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The Swords of Silence: Book 1: The Swords of Fire Trilogy

de Shaun Curry

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#1 The Swords of Silence - ★★★

I was born and raised in a country where religion is sacred. I was surrounded with Christianity all my life. However, while I have learned lessons of love, respect and hope, I am not a believer. I do believe that we need to be kind to each other, respect each other and hope for a better tomorrow, but I don't believe there is a God out there who decides our faith. My review is based on how I felt while reading and I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should be respected for that.

The Swords of Silence features father Joaquim, who moves to Japan in the 1620's, to share the religion of Christ. However, the brutal regime in Japan forbids any other religion than Buddhism. The Shogun is determined there is no more Christianity in his country. Throughout the book, we follow Joaquim's journey, where he manages to get captured and escapes several times, with the help of God.

This book perfectly captures the regime in Japan during this time.

The true terror and the brutal punishments if you ever dare make a mistake. The world of no mercy. But this book is also a product of divine inspiration and has great elements some of us consider fantasy.

Many of the scenes in The Swords of Silence that featured escaping were unrealistic and resembled the Bible stories. We had walking on water, moving of mountains and a big storm in the sea that only affects the enemy ship, even though they are only metres away from father Joaquim's ship.

There is one scene though, that I was absolutely in awe with, and that was the scene with the duels. As a person who trained karate all my life and is very familiar with the rules of a duel, honour, respect and combat in martial arts - this scene was perfectly set and accurate. It brought all the emotions and it was brutally realistic. And it is because of this scene that I will give this book three stars.

The Swords of Silence is a great book, and I love the fact that the author captured moments in history that were true and brutal, and not many people in the world know about. A story that will make people aware of what was happening in the past. Even though I am not a believer in God, I stand by that people shouldn't be mistreated, bullied, or in this case - brutally murdered for what they believe in. Everyone has the right to believe in anything they believe in.

If this book was more realistic with the events and scenes, I would have given it five stars for the message it shares with the world.

True fact: Around 1% of the population in Japan claims Christian belief or affiliation. Most large Christian denominations are repressed in Japan today.

Thank you to LoveReading UK, the publisher Harper Collins UK and the author, Shaun Curry, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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  InnahLovesYou | Jan 3, 2020 |
It's not very often that an author can capture the essence of a book in the very first paragraph but that is exactly what Shaun Curry did. The style of writing immediately caught my attention and from the moment I started to read this book I was completely transfixed and I could not stop reading, nor did I want it to end. What a page-turner of a journey.

Book 1 of a 3 part series, The Swords Of Silence is inspired by true events in Japanese history back in the 1600's. Focusing on religion and the banishment of Christianity, the story follows a Jesuit priest named Father Joaquim Martinez, who had travelled from Portugal to Japan, Nagasaki to continue in his mission to spread the word of God. Joaquin's journey gives insight to the struggles and tortures he and fellow Christians endure at the hands of a new Shogun and his Daimyo, who are determined to uncover all hidden Christians with a will to stop at nothing to be victorious.

Before reading this book, I must admit that my knowledge on Japan and Christianity was zero, but Shaun makes this an easy, intriguing and although this is not for the faint-hearted, a heartfelt book to read. I really can't wait to see what Shaun bring to the next installments. ( )
  Bookworm842 | Oct 8, 2019 |
There were too many characters in the beginning so I struggled to keep up with who was who. The names were also foreign so that made it more difficult. The first half of the book was OK but then as I started to get more attached to the characters, I started hoping that they would get through their struggles. I was tensed when they reached troubles, and happy when it was resolved. Overall, it felt almost like a retelling of a Bible story, but set in Japan instead. Although the author mentions that some characters were real and the some of the events were real, I feel that the entire story had only few real facts. The rest were completely fictional and felt almost entirely made up. I did enjoy the story though but I'm not sure that I would recommend it to anyone. ( )
  Allyseria7 | Oct 1, 2019 |
Publisher’s synopsis:
Where once new ideas and beliefs were accepted, now the country’s military dictator, the Shogun, is cutting down to any outside influences.
Father Joaquim Martinez who left Portugal to make Hizen Province, Japan his home, has been quietly tending to the lives of his villagers, but everything is about to be thrown into turmoil, as the Shogun has outlawed Martinez’s beliefs. Those who won’t recant or accept banishment face a death sentence.
With the threat of a massacre looming, and the Shogun’s samurai closing in, Father Martinez must decide, if he is willing to risk everything to save those he has sworn to protect.

The short prologue to this truly shocking story gives an account of more than a dozen badly beaten and tortured prisoners, heads shaved and painted red, being led through the streets of Nagasaki City in June 1626, prior to being tied to execution stakes and then burnt alive. This “death march” comprised two European priests, five lay Portuguese prisoners, and two ships’ captains, all found guilty of aiding Japanese Christians; the final few victims were Japanese individuals who had sheltered priests. The Governor in charge of the executions had ordered all to be gagged in order that they wouldn’t be able to inspire any Christians in the crowds lining the streets, he was determined that the fate of these prisoners would instil fear in all onlookers. The descriptions of the torture the prisoners had undergone during the year they had been incarcerated, and of the precision with which the executioners had learnt to position the stakes from the fire in order to maximise suffering, set the tone for the brutality which ran through the story.
The main story starts a month earlier, in Hizen Province, on Kyusha, Japan’s southernmost island, and covers a two-month period. Father Joaquim Martinez, sent from the Portuguese Society of Jesus many years earlier to spread the Word of God, now lives in a small village where, in exchange for his teachings, he is taught the Samurai “Way of the Sword”, a skill which will come in useful many times during the story. Although there had been times following the arrival of the first Jesuit priests in the middle of the sixteenth century when Christians were reasonably well-tolerated, soon after the first Shogun came to power at the start of the seventeenth century, he became suspicious of all foreigners and suspected that priests and their converts were, in reality, foreign agents and religious freedom was outlawed in 1614. As more and more Christians were tortured and executed when they refused renounce their faith, those remaining lived in fear of their lives and Christianity necessarily became a covert movement.
In his author’s note that this story is “inspired by real history and real characters in history”, in his final sentence Shaun Curry asks the question “Who am I to soften the edges of history to create a more gentle story?” Well, there is nothing in the least gentle about his brutally graphic descriptions of the relentless persecution of Christians, and of the barbaric tortures inflicted upon them by the Shogun and his officials. At times I found it almost intolerable to read about the systematic torture which was designed to cause as much agony as possible, for as long a time as possible. However, he did very effectively capture the ever-present fear Christians experienced and the lengths they were forced to go to in order to escape discovery and, equally effectively, evoked a vivid picture of life in Japan during the period being described.
Through the character of Father Joaquim, full of love, tolerance and compassion, it was very easy to identify with the heroic bravery of those who were not prepared to recant their faith, as well as the non-Christians who were prepared to risk their own lives to help them. As a character filled with hatred, rage, suspicion and intolerance, the Shogun was an easy to hate “baddie” but, with the author’s descriptions of the challenges he was wrestling with to both gain more powers and retain those he already had, I felt that some of the reasons for his behaviour, whilst totally abhorrent and unacceptable, were ego-syntonic and therefore credible within this context.
Told in very short chapters, this is an action-packed, fast-moving story but there were moments when I had to suspend disbelief at some of the “miracles” which enabled the characters to escape what appeared to be situations which it would be impossible to survive – but maybe that’s just a reflection of the fact that I don’t share that absolute faith in a God who rewards faith with miracles! I enjoyed the amount of background detail about the historical period in which the story is set; this definitely increased my knowledge of the history of Japan and the influences which shaped its development as a country. Consequently, I now feel stimulated me to do some more reading around this subject – always a satisfying bonus to a reading experience.
As this is the first book in planned trilogy there was, inevitably, a sense of something “unfinished” when I reached the end of the story but, although I would in many ways like to discover the eventual fates of the characters who survived all their many trials and tribulations yet somehow managed to retain hope, I’m not sure that I would want to expose myself to any further graphic detail about the brutal treatment meted out to them, so it’s unlikely that I’ll continue with the series.
With its central themes of persecution because of religious faith, for being in any way different and for being prepared, whatever the odds, to fight against oppression, and reflections on how the influences of politics, trade and immigration can create a background against which such persecution can flourish, this is as much a contemporary story as an historical one and, for this reason this is a book which would make an interesting choice as a group read.
With thanks to Readers First and Harper Collins for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  linda.a. | Sep 15, 2019 |
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