Lord Oda is dead – again – and Lord Tokugawa has taken command of his armies, making him the most powerful daimyo in the land. Powerful enough to stand against the boy Shogun, if he wanted. Taro’s true father still doesn’t know his son is alive, so Taro takes shelter with his friends at the monastery on Mount Hiei, close to his mother’s grave. It seems safe, up there on the mountainside, but unbeknown to Taro, the evil Kenji Kira is assembling an army of the dead…
Meanwhile, just outside the capital city, Edo, an ancient volcano has awoken. The inhabitants live in fear of the dragon under the earth that threatens their homes. The boy Shogun puts out an appeal: the one who kills the dragon will be made a lord, and given land to rule over.
Seeing his opportunity to finally deserve Hana’s hand in marriage, Taro decides to kill the dragon. First he must find the legendary sword Kusanagi, supposedly one of the treasures owned by the boy Shogun, but actually lost centuries before in the great sea battle between the Heike and the Genji - a sword now rumoured to be guarded by the dragon of the sea. It’s a quest that will take Taro to the watery limits of the country, to the lairs of dragons, to a terrible confrontation with Kenji Kira, and ultimately back to Shirahama, where everything began and some things, at least, will come to an end. But there’s something about Kusanagi that Taro has not quite realized: hold that sword, and you hold the divine right to rule Japan.
Finally, Taro is forced to make his stand, alongside his real father, Lord Tokugawa, and his oldest friend, Hiro, for dragons are not the only monsters on this earth, and Kenji Kira may be mad, but there is one thing he understands: the inevitable betrayal of living things. As the end of the journey nears, Taro learns the hardest lesson: that things are never as they appear, and that nothing and no one can be trusted.
Author: Lake, Nick
Publisher: US: Simon & Schuster; French: Gallimard Jeunesse;
Schedule: Delivered; Publication: Spring 2012