Summary and book reviews of The Sadness of the Samurai by Victor del Arbol

The Sadness of the Samurai

A Novel

by Victor del Arbol

The Sadness of the Samurai by Victor del Arbol X
The Sadness of the Samurai by Victor del Arbol
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    May 2012, 400 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A betrayal and a murder in pro-Nazi Spain spark a struggle for power that grips a family for generations in this sweeping historical thriller.

Fierce, edgy, brisk, and enthralling, this brilliant novel by Victor del Árbol pushes the boundaries of the traditional historical novel and in doing so creates a work of incredible power that resonates long after the last page has been turned.

When Isabel, a Spanish aristocrat living in the pro-Nazi Spain of 1941, becomes involved in a plot to kill her Fascist husband, she finds herself betrayed by her mysterious lover. The effects of her betrayal play out in a violent struggle for power in both family and government over three generations, intertwining her story with that of a young lawyer named Maria forty years later. During the attempted Fascist coup of 1981, Maria is accused of plotting the prison escape of a man she successfully prosecuted for murder. As Maria's and Isabel's narratives unfold they encircle each other, creating a page-turning literary thriller firmly rooted in history.

Mérida, December 10, 1941

It was cold, and a blanket of hard snow covered the train tracks. Dirty snow, stained with soot. Brandishing his wooden sword in the air, a child contemplated the knot of rails, hypnotized.

The track split into two. One of the branch lines led west, and the other went east. A locomotive was stopped in the middle of the switch junction. It seemed disoriented, unable to choose between the two paths set out before it. The engineer stuck his head out of the narrow window. His gaze met the boy's, as if he were asking him which direction to take. Or that was how it seemed to the small child, who lifted his sword and pointed to the west. For no real reason. Just because it was one of the possible options. Because it was there.

When the station chief lifted the green flag, the engineer threw the cigarette he was smoking out the window and disappeared into the locomotive. A shrill whistle scared off the crows resting ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

I have to applaud any author who can weave so many threads into such a smart, fascinating yarn... If you like your thrillers simple, straightforward, good-guys/bad-guys, this is not a novel for you. But if, like me, you like to savor a sophisticated chiller then by all means dig into this one...continued

Full Review (351 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Media Reviews

Booklist
Tension oozes from every page… a gripping thriller that rivals the suspense of Alan Furst's Night Soldiers and C. J. Samson's Winter in Madrid.

Library Journal
An intriguing story of espionage, sex, and betrayal… this historical thriller does not disappoint. Readers who enjoy detective fiction, historical fiction, and psychological thrillers will find plenty to engross them.

Kirkus
Starred Review. A deftly plotted thriller that combines narrative momentum with literary ambition... masterful… A literary page-turner.

Author Blurb María Dueñas, author of The Time in Between
Haunting and disturbing, this magnificent novel reminds us that the door is never completely shut upon evil or the past.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Struggle for Democracy in Post-Franco Spain

Victor del Árbol's The Sadness of the Samurai begins in pro-Nazi Spain and takes place over three generations - the perfect political backdrop for the violence, betrayal, mystery and murder that takes place in the novel. Every nation struggles with its own demons, and 20th century Spain was no exception - experiencing civil war, dictatorial leaders, worker unrest, nascent democracy, and in 1981, a coup d'état that threatened to topple the newly formed democratic government.

After ruling Spain for nearly four decades, dictator Francisco Franco died in 1975. His appointed heir, Prince Juan Carlos de Borbón took over as King and lost little time restructuring Spain's government into a constitutional monarchy with a ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Sadness of the Samurai, try these:

  • Or the Bull Kills You jacket

    Or the Bull Kills You

    by Jason Webster

    Published 2012

    About this book

    More books by this author

    An accomplished debut mystery set in the high-stakes and decidedly murky world of bullfighting in Valencia, Spain

  • The Tourist jacket

    The Tourist

    by Olen Steinhauer

    Published 2010

    About this book

    More books by this author

    Milo Weaver used to be a “tourist” for the CIA—an undercover agent with no home, no identity. But when the arrest of an assassin exposes new layers of intrigue in his old cases, he has no choice but to go back undercover and find out who’s holding the strings once and for all.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join & Save $10!

Discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten. One-year membership: $29

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: One Night Two Souls Went Walking
    One Night Two Souls Went Walking
    by Ellen Cooney
    In One Night Two Souls Went Walking, we follow a young interfaith chaplain as she carries out her ...
  • Book Jacket: Truthtelling
    Truthtelling
    by Lynne Schwartz
    The word "unsayable" can mean something is too vast to be put into words. Alternatively, it can ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book Collectors
    The Book Collectors
    by Delphine Minoui
    About halfway through The Book Collectors, I was disappointed. I came into the book with a ...
  • Book Jacket: Blue Sky Kingdom
    Blue Sky Kingdom
    by Bruce Kirkby
    Who hasn't dreamed of escaping all of the trappings of today's modern life and finding a secluded, ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Smallest Lights in the Universe
    by Sara Seager

    A luminous memoir by an MIT astrophysicist who must reinvent herself in the wake of tragedy.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline
The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.
Win This Book!
Win Jack

Return to Gilead with Jack, the instant New York Times bestseller

Enter to win Marilynne Robinson's latest novel in her classic series.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I G I O Ear A O T O

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.