As with the previous books, so much happened in this book that it is impossible to write a comprehensive summary. With that in mind, here are some highlights.
- Musashi faces the Yoshioka School three different times and wins decisively on each occasion. First, he disables Seijuro (who ends up losing his arm). Then he kills Denshichiro. In the final showdown, Musashi faces off against a large force of Yoshioka students and manages to defeat them. However, to achieve victory, he kills the remaining heir of the Yoshioka School, a young boy named Genjiro. This slaughter of a child comes back to haunt Musashi afterward, although the warrior part of him felt it was the only way he could achieve a decisive victory over the school.
- Before the meeting the Yoshioka School for the third time, Musashi feels he might be walking to certain death. (After all, he’s walking into a battle against 70+ men.) He decides that he must tell Otsu about his love for her. At long last, they openly declare their feelings of love. Of course, Musashi survives the battle, and he decides to welcome Otsu into his life. However, once they are together, he is overcome by lust and oversteps his bounds, causing Otsu to pull away from him. Will these two ever find a balance together? We’ll have find out in the next book.
- Matahachi has quite a few problems in this book. First, he makes the mistake of passing himself off as the renowned warrior Sasaski Kojiro—to Sasaki Kojiro’s face. Oops! Kojiro decides to humiliate him rather than kill him by tying him to a tree and writing his misdeeds on the bark above him. Eventually Matahachi is freed and travels at various times with Akemi and his mother. At one point, he meets up with Musashi, who encourages Matahachi to become a better man by coming with him to Edo. Matahachi is moved by Musashi’s concern and compassion for him and vows to do right by his old friend. However, when he sees Musashi with Otsu, all the bitter feelings come flooding back and he vows to seek revenge on Musashi.
- Jotaro and Otsu have been traveling together, and Jotaro is increasingly concerned with Otsu’s poor health. Once they reunite with Musashi, he is confused by Musashi’s treatment of Otsu—failing to understand the dynamics between them. However, Jotaro is quickly becoming Otsu’s champion with Musashi.
Some Favorite Quotes
I found a two quotes that my dad had starred.
Caution was in order; in a case like this, victory is like the moon reflected on a lake. If one jumps for it impulsively, one can drown.
He recalled the old saying “It is easy to crush an enemy outside oneself but impossible to defeat an enemy within.” He had vowed to expel Otsu from his thoughts, had even bluntly told her this as she had clung to his sleeve. Yet he seemed unable to share her voice from his mind.
- There were some rather amusing sections when Musashi and some new friends go to an establishment in the licensed district to drink and enjoy women. Consider how two of the men greet each other: “Before the maudlin greeting had run its course, the two were patting each other on the head and licking each other on the nose.” I marked this passage to share in my post and, about 15 minutes after doing this, Alyce sent me an e-mail highlighting the same passage. I guess the goofiness of this greeting jumped out at both of us.
- Sasaki Kojiro keeps popping up from time to time, insinuating himself into the conflict between Musashi and the Yoshioka School while professing to be impartial. It seems clear that eventually Musashi and Kojiro will come to blows.
- Here are some photos I found relating to the duel between Musashi and the Yoshioka School.
If you’re participating in the Musashi Readalong and wrote a post for Book IV, 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 V: Sky will be posted around November 8th. Happy reading!