Eternal Samurai by B. D. Heywood
In twelfth century Japan, Saito Arisada is a warrior monk in the temple of Mii-dera. The temple is caught up in the struggle between two powerful factions vying for the imperial throne. An overwhelming force is sent to attack the temple, which falls to the invaders with the help of Arisada’s lover, who betrays him and the temple. The handful of warriors, including Arisada, that survive the initial attack realize all is lost and commit the ritual suicide of the samurai. Arisada is the last to go, after assisting his comrades. As he feels death about to take him, the opposing army breaks through the last of the defenses. Among them is a sadistic vampire who, caught by Arisada’s beauty, turns the samurai into a vampire, and his slave.
Fast forward 800 years, to the near future. The virus which turns humans into vampires mutates to become more readily transmitted, and sweeps the planet like a plague, wiping out large populations and leaving some big cities near ruin. In a post-apocalyptic Seattle, Tatsu Cobb searches out the vampire that killed most of his family. Tatsu was born in Japan of a Japanese mother and American father. He has the sleek smooth body of a Japanese man, but striking green eyes from his father. He has been trained in the ways of the samurai by his grandfather, who was the only other member of his family to survive the attack. Tatsu crosses paths, and swords, with Arisada, who is still a slave to his maker, now the ruthless power-mad leader of the large groups of vampires in the city. There’s an instant attraction between both men, as Arisada recognizes in Tatsu the soul of his former lover, and betrayer. He has waited an eternity to take his vengeance, just as Tatsu has sworn to kill any vampire who crosses his path.
“Eternal Samurai” is a real roller-coaster of a story, weaving between romance and tragedy, and it’s not until the very end that you find out which it is. I won’t spoil it by telling you. There’s a lot going on here: Vampires, samurai warriors, plagues, volcanic eruptions and Native American mysticism to name a few, but the author manages, for the most part, to weave it into a fairly believable story that has its own unique characteristics. While Tatsu and Airsada are at the center of the tale, there are a number of other characters, each with their own story. Even the villain, Arisada’s master, is more than a cardboard cutout. We get his back-story, showing the roots of his madness.
There is a bit of kink to the sex in this book, although it’s more suggested than described, which is why I haven’t tagged this as a BDSM book. And, while there are a lot of sexually charged moments in the story, this is not really a work of erotica either. The overwhelming feeling is one of tragedy, although how it ends is something I’ll leave for you to discover. Both main characters have experienced more pain and loss than they should.
On the whole, the writing is rather good. It slips into melodrama occasionally, especially near the end, but it doesn’t wallow there for long. The editing and proofing leaves a lot to be desired. The proofing in particular is very uneven. The text goes for several pages without any errors, and then you’ll run into several paragraphs full of incorrect words and un-closed quote marks. It’s amazing how irritating unbalanced quotes can be. With tighter editing, I believe this could be a much more gripping story. As it is, it just barely makes it to four stars for me, thanks to the roller-coaster plot that kept me guessing.
“Eternal Samurai” is available from Amazon.