It is getting almost impossible to summarize the story—not so much because it is confusing but because people are going everywhere willy nilly and it would take forever to summarize. So, with that in mind, here are the highlights.
- Matahachi is attempting to make a new life for himself but ends up stealing the identity of a dead samurai. He then runs into his mother, Osugi, and Uncle Gon. After a day or two of joyful reunion, Osugi starts to grate on Matahachi’s nerves and he leaves her once again.
- Akemi, who is in love with Musashi, becomes bitterly unhappy when she is violated by a samurai. When she attempts to drown herself, she is saved by Uncle Gon, who loses his life in the process.
- Musashi is getting wiser and more in control of his emotions. This is demonstrated when he runs into Osugi and attempts to deal with her without resorting to violence (a feat that seems near impossible as Osugi is bent on revenge and just a little bit crazy).
- We see the seeds being planted for Musashi’s eventual creation of his unique two-handed sword-fighting technique.
- Jotaro and Otsu have teamed up to look for Musashi together. At the end of the book, Osugi has tricked Otsu into coming with her—separating her and Jotaro. It is unlikely that any good will come from this as we know Osugi wants to harm Otsu.
- Through the entire book, Yoshikawa is setting us up for the big showdown between Musashi and the swordsman from the Yoshioka school, which will take place in the next book.
My Favorite Quote
As with the earlier books, some quotes just jumped out at me. The following quote is taken when Matahachi is talking to a man as they walk past a district populated by prostitutes. Here is how Matahachi’s companion describes the women:
Some were once concubines of the shogun, and there are lots whose fathers were once retainers of some daimyo who have since lost power. It was the same centuries ago when the Taira fell to the Minamoto. You’ll find, my friend, that in the gutters of this floating world, much of the trash consists of fallen flowers.
- Musashi’s Japan feels like a very small place. Coincidences abound—with everyone always running into everyone else. At times, it almost feels like a comedy.
- Yoshikawa manages to inject a bit of history and commentary with a few pointed discussions of how the merchant class is beginning to gain status, with many samurai no longer having a place in the world and struggling to make a living.
- I’m really enjoying this novelistic approach to biography. It makes for fun reading yet you feel like you’re learning as well.
- I’m digging the readalong posts that feature photos that help make the book come alive so I thought I’d start including some each week as well.
If you’re participating in the Musashi Readalong and wrote a post for Book III, please link it up below. (Sorry I’m a bit late with mine!) I’m very much enjoying reading everyone’s posts, and I hope you are all still enjoying the book. My next Musashi post on Book IV: Wind will be posted around October 30th. Happy reading!