by Ted Takashima
In 1276 AD, after losing a battle with the Saracens, Edward Gawain, an English knight, and his band of fellow Crusaders flee the Holy Land by sea.
A violent storm sets the Crusaders adrift off the coast of Nippon (modern-day Japan), which has been under siege by Mongolian invaders from the Yuan Dynasty for several years. Hatred and distrust of foreigners run high among the locals. And Edward and his men are equally wary of their samurai captors, whose language they do not speak and whose culture they do not understand. After Edward heroically saves the life of the samurai leader from a Mongolian scouting party, barriers between East and West begin to fall.
Brought to Kamakura, Edward meets Hojo Tokimune, a young regent of the shogunate. They relate to each other immediately as knight and samurai. The English Crusaders soon become accustomed to life in Nippon, and Edward falls in love with a beautiful courtesan. One day, news of a second Mongolian invasion arrives in Kamakura. Entrusted by Tokimune, Edward leaves for Hakata, where he takes command of the Nippon army and fights with his new comrades to defend the people and civilization he has come to love and respect. Does he become a ranshin—a divine force that Nippon believes has supernatural powers?
Ranshin, Ted Takashima’s fifth book to be translated from Japanese into English, is an epic new take on the historical-fiction genre.
The ship had been at sea for two and a half years.
Sailing upon seasonal winds from the Red Sea, she voyaged past Aden, Socotra, Ceylon, and Malay, dropping anchor just long enough to plunder ports for food and water.
“We can’t say we are the Army of God now, can we?” Crusader Edward Gawain, third son of the House of Gawain, reflected.
For generations the powerful House of Gawain controlled northwestern England, defending the border of England against Scotland. When Edward was twelve, he was sent to live in a distant relative’s remote castle. His cousin, who was a knight, took him in as his squire and trained him rigorously. Once he was nineteen, Edward became a knight serving under the crown prince of England. When France’s virtuous King Louis IX of the Christian armed forces invited the crown prince to join him on a crusade to rescue the Holy Land from the infidels, Edward went too. But the army’s actions as they marched to Jerusalem were far from those of soldiers of God. They looted villages and inflicted pain, even death, on those who dared to stand in their way, all in the name of God. For surely to suffer in life is to receive God’s divine retribution.
When they arrived in the Akko region of Palestine, the crown prince, greatly tired from the journey and fearful of assassination at the hands of the Saracens, returned to England, abandoning Edward and his fellow Crusaders in the pagan-ruled territory. The Saracen army pursued them on land as far as the Red Sea, where a sympathetic merchant named Zafir helped them escape on board the Blu Oceano, a trader refurbished from a Roman warship and equipped with two small catapults. To evade the Saracen flotilla, the Blu Oceano turned eastward bound for India.
When Edward first departed from his homeland, he had eighty soldiers under his command. Twenty of his men were killed in action against the infidels. Of the more than fifty men that sailed with him on the Blu Oceano, only twenty-four survived; the rest either succumbed to disease or died in skirmishes in port cities. Those who remained were emaciated and, worse, their morale was low. The twenty-three sailors manning the Blu Oceano were also run-down and near breaking point. From the outset, they had been forcibly threatened by Edward and his men to stay on board and aid them in their flight from the Saracens.
No sooner had they left India than a storm swept the Blu Oceano off course, setting them adrift in waters not yet known to Europeans. As they sailed along the southeastern part of the Asian continent, the rain was so heavy there was no longer a separation between sea and sky. But when the rain stopped, weeks went by with no precipitation. The supply of fresh water was running out, and everyone was restricted to two cups of drinking water a day. The sailors resented Edward and his men.
“There will be a mutiny any day now,” Thomas, the captain of the ship, warned Edward, who licked his cracked dry lips.
But then the ship began to sway violently. The wind was picking up.
“Edward, it’s raining! Come up!” Alan’s voice rang out as he looked down from the deck.
Alan was twenty-five, two years Edward’s junior. He knew nothing of hopelessness. Slender, with chestnut-colored hair and a handsome face, he appeared delicate, but he was bold and daring. His skill with a blade was unmatched. Yet he would frequently surprise Edward with how reckless he could be. Since Alan was ten, he served as Edward’s attendant. They grew up like brothers.
Edward felt as if the ship was plummeting down a big hole. The urge to vomit came over him, even though his stomach was empty. Slowly he climbed up the ladder to the main deck. Everyone was there, looking up at the sky and opening their mouths to catch what rain they could.
“Bring out the empty barrels and collect the rainwater,” Edward ordered, as he spread his arms to feel the rain fall over his body.
Suddenly the life-saving rain turned torrential. Everyone felt as if they were being drowned. The ship rose and fell with the swell of waves.
“It’s a tempest! Every man to his post and keep her steady, lads!” Thomas shouted at the top of his lungs as he staggered to the ship’s helm.
About The Author
After working as a scientist for the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, Ted Takashima moved to California, where he studied at the University of California. He has published more than twenty novels in the action/thriller/suspense/mystery genres in Japan. His novels include Intruder, which won the 1999 Suntory Mystery Award; Pandemic (2010), which foretold the global spread of COVID-19 in 2020; and The Wall (2020), a redemption story set against the backdrop of a refugee crisis at the Trump border wall with Mexico.
RANSHIN: Samurai Crusaders
Tetsuo Ted Takashima
Translated by Alexandrea Mallia
On Sale: October 2022
Price: US $17.95 CAN $22.95
US $12.99 (eBook)
Book: Trade Paperback
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches
Publisher: MUSEYON Books