Get Your Free Audiobook

Non-member price: $73.10

After 2 months, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

The classic samurai novel about the real exploits of the most famous swordsman.

Miyamoto Musashi was the child of an era when Japan was emerging from decades of civil strife. Lured to the great Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 by the hope of becoming a samurai - without really knowing what it meant - he regains consciousness after the battle to find himself lying defeated, dazed, and wounded among thousands of the dead and dying. On his way home, he commits a rash act, becomes a fugitive, and brings life in his own village to a standstill - until he is captured by a weaponless Zen monk.

The lovely Otsu, seeing in Musashi her ideal of manliness, frees him from his tortuous punishment, but he is recaptured and imprisoned. During three years of solitary confinement, he delves into the classics of Japan and China. When he is set free again, he rejects the position of samurai and for the next several years pursues his goal relentlessly, looking neither to the left nor to the right.

Ever so slowly it dawns on him that following the way of the sword is not simply a matter of finding a target for his brute strength. Continually striving to perfect his technique, which leads him to a unique style of fighting with two swords simultaneously, he travels far and wide, challenging fighters of many disciplines, taking nature to be his ultimate and severest teacher and undergoing the rigorous training of those who follow the way. He is supremely successful in his encounters, but in The Art of War, he perceives the way of peaceful and prosperous governance and disciplines himself to be a real human being.

He becomes a reluctant hero to a host of people whose lives he has touched and by whom he has been touched. Inevitably, he has to pit his skill against the naked blade of his greatest rival.

Musashi is a novel in the best tradition of Japanese storytelling. It is a living story, subtle and imaginative, teeming with memorable characters, many of them historical. Interweaving themes of unrequited love, misguided revenge, filial piety, and absolute dedication to the way of the samurai, it depicts vividly a world Westerners know only vaguely. Full of gusto and humor, it has an epic quality and universal appeal.

©1971 Fumiko Yoshikawa (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Musashi

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    174
  • 4 Stars
    14
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    155
  • 4 Stars
    19
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    160
  • 4 Stars
    14
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Magnificent

Magnificently narrated! The character voices made the story incredibly enjoyable and helped me, as the reader, to easily identify who was speaking. The effort of the narator along with the magnificence and beauty of this story has forced me to give this a 5 star review. 53hours of pure enjoyment, I strongly recommend

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

what a story

An amazing story. you can lose yourself in it. grab a carton sit back .

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Well written, well translated, well performed

A fascinating story of swordsman Miyamoto Musashi set just after the Battle of Sekigahara in Japan in the early 17th century. Eiji Yoshikawa wrote the story in the 1930s, but is still able to describe the settings, culture and traditions at the time. It is a long book at over 900 pages - or 53 hours for the audiobook. The story can be divided in a number of ways - there are seven books officially - personally I view Takezo's (Musashi) development in two parts with the defining midway point being his battle against the Yoshioka school. The second half of the book as it moves towards Musashi's epic dual against Kojiro does slow down somewhat and goes on slight tangents. The "romance" between Musashi and Otsu also becomes a little annoying and almost soap opera-like after a while. Despite these it's well worth pushing through to the end.

The book beautifully translated by Charles S. Terry and there are very few signs that the prose was originally written in Japanese - a difficult task considering the difficulty of the language and the numerous historical, social and cultural peculiarities embedded in the story. Similarly, Brian Nishii does a masterful performance bringing the characters to life as well as ensuring that the Japanese names and words are properly pronounce throughout.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

An enriching journey performed and crafted

A well crafted journey enriched with Japanese culture and sprung to life by a outstanding narrator. Story is well rounded and well extrapolated, but can divulge into unevessary paths, hence the 4 stars in story section, but this is a small drawback compared to the numerous highlights of the book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

inspirational

a great heavy storey . to read it and understand in its native tounge would be exceptional .

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Worth every minute

Epic story infused with wisdom a must read for a being following “the way” ... thank you ...the narrator is a master

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book

Terrific book and very engaging and interesting reader. Thoroughly enjoy this book and would recommend to any

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

fantastic

read the book when I was younger. The audible version is just as good. Must listen-to audiobook.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

Captivating story and story telling. Highly recommend to anyone interested in Japanese and Samurai culture.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A compelling classic tale

A classic epic who's lessons are applicable across the ages.
Ever exciting with interesting characters who's stories and motivations you can't help but sympathise with.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Loud Lemur from Latveria
  • Loud Lemur from Latveria
  • 03-11-2018

My all-time favorite book

surprised I didn't write a review before now. just finished my third reading and second listen to this book. It's simply a masterpiece. I really hope kodansha does an audiobook for Yoshikawa's Taiko as well someday

67 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for The Walking Dude
  • The Walking Dude
  • 11-08-2019

Good Historical Novel

Musashi is a good historical novel. It recounts in great detail the life of Miyamoto Musashi the famous samurai. The story often feels as if it were cowritten by Charles Dickens and Akira Kurosawa. That’s a good thing. There’s a huge cast of interesting characters that cross paths in surprising was over many years. The path of Musashi from a young, irresponsible hothead into the great swordsman of legend is a wonderful journey to follow.

Yet in my opinion it’s about 10 hours too long. At a certain point it seemed that storylines were being recycled and tedious, irrelevant events were being given too much time. As the story ended villainous characters suddenly had magical, positive changes of heart that seemed to have more to do with a diminishing page count than an actual moral enlightenment. And much of the cast of characters don’t have a satisfying resolution to their arcs. You just don’t really know what happened to them. After fifty some hours of prose I expect to know what their fates are in some way.

I also didn’t go for the preface that pretty much denigrates a better book, Shogun, in an effort to cast this book in a positive light. You shouldn’t knock down a peer to make yourself look better.

This book is good, but it’s got problems. I would actually recommend watching the Samurai Trilogy that stars the great Toshiro Mifune that was adapted from this novel instead of reading or listening to the book as it’s a better constructed piece as a whole.

55 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Gerardo Ruiz Jr
  • Gerardo Ruiz Jr
  • 15-09-2018

A great book with a great narrator

This is one of my favorite books and was made better with the narrators performance.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Garrett J. A. Flowers
  • Garrett J. A. Flowers
  • 10-11-2018

Great story, great narrator

Such a well-written story, with so many different storylines developed and then woven together. This story provides a fascinating view into Japanese and samurai culture. 53 hours long and I was sad that it ended! The narrator is fantastic, with real feeling, seemingly authentic pronunciation of Japanese names and unique voices for nearly every character.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Brannon Burroughs
  • Brannon Burroughs
  • 27-01-2020

Must listen ... especially if you liked Shogun.

The narrator is great and is great world in which to lose yourself for 50 hours.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for William G. Voit
  • William G. Voit
  • 16-09-2019

One of the best books I have listened to

This have to be one of the best books I have listened to. Great story and the narration. Brings the story to life for me. The life of the Japanese Samurai has always intrigued me and this takes you into the day to day life and times of a Samurai plus gives you a glimpse into that time in history. Well worth the time and money for this one. Thanks so much for the work to bring it to me. Greatly appreciated.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Christopher
  • Christopher
  • 17-07-2020

I don’t know if it’s the narrator or 7 books in one

It’s a long adventure for a samurai with basically 6 characters. Weird to have an entire world and then in every city it just so happens the same 6 characters are there. I think the fact that there is no spice of life in 50 hours the narrator starts to get old since they don’t have very many voices to do.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for 匿名
  • 匿名
  • 15-09-2018

BIG Must

this book is definitely a big must for anybody that is a fan of Japanese culture and history

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Luie Guopo
  • Luie Guopo
  • 16-08-2019

Amazing book!!!

I was so engaged throughout and the narrator did an incredible job capturing the vibe of each scene. As far as the author, words could not do this book any justice. One of the best books I’ve ever read! I’m a martial artist (*jiu Jitsu) so this book spoke to my soul! Great book!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for J. Richards
  • J. Richards
  • 09-04-2019

wow

Best experience so far on audible in about a year and 30+ books. Maybe the best story of all time. The voices are done perfectly.

4 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-01-2019

Wonderful and engaging story

Having read the book many years ago, I found this much more enjoyable as it moved along at a good pace. Also the pronunciation of the names was much better mine.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for daniel
  • daniel
  • 15-01-2019

epic. hugely enjoyable.

great fun, compulsive listening,
like s cross between a dubbed Kung Fu film, historical novel, and high Japanese literature,
hits so many spots.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for GDS
  • GDS
  • 26-03-2019

Epic tale of the Samurai

Epic story that once started has to be finished do not be put off by the 53hrs they will fly by.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for SingAlex82
  • SingAlex82
  • 13-09-2018

A classic

I will always recommend this classic, over and over again. For those having a samurai spirit, this is for you

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mikhael
  • Mikhael
  • 14-05-2019

everyone should read this

Although telling a story about a samurai it really is about life itself. Read it.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for PETER O DRAKE
  • PETER O DRAKE
  • 11-05-2019

My book of the decade

Thanks this is the best book l have had the pleasure to hear. A true delight

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Iuri Martinez
  • Iuri Martinez
  • 22-03-2019

The best book of my life.

This book is my bible.

I’ve read it 10 years ago and decided to try the audio book version on my second time.

The story is amazing as well as the performances.

I recommend it to everyone who’s interested in a deeper understanding of life itself.

Yes. It’s a philosophy book.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ben Handley
  • Ben Handley
  • 22-01-2020

Americanised Japan

Very Americanised, the poor translation and reading took me out of the story. far too many modern terms and words. Disappointed as was looking forward to listening.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ian Henley
  • Ian Henley
  • 26-05-2019

Find a different translation

Really disappointed I wasted a precious credit on this. The translation into English is appalling, full of cliches and lazy writing. I could not stand it and gave up after a few chapters. Shame, as I suspect the original work is well worth attention. I also found the reader's rendition of speech wholly unconvincing.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Peter
  • Peter
  • 17-04-2021

A powerful, important listen for any fans of Japanese history, culture or martial arts.

I think the best word to describe this book would be ‘powerful’. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was moving, nor the most engaging book ever, but it was definitely a powerful and transformative listen. While the story told is heavily dramatised and not wholly historically accurate, it is sufficiently grounded in historical truth as to thoroughly transport the listener to early Edo-period Japan.

On the surface, Musashi is about one man’s journey to becoming the greatest swordsman of the age. However, at its core, it is really a tale of his path to spiritual enlightenment and his search for a single unifying understanding that can be applied to everything from sword-fighting to painting to farming. This is not really an idea that is ever clearly expressed in the story, it is more something that one comes to realise upon completing it.

As I noted before, it is not the most engaging book I’ve ever read/listened to - I never really got bored of listening to it, but there were also stretches of the book where I didn’t feel particularly driven to continue from where I left off. However, there were also parts where I was thoroughly invested and was intrigued to see where the story would go.

The book is expertly narrated by Brian Nishii, who, of course, pronounces everything perfectly, brings the cast to life with unique, recognisable voices, and overall injects a real liveliness to the tale.

I would encourage anyone interested to give this book a go. Having said that, it is not a perfect book, and I will now address some of the criticisms or negative points I have.

Firstly, it is important to note that while this is an unabridged recording, the English translation of which this is a recording is in itself abridged from the original Japanese novel. It is difficult to find any substantial information about the extent of the abridgement - the English translation itself is already almost 1000 pages long. The only place I could find a listing for the length of the full Japanese text placed it at about 3000 pages, though it is important to note that Japanese page count is often inflated by comparison (less text is generally presented per page as far as I can determine).

There are some problems with the book that may be faults with the abridgement of the translation, or they may have been present in the original text. Specifically, towards the end of the book, there are a couple of points where it feels like we have missed several chapters earlier on in the book - one character in particular is introduced in such a way as to suggest he played an important role towards the start of the story, but is in fact absent from any mention up to his apparent ‘return’ later in the book.

In addition, the story suddenly accelerates in pace in the last ‘book’ (the story is divided into seven such ‘books’), but it is hard to know if the odd pacing here is another victim of the abridged translation or if it is present in the original work. It very much feels that the author was given a deadline to finish the work, and so quickly cut everything but the central tale for the final few chapters. I personally felt that, while the story had a satisfying ending, I would have welcomed another chapter or two to serve as an epilogue of sorts for the climactic events of the final chapters.

On the other hand, there are extended sections earlier on in the story that some people may find tedious or overly tangential. There are points where we leave the main character for 10 chapters or so to follow various subplots. I would not be able to identify any point in the story specifically that I feel could have been cut, but there were definitely points where I didn’t feel very invested and had to force myself to find the time to continue listening.

Finally, the book has a fairly large cast, and some readers may struggle to remember who is who (and additionally where is where). I am fairly familiar with Japanese names and media so I feel like I may have had an advantage over people unfamiliar with lots of Japanese names and naming conventions, but even I began to struggle remembering a handful of characters towards the end. For instance, throughout the book we meet five women called Otsū, Osugi, Okō, Ogin, Otsuru - at least three of these make frequent appearances and are important to remember. I have found that there are extremely limited resources when it comes to anything resembling a ‘who’s who’ to Musashi, so I would encourage readers/listeners to make brief notes of who is who if they expect they might struggle with this. I am slowly working on making a cast list at the moment that I intend to eventually add to the Wikipedia page for the novel, but in the time being, don’t expect to have too much luck looking up character names (especially from the later parts of the story).

Overall, in spite of its flaws, I am really glad I listened to this book. I’ve never read or listened to anything quite like it, and am not sure if I ever will again. Someday I’d like to try reading the original Japanese version, but I’m a long way away from that kind of language proficiency. Until then, this serves as an excellent standalone tale for anyone interested.

1 person found this helpful

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.