Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Heart of the Ronin (The Ronin Trilogy, #1)” as Want to Read:
Heart of the Ronin (The Ronin Trilogy, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Excerpt

Heart of the Ronin (The Ronin Trilogy #1)

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  239 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Fantasy writer Travis Heermann (THE IVORY STAR) brings thirteenth-century Japan alive in HEART OF THE RONIN, the first installment of a trilogy. Ken'ishi is just 17 years old and an orphan after the mysterious death of his parents. He dreams of training with a master who will some day help him become a samurai. Traveling with Silver Crane, a sword that belonged to his fath ...more
Paperback, 386 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by (first published February 18th 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Heart of the Ronin, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Heart of the Ronin

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
“[Small birds] forgot kindness so quickly and remembered wrongs for so long … much like people.”

Well—conceived and well-written Japanese historical fantasy. Kind of a parallel universe with this world during the Kamakura shogunate. Plus an apt mix of real and fantastic.

“Once you got high enough, you cannot see the evils happening far below … while believing you see everything.

Evokes another time and another place. A story as old as time. Multiple points of view and story arcs draw the reader int
Jul 21, 2009 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy fans who like japanese history with samurai
Ken-eshi is a masterless samurai called a Ronin in ancient feudal Japan. He possesses a legendary sword and is looking for a Lord to serve, but mostly he is hungry as he walks from village to village with his dog. It seems like any other feudal story except Ken-eshi is able to talk to his dog, he was raised by a tenga, and his sword seems to be able to warn him of danger.

Set in a could have been feudal Japan, this medieval Fantasy is a welcome change from the oftentimes feudal English countrysid
Carl Alves
Apr 11, 2013 Carl Alves rated it it was amazing
Heart of the Ronin is set in feudal Japan, a setting that Travis Heermann wove into the story with great skill to the point where it almost becomes like an extra character in the story. The story's protagonist, Ken'ishi, is an outsider as his name would suggest. Taught in the art of the samurai by a most unusual instructor, Ken'ishi is a skilled warrior who is trying to find a place in society that isn't ready to accept him. Besides his skill as a warrior, Ken'ishi is also able to speak with ani ...more
Nikko Lee
Feb 24, 2011 Nikko Lee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Why I listened to this audiobook?
In generally, I am fascinated by all things Japanese. I'd heard Heart of the Ronin by Travis Heermann promo'ed on Myr Lafferty's 'I Should Be Writing' podcast then again on Adventures in SciFi Publishing. These promos coincided with the December release of the Kindle version of the book, even though the print and audiobooks were released in 2009.

My one sentence summary:
Ken'ichi, a wandering Ronin raised by a Tengu, searches to find his place in a politically vola
Heart of the Ronin is an interesting historical fantasy set in the Japan of the late 1200's when the country is officially unified under the Minamoto Shogunate after the victory of that clan in the civil war against the Taira clan and the utter destruction of the Taira lines. But the Minamoto proved themselves weak and a lesser line, the Hojo clan usurped the Shogun power though holding it in his name.

On the continent the great Mongol Empire established by Genghis is at its height under the abl
Julia Dvorin
Dec 02, 2015 Julia Dvorin rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I read the whole Ronin trilogy one after another so this review is really of the whole thing. I liked these books a lot, and they definitely kept me interested the whole way through. Great stuff if you like Japanese folklore, samurai movies, and/or straightforward epic fantasy that comes in a flavor other than generic medieval European. High points: good characters that grow over the course of the series, a smattering of interesting magic, and classic themes of honor, love, duty, and good vs. ev ...more
Jul 06, 2015 Eric rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too Many Balls In The Air, Too Many Telegraphed Punches

The book has potential. There are things in here I liked a great deal - enough that I bought the book after reading the sample.

The problem is that the author has too many plots running at the same time. Some authors can handle this number of simultaneous stories. This one, sadly, could not.

Not only that, but I have a pretty good idea how the series is going to end. To many plot points within the book were too clearly telegraphed for me to be
Thomas A.
Mar 08, 2013 Thomas A. rated it it was amazing
Great dynamic between characters with such great relationships. So glad I supported the Kickstarter for Sword of the Ronin.
Mark Pearson
Sep 04, 2011 Mark Pearson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very well researched highly readable novel. It has a cracking storyline that hooks you from the first chapter and keeps you reading right through to the end because it is structured in such a way as to end each chapter on a cliffhanger.

Travis Heerman knows his Japanese history, culture, customs, and mythology inside out, and even when he stretches the facts to fit the story, he does it in such a way that it remains convincing whether or not the reader has an intimate knowledge of Japan
Sep 10, 2012 Mitchell rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I was given the second book in the trilogy by Goodreads First Reads giveaways. Of course, when I signed up for the giveaways, I didn't realize it was the second book, so of course, when I got it, I had to go and get this, the first book in the series.

This book is about Ken'ishi, a ronin in an alternative 13th century Japan. We know its 13th century due to the threat of Kublai Khan invasion from mainland Asia. We also know it is alternative due to the heavy presence of magic and demons. I though
Feb 19, 2014 Shelley rated it liked it
I received this book as a Goodreads win and the author was very quick at sending it to me (thanks). Initially I was not crazy about the story and I found it predictable but as the book continued the storyline improved, the characters were flushed out and it became a much better read. The way the book was ended was very good -concluding one part of the story but still leaving many aspects unfinished for the second book. Some of the characters both good and evil ones are interesting. I do not know ...more
Michael *Windrunner*
Dec 22, 2014 Michael *Windrunner* rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, reviewed, 2015
I loved the start of this book and I had high hopes. The lone big hearted ronin samurai trying to find his place in the world. He is an honor filled person in a world of complacency. However, the story, somewhat abruptly, changed from that start. His character shifted yet his writing lack clear direction (although I maybe get this... see below). He does still have honor, but he is a little backwards with it at time. The end result is that I didn't really find myself rooting for him very much. He ...more
Aug 22, 2016 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled across this one when I was looking for some martial arts books for study, and it looked interesting. Since the first volume was available for free on my Kindle Unlimited account, I gave it a spin, and rapidly went on to the sequels. Although set in feudal Japan, and following the story of a ronin, a masterless samurai, the writing style is very “western” in its approach, which gave them an interesting flavor – sort of like watching a completely foreign culture and concept develop from ...more
Joe Slavinsky
Jan 16, 2016 Joe Slavinsky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting, ambitious first novel. It's the first of a trilogy about a Ronin(a masterless samurai, for those who don't know), born of a famous samurai father, who is killed with his wife, when the Ronin is a baby. The baby is raised by a tengu(mythical Japanese creature more bird than man), until he is 17, then turned out into the world with his father's mystical sword, to find his destiny. Oh, and the tengu never tells him his father's name, just that he was a famous warrior. I really ...more
This book has been compared toAcross the Nightingale Floorand its sequels. I think that there are more fantasy elements in Heart of the Ronin. Heermann makes good use of creatures from Japanese myth. There is also a prominent focus on martial arts. It's also important to point out that Heart of the Ronin takes place a great deal earlier in Japanese history than Lian Hearn's series does. It's well done so far as it goes, but I tend not to like the practice of creating trilogies by arbitrarily cho ...more
Jun 13, 2012 M&Y rated it liked it
There were a few awkward transitions...mostly towards the beginning of the story. Once I got into the flow of the book, I was hooked. The characters had redeeming qualities - I WANT them to succeed and I want to find out what happens to them in the next book.

I also appreciated that it was a pretty easy read. I was a little afraid - my history studies focused more on the Brits and French more than the Japanese, so I thought I would get lost, but I didn't. In fact, not knowing much about the histo
Dec 05, 2010 Anni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bagian I dari trilogi Ronin. Cerita yg menarik tentang seorang samurai tanpa tuan (Ken Ishi) yg dididik oleh jin. Kadang sangat telengas namun penuh rasa kemanuasiaan. Jatuh cinta dengan putri seorang Lord yang mahir bela diri namun terpaksa berpisah karena berbeda kasta. Cerita ini bercampur antara realitas dan khayalan. Namun tetap asyik dibaca sampai akhir dan tidak sabar menunggu Buku II dan III nya.
Sep 10, 2016 Emmy rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
I'm not crazy about cliffhanger series (thus the four stars).
I enjoyed this first book very much!!
However, I will not follow the trilogy for the ending.
The writing was flawless and it was easy to get lost in the story. The characters were young, smart, and believable.
I just don't follow many cliffhangers.
Sep 05, 2012 Karen rated it did not like it
Shelves: historical, podcast
I'm not quite sure why I abandoned this podcast. It may have been that I just wasn't in the mood for this particular style of fiction. For some reason the story didn't quite catch me. I have a suspicion that I'd like this much better in written form than as a podcast. I'll probably give it a try again in written form.
Dec 12, 2008 Goran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I have read it was truly memorable and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The setting is what really makes this book stand out for me: feudal Japan with all the legends and myths coming to life. The characters are realistic, the setting is absolutely eye opening and the plot makes it all come together so wonderfully. An absolute must read.
Daniel Devine
Hard for me to give an unbiased review since I automatically compare it to Musashi (which the author was clearly a fan of). Enjoyed it overall but it somehow combined some unexpected items but still managed to feel too predictable.
Mar 07, 2015 Maeve rated it really liked it
I definitely enjoyed reading this book. It had an interesting and unique plot, which was definitely the high point, but I didn't find the author's writing amazingly compelling. I liked reading it though, and I do look forward to reading the next novel in the series.
Apr 29, 2009 Beth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hated this fantasy novel about a teen samuri. It might have worked better as a graphic novel.
Mat Dolton
Nov 20, 2012 Mat Dolton rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed it, can't wait for the second book
Andy McIsaac
Jun 23, 2016 Andy McIsaac rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Aarushi G
Sep 02, 2016 Aarushi G rated it liked it
Alright. A bit bland at times.
Sep 30, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stopped on page 140+. Love the Japanese history but the fantasy elements seem forced into the narrative and aren't believable.
Aug 19, 2010 Sweetdhee marked it as wishlist  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: samurai
whuaaaaaaaaa... samuraaaaaaaaaai...
L.J. Bale
Mar 12, 2014 L.J. Bale rated it it was amazing
Couln't put this down!

I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in Samurai or Japanese folklore. Travis Heerman is a true story teller!
Lori Mason
Apr 07, 2009 Lori Mason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, z2009
A sort of Asian fairy tale. Engaging beginning and middle, but it kind of lost oomph toward the end.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
You got too much fantasy in my history! Or vice versa... 2 5 Aug 26, 2014 05:19PM  
  • Quiet Killing (Promise McNeal Mysteries #2)
  • M.A.X. Muscle Plan, The
  • Just Honor God: The 27-Day Challenge
  • A History Renewed (The Mercer Legacy, #2)
  • Andy the Spider
  • Gypsy Spirit: What My Boat Taught Me About Love And Life
  • The Great and Terrible Quest
  • Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriots
  • Green To Go (Buck Reilly Adventure #2)
  • Ealdorman (The Earls of Mercia Series)
  • The Hermetica of Elysium (The Elysium Texts, #1)
  • The Hermit Thrush Sings
  • It's a Love Game
  • The Catholic Bible Concordance for the Revised Standard Version
  • Changes From a Sunset
  • Lightbreaker (Codex of Souls, #1)
  • A Thousand Deaths
  • The Tales of Tanglewood: The Lon Dubh Whistle
Freelance writer, English instructor, poker player, biker, and roustabout, Travis Heermann is the author of two published novels, a metric ton of role-playing game work both in print and online, and has sold short fiction pieces to several anthologies and magazines. He taught English in Japan for three years, where he stood out like a space alien with his head on fire. He now lives in a much large ...more
More about Travis Heermann...

Other Books in the Series

The Ronin Trilogy (4 books)
  • Sword of the Ronin (The Ronin Trilogy, #2)
  • The Ronin and the Green Maiden (The Ronin Trilogy, #2.5)
  • Spirit of the Ronin (The Ronin Trilogy, #3)

Share This Book

“It was always best to have contingency plans, and plans within plans.” 1 likes
More quotes…