A short and informal review for this one. Nice book, very well written. Lots of fun to read - the plot is gripping, the characters are well developed, and the historical background is fascinating. Japanese customs are very unusual, very interesting, very inspiring. Though they don't always make sense, the author did a great job promoting mutual tolerance in conflicting issues. Not all western customs make sense either... Moreover, he excellently presents the mind-blowingly complex politics in which the various rulers of Japan were involved. It's fun to read how smart one should've been to succeed in that world. One gripe though - the book is too long, almost 1200 pages. Could've been shorter, although not by much.