Way of the Dragon, by Chris Bradford (fiction) – old Japan, new civil war, teen samurai

book cover of Way of the Dragon by Chris Bradford published by Disney HyperionTry to imagine being suddenly stranded half a world away from home, in a land where conformity is prized, where obedience is rewarded, where rigorous training from childhood ensures future success.

Jack’s amazing story begins with The Way of the Warrior  (book 1 reviewed) and continues in The Way of the Sword  (book 2 reviewed), your best introductions to the social structure, customs, and political unrest facing the young English teen in 17th century Japan.

Jump back into a foreign and fascinating world with the Young Samurai at your local library or independent bookstore


Book info: The Way of the Dragon (Young Samurai, book 3) / Chris Bradford. Disney Hyperion, 2011.  [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Recommendation:  Like juggling knives in a storm – learning the Two Heavens technique is that difficult for Jack. But war looms over Japan in 1613, so he and his friends at samurai school must master the secret sword moves soon.
When he was tossed ashore after ninja pirates hijacked the English ship his father was piloting and wrecked it, Jack couldn’t have imagined this – being adopted by an influential warrior family, learning intricate Japanese language and customs, attending samurai school. Many still sneeringly call him ‘gaijin’ because of his foreign appearance, but those who have seen his fighting skills respect the blond-haired teen.
Now one regional daimyo is gathering troops to attack the Emperor! The daimyo who sponsors Masamoto’s samurai school is loyal to the Son of Heaven, so all his warriors must rush to defend the capital of Osaka. Suddenly “the way of the dragon” is more than daily classes, as martial arts practice becomes urgent, their sword skills are honed, and Jack’s group takes every opportunity to perfect their moves with bo stick or arrow or throwing star.
The noise and dust of the battlefield is tremendous – here, the students’ abilities to concentrate under pressure will mean the difference between life and death. They must protect the future emperor at any cost. If the fighting reaches the tower stronghold that they defend, then only their cleverness and skill will keep the empire from falling into chaos.
Jack still longs to recover his father’s encoded navigation atlas from the one-eyed ninja who stole it. That rutter would allow Jack to pilot any ship away from Japan to his English home port –and back again, defying the Emperor’s command that foreigners stay away. But the evil ninja  DragonEye is not content with stealing Jack’s map home; he wants Jack’s lifeblood as well.
Can Jack and the samurai students keep the young ruler alive? Is there a traitor in their ranks?
Will the assassin DragonEye strike during the confusion of battle?

This exciting third book in the Young Samurai series brings readers into the closed society of 17th century Japan with every swordstroke and ceremonial bow. Be sure to start Jack’s amazing story from the beginning with The Way of the Warrior (book 1) and The Way of the Sword (book 2). (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

2 thoughts on “Way of the Dragon, by Chris Bradford (fiction) – old Japan, new civil war, teen samurai

  1. I’m finding that this series is often categorized as juvenile literature as opposed to young adult, even in libraries where there is a separate section, and Amazon rates it as grades 5 and up (ages 10 and up). Having not read it yet myself, I have to ask if the books would seem too easy, young, juvenile, etc. for older readers. Thoughts?

    • Dear A –
      Jack is a teenager dealing with treachery, loyalty and death; this is definitely *not* a young, middle-grade series! I guess that Amazon & others are categorizing it as grade 5 & up because it lacks cursing or big sex scenes. Great for YA (& MG) readers interested in martial arts, history, or a good action story!


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