Young Samurai: The Way of the Sword by Chris Bradford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
At the risk of cliche, this is very much a Japanese version of Harry Potter (with a strong overlay of Shogun). I didn't read the first book, but that didn't seem to matter that much. In the second installment, Jack (an English teen stranded in Japan after the boat he and his father were on is run aground; his father is murdered by the ninja Dragon Eye) is in samurai training school, still feeling his way and trying to find out 1. how he can get home to England and his younger sister Jess and 2. how he can safely keep his father's rutter from Dragon Eye.
There's a tournament, the Circle of Three, which is like the Triwizard Tournament (and thus unsuspensful) but with Trials of Mind, Body and Spirit. There are duels and snowball fights, ninjas and a potential love interest, friends and traitors: nothing terribly new or different. Still, Middle School-age boys will enjoy this series because it's not about magic (unless one considers the samurai code of bushido and the training methods "magic").
ARC provided by publisher.
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