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Item - Life as a Samurai

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Series: You Choose: Interactive History Adventures
Author: Doeden, Matt
Date: August 1, 2010
ISBN: 1429647833 / 9781429647830
Length: 112 pages
Number of Endings: 17
User Summary: As a samurai in feudal Japan, you may choose to fight in the Gempei War, to battle alongside Oda Nobunaga, or to have adventures as a wandering ronin.
Guillermo's Thoughts:

I found this book less interesting than other entries by Matt Doeden. Part of the reason may be that this book emphasizes honor more than strategy. This is in keeping with the type of character you are supposed to play but makes the outcomes of choices much more predictable. One of the three adventures included is also particularly unsatisfying since there is no ending that feels like a success. Maybe the author was trying to convey how difficult life was for real samurai, but the end result only leads to reader frustration. Sword of the Samurai in the Time Machine series, with all its flaws, was a much better experience.

Having read a couple of the historical You Choose books, I can say I like them less than the Time Machine series. That other series skillfully integrated historical facts into the adventure, so that the reader was simultaneously learning and being entertained. The You Choose series, on the other hand, places a stronger focus on action, with the historical facts tacked on in a series of appendices at the end of the book. This means that, in this series, learning feels more a chore than an adventure. I'm not saying they are bad gamebooks, but they do not compare favourably to what came before them.

More reviews by Guillermo

knifebat's Thoughts:

This series of books is written for children so that they can learn about history while having fun in the Choose Your Own Adventure book type of format. Personally I would not recommend this book to a child. I think that the Japanese history and culture maybe a bit too complex. That being said, if you're an adult this can be a fun read. It's a simplified intro to Japanese history.

You will be in major battles, you are going to be in heavy rain sneaking forward to ambush the enemy camp. Katana sword in hand you will be fighting to the death for honor. In the 3rd story arc you are a wandering Ronin and you end up in a town where they are holding duels like at an arena. There I encountered the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.That was easily the most entertaining part of the entire book. That's right, you get to duel Musashi, the greatest swordsman Japan has ever known.

The book was fun, although I must admit that The Oregon Trail from the same author and company was overall a more interesting read to me for some reason.

More reviews by knifebat

Kveto's Thoughts:

This would be a really interesting book for young people interested in the martial history of feudal Japan. It strikes a nice balance of adventure and fighting while teaching a bit of history and culture. It is greatly aided by the artwork, some from the samurai period itself.

Like all of these books, you are offered 3 eras: the Gempei war in 1100, daimyo Nobunaga in 1560 and a wandering ronin (masterless samurai) in 1637.

The first two are more concerned with battle tactics and feel a bit too similar, while the third, the ronin, offers more options to the individual and is the most interesting as a result. It also covers a period when the influence of Portugal was being rejected.

Overall, pretty interesting.

More reviews by Kveto

Special Thanks:Thanks to Ken G. for the softback cover images and to Guillermo Paredes for the hardback cover image, plot summary and other details.

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