

Such a well-written story, with so many different storylines developed and then woven together. This story provides a fascinating view into Japanese and samurai culture. 53 hours long and I was sad that it ended! The narrator is fantastic, with real feeling, seemingly authentic pronunciation of Japanese names and unique voices for nearly every character.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Loud Lemur from Latveria
  • 2018-11-03

So happy Audible now carries this title!

Musashi is by far my favourite piece of historical fiction ever written. The life of Miyamoto Musashi is so fascinating, and Eiji Yoshikawa found a way to perfectly dramatize it.

Since I became an Audible subscriber, I've checked for this title at least once a month. I've been meaning to re-read it, but life and time constraints have made it difficult to pick up the print version again. So stoked that this is finally here.

To readers who, for some reason or another, reading this review and want some context as to what the book is about - Miyamoto Musashi was a famous swordsman at the beginning of the Edo period in Japan. He was known for using peculiar methods to win his duels - like fighting men, who were themselves armed with swords, with wooden swords fashioned from boat oars. As a middle-aged man, Musashi wrote "Go Rin No Sho" (Book of Five Rings) encapsulating his philosophy of the martial arts and his unique approach to sword tactics. His life has been dramatized in a plethora of varieties over the years - from TV dramas, to stage plays, to anime and manga - but Eiji Yoshikawa's dramatization of his life is the parent of everything that proceeded it.

If you're interested in a fast-paced story set in 17th century Japan - where duels with razor sharp swords are commonplace, and where warriors seek deeper meaning to their lives in esoteric philosophies of the era, this book is a great read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Gerardo Ruiz Jr
  • 2018-09-15

A great book with a great narrator

This is one of my favorite books and was made better with the narrators performance.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • calvin13
  • 2018-11-11

Better than the Count of Monte Cristo...

I loved this book. It replaced my favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo, as my favorite piece of fiction. It starts off in a similar way to the Count, but it definitely has a much more wholesome and satisfying end to it. #epic #advetnure #wholesome #samurai #war

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-09-15

BIG Must

this book is definitely a big must for anybody that is a fan of Japanese culture and history

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-02-13

One of my favorite books & a great performance

I first read this book as a teenager and read it three times over the next ten years. The reading is well done. I enjoyed the performance of the narrator. This is a story about Japan’s greatest swordsman, human interactions, love, and the struggles of life. I look forward to listening again to this great novel.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jtharp90
  • 2018-10-19

An absolutely perfect story

I cannot say enough about this book, It's absolutely perfect. The audio version is excellent and I highly recommend it. The worst part of the book is when its over. It could have 4 times as long and it wouldn't have been long enough.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael Oberhardt
  • 2018-10-04

My memory of it from the 80s was better...

I read this book as a youth, and really loved it, so when I saw it turn up in Audio format at Audible, I jumped at it and got it as soon as it came out.

However, my adult mind didn't quite like the story anymore. The ongoing feuds in the book, with either some crazy woman and to a lesser extent his ex best friend) and one or more sword schools were just told as a one sided tale, like the account was purely taken from an extremely exaggerated first person account. I may be wrong, and historically this might all be correct, and somehow an old poor (financially) woman was able to just leave home and live on the road pursuing her bizarre agenda for years and years and years and years... And on Musashi's side, how was just overly and ridiculously kind and magnanimous. It just felt like the story of a braggart. From his humble bragging when he came to the realization he was just too strong, and couldn't control his sheer strength and was always unintentionally killing people, even with wood. It was just no end of 50+ hours of this. It was ridiculous, and I barely finished it. I mean if certain arrogant political figures ghost wrote an autobiography, from their recollections only, this is what it'd be like. The only other explanation I can come for all of the ridiculous decade long one sided feuds was that his real life wasn't that exciting, and when padding the story out to a long book, the author was trying to make it more "interesting", weave some annoying long story lines. I mean if I wanted to make an interesting auto bio, I'd have to do similar to make it worthwhile...

Narration wise, a producer should really check a bit better. For one example, there is a difference between "wan" (as in "smile wanly") and wane (as in "as the moon wanes"). "Wan" appeared about 30 times in the book, and was always pronounced wane.

7 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Panda
  • 2019-05-20

Not worth the credit

I tried this book out because I live in Japan, am interested in its history and rich culture, and love long audiobooks because I devour regular-length audiobooks so quickly.

I despised most of this story. The feeling was mostly passive because the story just wasn't good; I only actively FELT anything for a couple characters, like Osugi and Jotaro. I hated Osugi passionately but I do appreciate her character development. Jotaro was one character I wished there was more of, and whom I thoroughly liked.

The titular character is unlikable, every female character is evil or pitifully weak (and unlikable), and the story is utterly unengaging. This took me months to finish, while I listened to the 45+ hour "The Stand" by Stephen King in under a week. The female idiocy in particular is grating.

The performance is generally great- Nishii voices each character differently and his female voices are very good. He sounds like a native Japanese speaker from his Japanese pronunciations. He sings an entire Buddhist recitation and does a wonderful job all-around. BUT HE MISPRONOUNCES AN ABSURD NUMBER OF WORDS. The emPHAsis is on the wrong syLLAble a lot of the time and he. always. emphasizes. the W in "sword". Like "SWORED". AH.

Anyway I finally finished it and I'm just so underwhelmed. I only have myself to blame for being a completionist but I wish the reviews had given me pause. I don't know why they are overwhelmingly positive. The end was extremely abrupt, after having drug on for dozens of hours of disjointed adventure after adventure like an RPG.

I feel I've made my point and am rambling now, but I did not enjoy this story at all, except for Jotaro and Takuan.

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  • Darren Gears
  • 2019-05-17

from untamed beast to a real human being

this book is very long. but extremely enjoyable. there are many great characters and battles narrated so well you can actualy see it. the story of one mans unending quest to become a better human using the teachings of the way of the sword. not only a better warrior. the story takes place in japan over 13 years. this book is worth listening to.