In 1701 young Lord Asano is goaded into attacking a corrupt official at the Japanese Court. Although the wound Asano inflicts is minimal, the Emperor’s punishment is harsh: Lord Asano is ordered to commit seppuku, or ritual suicide. His lands are confiscated and his family is dishonored and exiled. His samurai retainers now become ronin, or masterless, and are dispersed.
These ronin are not trusted by their enemies, and live under the watchful eyes of spies for months. They appear to adapt to their new circumstances by becoming tradesmen and teachers. But the ronin only seem to accept their fate. They are in fact making careful plans for revenge, biding their time until the moment to strike is right! Their deeds became Japan’s most celebrated example of bravery, cunning, and loyalty in an age when samurai were heroes, and honor was worth dying for.
John Allyn’s masterful retelling of the 47 ronin story has long been considered the definitive version of these dramatic historical events.