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Samurai Detective #4

The Sword That Cut the Burning Grass

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When fourteen-year-old samurai apprentice Seikei is sent on a mission by the shogun, he believes it to be a simple one: convince the fourteen-year-old emperor to resume his ceremonial duties. But then the emperor is kidnapped, and Seikei finds himself in the middle of an elaborate plot to overthrow the shogun. With the help of a mysterious warrior, he must rescue the emperor before the sacred sword—said to be unbeatable in battle—falls into the wrong hands. Seikei knows he must succeed, or bloodshed will stain the land.

211 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2005

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About the author

Dorothy Hoobler

101 books56 followers
Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, a married couple who have written numerous books together, were drawn to this story of great writers inspiring each other collaboratively. Their most recent novel, In Darkness, Death, won a 2005 Edgar Award. They live in New York City.

* Samurai Detective
* Century Kids
* Her Story
* Images Across The Ages
* American Family Album

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5 stars
134 (38%)
4 stars
139 (39%)
3 stars
64 (18%)
2 stars
8 (2%)
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6 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews
14 reviews
July 26, 2008
I read the series out of order, but was still happy with each book. This is the first of the series that I read, and will delight readers young and old.

This book is historical fiction, so if you are not into Japanese samurai from the eighteenth century, you may not find it as fascinating, but it is still worth the read due to the detailed, vivid descriptions created by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler.
Profile Image for Annie.
923 reviews311 followers
February 6, 2021
Definitely the best plot out of the sequels (books 2, 3, and this one, 4). Almost a startlingly quick pace, actually-- sort of a headrush. A lot happens in 200 pages.

... and once again, I stand by my complaint: Where is Judge Ooka? After the first book, he's barely in the series, other than the first and last chapter of each book. Seikei cannot hold this entire series up himself.

Speaking of which-- it really sinks in what a fool Seikei is. I mean, seriously! Up until now I've been giving him a break: he was adopted by the judge, bringing him into a totally different caste that he hasn't learned all his life. I get it. Sounds rough. But this goes beyond that. Sure, Seikei is honorable to a fault (my God, beat a dead horse why don't you), and he's pretty brave in pursuit of carrying out that honor. But he is definitely a few hosannas short of a miracle, you know?

That's okay, though. Protags don't always need to be geniuses.

... that's why we need Judge Ooka to be more present. To serve as a nice foil to Seikei's tomfoolery. Nobody read Sherlock Holmes to listen to Watson be average for a hundred pages. Just saying.
Profile Image for  Marla.
1,973 reviews121 followers
July 14, 2021
4.5 stars.. Another fantastic mystery featuring my favorite young samurai detective, Seikei. I am a sucker for kings/emperors/shoguns in disguise walking among their commoner subjects. The 14 year old emperor is missing and the shogun asks 14 year old Seikei to convince the emperor to return to his duties.

Seikei is aided by an old ronin (masterless samurai) thief who is also interested in the missing emperor. But it is difficult to determine which warriors are on the side of good. The emperor must complete the ritual at the harvest festival or the crops may not be bountiful.

I love the Japanese culture that is woven into Ms. Hoobler's stories of Seikei. In this episode, the emperor's deity, installation and duties are revealed. Though in modern times, readers may not realize that until Japan's fall in WW2, the Japanese people accepted the emperor as a god, being descended from Amaterasu.

* Kinkakuji ~ Golden Pavilion
* Boy emperor

* Secret Guards of the Inner Garden, shogun's men
* Crime to even mention Guards of the Inner Garden
* Seikei on his own without Lord Ooka or even Bunzo

running away, kidnapping
Profile Image for Rad.
680 reviews24 followers
May 13, 2011
Here is what I love about these Samurai Detective novels:

1. SLIM as a motherfucker. No unnecessary text. (It took me about five tries to spell 'unnecessary' correctly)
2. Seikei is like James Bond, except I actually like him. And also in that he meets a different girl every book.
3. Judge Ooka is AWESOME.
4. I learn stuff! Today I was able to wow my kids with the fact that "risu" means "squirrel" in Japanese. My kids then proceeded to tell me what squirrel is in Chinese and Spanish. (It's one of those schools.)
5. The mysteries aren't necessarily "whodunnits," but are still page-turners.

Basically, this is one of my most favorite series, and a series that really turned Historical Fiction around for me.
4 reviews1 follower
October 25, 2022
The Sword That Cut the Burning Grass by Dorothy Hoobler and Thomas Hoobler. Is a book about a 14 year old Samurai named Seikei,with the help of a servant girl named Hato sets out on an adventure to save the kidnaped emperor. The Lexile level is 720L.

The main turning point was “Here it was that Seikei sat, folded his leg, and carefully began to unroll the scroll”(pg82). Because after he read the scroll he decided to steal the scroll. After he stole it the shogun sent out soldiers to chase after Seikei, which made him encounter a servant girl named Hato. That would help Seikei rescue the emperor from Lord Hanzo.

I really liked this book because of the great way honor is shown in this book. Like when Seiki left behind his swords because he lost his honor. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story and adventure.In my opinion this book was a little hard to read because it had a lot of foreign names. But everything else was easy to read and understand. My favorite part of the book was when Seiki left behind his swords for honor. Then later on in the book he is made a wood sword for getting his honor back. But overall I really enjoyed this book and I think you should read it.

Profile Image for S.
130 reviews1 follower
December 17, 2021
Ok- Seikei is an idiot and it’s frustrating to see him not grow AT ALL. Considering how wise and skillful Judge Ooka and Gunzo are, presumably Seikei should be growing into a fine samurai but this is not the case. The one redeeming factor about him that allows him to be foolish but a good protagonist was his steadfast idealism and focus on honor. In the beginning of the book, you already see Seikei abusing power, like other corrupt samurai he’s seen in the last three books. So now he is dishonorable and foolish so he’s just the worst.
Just when he seemed to be getting better, he is an idiot again towards the end of the book. I feel that he didn’t need to be written to be this way- the plot was more complex this time with mystery and politics getting involved and there was plenty of ways for Seikei to slowly realize what Is happening without being dumb about it.

I also felt like the writing suffered a tad in this book. There’s a part where they literally write that a “sword appeared at his chest.” I was genuinely confused at that statement - did someone throw a sword at him (hilt included)? Did someone stab him? Did he pick up his own sword? Yes, you’ll get it within another two sentences what’s going on but considering that they write everything else very clearly (be headings, cutting off limbs, etc), not sure why this particular part had to be so confusing.

More Ooka would have been nice but the presence of any adult supervisor made the story better. As always, enjoyed learning about Japanese history and culture - I’m impressed they find something totally new every time!
Profile Image for L.A. James.
Author 2 books32 followers
November 6, 2018
This is book 4 in the Samurai Detective series.

It is a great story, and I gotta tell you that the cover does not do it justice, and it frustrates me that it is even on the book. The writing of the book is well done. Don't let the cover hinder you.
Profile Image for Angela Boord.
Author 8 books89 followers
July 7, 2020
This series is so solid, and all of us (10-adult) are really enjoying it. Seikei continues to develop as a character as he grows up, and it is really satisfying to read mystery/thrillers for a young YA audience that don't skimp on stakes.
855 reviews1 follower
July 27, 2020
The Demon in the Teahouse is still the best one. But The Sword that Cut the Burning Grass is still very good. Some of the happenings seem to stretch credulity and the primary character doesn't appear to grow properly.
Also, more violent then the first books.
Profile Image for Megan.
122 reviews3 followers
December 31, 2017
I enjoy seeing what trouble Seikei gets himself into in each book. I also enjoy seei,g Seikei grow up in each book.
Profile Image for doowopapocalypse.
190 reviews1 follower
March 18, 2023
Faced with a fairly devious plot to challenge the power of old Japan, Seikei still feels like a character that happens to be around rather than a prime mover.
Profile Image for Gaby.
649 reviews22 followers
June 8, 2009
During the period of Yoshimune, the 8th shogun of the Tokugawa family, Judge Ooka was well respected for his wise and honest decisions and regarded as the Sherlock Holmes of Japan.

Seikei was born to a merchant family, but had won the Judge's respect when he voluntarily assisted him solve a case and prevent serious injustice. Judge Ooka adopted Seikei and is fulfilling Seikei's dream to become a samurai.
Now fourteen year old samurai apprentice Seikei is called upon to assist his adoptive father, Judge Ooaki, serve the Shogun. The emperor of Japan is a young boy and has refused to perform his duties. The Shogun sends Seikei to Kyoto convince the emperor to leave the temple and to resume his duties. The Shogun explains that the emperor must make a public appearance at the time of the spring solstice, plow a furrow of land and sow rice seeds to maintain the peace. If the emperor fails to perform this duty, the farmers will fear for the harvest and will be unable to deliver the proper quotas to their daimyo lords, and this will result in widespread unrest. Seikei must convince the emperor to resume his duties.
Seikei meets with the emperor, but soon after he leaves the temple, sudden violence erupts. The emperor is suddenly missing and Seikei is arrested.

To save himself and to serve his country, young Seikei must track down the emperor's whereabouts and prevent a daimyo's grab for control with the help a mysterious samurai and a young serving girl. Meanwhile, Judge Ooaki is unaware of the dangers that track his young charge.

I enjoy historical fiction and detective novels. Japan during the 1700s, the time of the powerful Shoguns, holds particular fascination for me. Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler's series are made even more enjoyable by their choice of lead characters. Judge Ooka is a historical figure with a reputation for wise and honest decisions and has been described as the Sherlock Holmes of Japan. He served the 8th shogun of the Tokugawa family. In his official capacity, Judge Ooka is assigned to solve crimes and to help the Shogun maintain the peace. Judge Ooka is assisted by his adoptive son, the young Seikei.

The point of view of Judge Ooka's adoptive son, Seikei works particularly well. Born as a merchant's son, Seikei wants to become worthy of his new samurai status. Seikei has a strong sense of honor and considerable courage but is still developing his samurai skills. When asked which do he values more, life or honor? "Honor," replies Seikei dutifully, "because everyone must die, but honor lasts forever."

Since a fourteen year old boy can blend in and observe a great deal, Seikei undertakes critical missions much more than an easily recognized official of the Shogun. Stout of heart and determined, Seikei serves his father, the Shogun and the Emperor well. This particular installment is one of the more captivating of the series because of the friendships and adventures that Seikei makes along the way.
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,912 reviews192 followers
December 30, 2010
This is the fourth book in the six book Samurai Mysteries series by the Hooblers. It was a great addition to the series and Seikei starts to show a lot of maturity in some of the decisions that he makes.

In this book Seikei is sent by the shogun to try and convince the boy-emperor to resume his duties. The emperor is a boy Seikei's age and has run away to a temple because he does not believe he is the true emperor. Seikei sets out to find the emperor but runs amok of a plot that is much bigger than just a one foolish young boy. Seikei will have to navigate his way through layers of treachery is he is going to save the emperor and the shogun.

This was the best book in this series so far. Seikei matures a lot and is making independent decisions and traveling on his own. Again there is a lot of adventure, you can tell that Seikei has learned from past decisions. He is not so naive and actually does a good job thinking things through. We also get some very cool new characters that travel with Seikei. One is Hato, a spunky young girl who believes Seikei is actually the emperor and the other is Reigen, a mysterious old man who fights awesome. Each of the books has focused on some aspect of Japanese history and this book explains a lot about the emperor and the traditions surrounding that position.

Overall this was a great book. As with previous books the writing is at a bit lower level than most young adult books, but it is more complex than then first few books. The plot is also more complex than previous books. People will enjoy all the action and adventure as well as the dilemmas Seikei is faced with. I look forward to reading the next book and seeing what kind of trouble Seikei gets into this next time.
Profile Image for Azzan Khan.
4 reviews3 followers
March 20, 2014
Oh no the emperor has gone missing! What should we do? Who will find him? What happened to him? Well this job is for none other than young Sekie the samurai detective.Join him in a case he never had come across from.He learned from the shogun himself that the emperor is the same age as Sekie and he didn't want to be emperor anymore.But without the emperor then he couldn't plant the seed to bring luck to the farmers,and without the emperor to plant the seeds then the farmers will refuse to plant the rice and without the rice the economy of feudal Japan will go down!Now Sekie is stuck with convincing the emperor to go back to his place without forcing him to.Do you think Sekie has the skills to persuade the emperor to go back to his place? Well its not going to be easy because theirs a jealous general spy who wants to do the job but was rejected because he was too forceful.Well to find out what happens at the end get the book and your questions will be answered.
Profile Image for Madeline.
72 reviews7 followers
February 21, 2019
I forgot how good this book was. After a quick re-read, I think it has become my second favorite in the Samurai Detective series.

It’s a nice change of pace that Judge Ooka's not in it much. It give Seikei a chance to prove himself even more than he has—of course, he also makes a few poor decisions, gets blamed for *everything*, and almost loses his honor, but he always finds a way to overcome his obstacles.

I do wish we could have seen Yasuhito a little more since the whole book revolves around him, and I could have done with more Hato, too. Even though she could have used more development, I still thought she was a funny character; hopefully we'll see more of her in one of the remaining books. Reigen was pretty awesome, especially when he was wielding Kusanagi (yikes!).

This is a great installment in the series, though none of the books disappoint. Can't wait to read the remaining two.
Profile Image for Evie.
834 reviews10 followers
June 15, 2015
These are always great reads, but I felt like this one really hit the mark. I still have the same criticisms: Seikei's actions have dire consequences that are too easily resolved or forgotten. Sometimes people go missing or leave without much commentary, done in a too-convenient fashion. But, overall, the story taught me so much about Japanese culture and legends, and was thoroughly entertaining. Pieces fit together very well, leading to the thrilling conclusion. Something to be considered, too, is that the story doesn't shy away from violence or the cruelty of feudal systems. You very much know how deadly situations can be, and how Seikei is all too aware of the risks he takes even walking into a room.
Wrapping up, the ending is neat, even including a bit of humor, though again, so much is forgiven that it's a bit unbelievable (perhaps the samurai status is enough?). Regardless, I'll definitely be keeping on with these books.
Profile Image for Joyce.
375 reviews52 followers
July 10, 2016
Not even sure how I ended up in possession of this YA novel, but it strikes me as exactly the type of book that parents and libraries wish on teenagers, who resist for possibly good reason. Who could object to a 14 year old protagonist who loves and respects his father, and a plot grounded in good historical research? And yet... there is just so much EXPLAINING. I don't fault the authors, I doubt that this particular plot could possibly have made the slightest sense without a lot of telling as well as showing... but there it is. The few sparks of life and humor here are provided by the least historically-accurate character, a young female cook, but she's a little bit Jackie Chan when the rest of the novel is more Kurosawa.
38 reviews
August 31, 2011
The story itself was pretty awesome, and was a very good epic of a imaginary hero. I really liked how they plotted the story, making it really based on true mythology and history. It seemed very easy to understand. I think this book should of been longer, because it was so very good. It also has a very good plot, and had such good word choice. I've learned more Japanese words in the book. The only thing left a mystery to me was the origin of the character "Hato" in the story. The best part for me was at the end, and also ended with a funny moment, to me at least.
1 review
September 17, 2010
the sword that cut the burning grass is about a man or samuri that has a misson on finding the sercet that once tookmout a whole village and the emiper wants to find it but on his long journy he face trouble at ever corner of people that wants this same sword.This book was very boring at first but when u read som more the book start getting you to read more about the empire and the man on the jorney I think that if you like history and stuff that not real this book is for you.
52 reviews
August 14, 2009
Interesting. I loved learning more about 18th Century Japan. This the 3rd in a series and I haven't read the first two, so I was missing out on some character development. Hoobler set the scene very well. She's not over descriptive, just the right amount to take you there. Also, since it is a samurai story there was some violence which I skipped when I smelled it coming.
Profile Image for Jessica.
835 reviews
January 16, 2009
This is another one of the Iowa Children's choice Award Nominees. This is probably my favorite of the four I've read so far. It is a mystery that takes place in Japan. i enjoyed all the Japanese History. I want to read the other three books by these authors.
Profile Image for Christina Farley.
Author 10 books468 followers
April 24, 2010
At first I struggled getting into the story because I really didn't like Seikei (MC), but I did love the mystery of the story and how the Hooblers wove in Japanese myths. And it brought back fond memories of my time in Kyoto.
Profile Image for Jenny.
905 reviews7 followers
August 15, 2011
Seikei is sent by the shogun to persuade the 14 year old Emperor to return to his duties from a monastary. Alone, Seikei must struggle with court intrigue, an uprising, and a plot to overthrow the shogun. Seikei assists the Emperor's grandfather in stealing a sword to preserve the Emperor's life.
Profile Image for Bryan Newberry.
7 reviews3 followers
November 29, 2007
Seikei, 14, has a mission from the shogun and must get the emperor to return to his duties. Awesome book! My review is boring but the book is not!

I has a Bucket!
Profile Image for Faith.
25 reviews
April 2, 2008
The last of the books about the young Seikei's mysterious adventures.
Profile Image for Jess.
788 reviews12 followers
November 30, 2008
Fourth in a mystery series set in 1700's Japan, good mystery and also good info about Japan.
Profile Image for Bcoghill Coghill.
1,004 reviews17 followers
December 26, 2008
I do like these books and enjoy the story arc of the series.
It is a good series for preteen boys.
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