Publisher's Note:  

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.

The Sword that Cut the Burning Grass

by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

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Overall Review:  

    The fourteen-year-old emperor is refusing to perform his duties, and without the emperor, people won’t plant their rice, the harvest will be poor, no one will pay their taxes—the effects will be disasterous! The shogun thinks maybe fourteen-year-old Seikei, a samurai, can convince the emperor to resume his duties.
    Seikei thinks convincing the emperor will be hard enough, but he finds he has to solve a number of mysteries along the way: Why doesn’t the boy emperor believe he’s really the emperor? Who’s behind the plot to overthrow the shogun? Who’s stolen the sacred sword? And how will Seikei know if he should trust the mysterious man in the blue kimono?
    The story starts out quite slowly as Seikei receives his assignment, travels to the monastery to see the emperor, and begins trying to solve the mystery of why the emperor won’t perform his duties. The story get more lively around page 50 when some monks are killed at the monastery and the emperor disappears. There’s another quieter section, but at page 99, things heat up further and race along to the climatic sword fight.
Reading Level: 6.1, range 4.5-7.2.
Of interest to boys and girls

This review has been acquired and adapted from

Content Analysis:  

This review was acquired from on May 15, 2014 and was not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist.  Nevertheless, it contains useful content information which is included here.  The overall number ratings have been approximated based on this information.

Mention of monks killed, one body described; threat of torture; hero encouraged to commit seppuku, ritual suicide because he’s disgraces himself—decides not to, but thinks of it several times; mention of samurai who ask a servant to behead them and of others who tried seppuku but "did such a poor job that they lay in agony, waiting to bleed to death"; mention that sacred sword is used to cut off heads of countless enemies; heroine’s master beats her, shows hero bruises, master beat her whenever she cooked something he didn’t like, keeps beating her; heroine screams and twists away from robbers; stranger threatens bandits by starting to withdraw sword, hero wonders if stranger involved in murders at monastery; revolt against shogun planned; hero knows head guard will use torture on him if necessary, when hero taken to him, smells dried blood in the building, taken to a room where smell is stronger and where no one will hear screams; leader of guard threatens to behead imperial minister; samurai club, shove people to clear path, some people trampled; hero expects to be killed for failing to get sword, smells blood again; head of guard likely to kill emperor too; poor man run through with sword, grabs sword with hands, "ribbons of flesh hang from [his] hands" as sword drawn back through his body; stranger comes into room, wiping blood from sword, explains that with sacred sword, he can "defeat any enemies," tells hero to be ready to attack whoever holds the sacred sword at stranger’s signal; fight at gate of evil lord’s palace will be fight to the death; stranger attacks samurai at gate from behind, they fall like "blades of grass"; hero forced at knife point to report to head guard; head shows hero severed head of evil lord; former emperor says he would have killed owner of boat if he hadn’t sold it to them; former emperor cuts off samurai’s hand, kills him with another blow, wounds another samurai on the arm; head guard holds boy emperor at knife point, with boy’s hand tied, heroine also tied up; hero fights with wooden sword against head guard with sacred sword, detailed fight, including making head guard’s nose bleed, heroine tripping head guard; hero pressed against wall, dodging sword, hitting head guard against side of head, description of sound it makes—head guard knocked out; former emperor says he’ll see that head guard can do no more harm, wants cord used to tie up heroine—no other details about what happens to him; boy emperor pushes ministers away from him.

Boy emperor takes ritual bath, mention of priest removing his clothing, afterwards walks naked to hut where he is to spend the night, not graphic, not sexual; someone takes hero’s clothes when he’s sick; heroine lowers back of kimono to show hero bruises, not sexual; hero dressed in clothes of emperor, including underwear, not graphic.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death, suicide, murder

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Two drunk men mentioned; samurai drinks "a few cups of sake"; in legend, dragon drinks barrel of wine and sleeps; master beats heroine when he’s drunk.

Reviewed By CleanTeenReads
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