This collection of eight stories evokes life in early seventeenth-century Japan, a time when peace finally reigns after centuries of civil war. Tokugawa Ieyasu has defeated his rivals to become shogun, and is busily establishing the regime that ruled the country for the next two and a half centuries. It is a period of political upheaval full of intrigue, rivalry, and betrayals. The samurai are still valued for their swordsmanship, and are a cut above the peasants, artisans, and merchants in the social hierarchy. Without battles to fight, however, these career warriors struggle to retain their sense of pride and meaning in life as they attempt to settle into mundane jobs and family life. Occasional flashes of the sword are tempered by the sympathies, conspiracies, kindnesses, and enmities arising between people from across the social spectrum. Fujisawa brings a distant culture richly to life, with characters that modern audiences the world over can relate to presented against a detailed, realistic historical backdrop.