The Sword That Saves

Aikido made me reach for the hoover. There was something in Ambrose Merrell’s The Sword That Saves – which is almost entirely about aikido – about how the very first small step is part of the whole thing. I think this was along the lines that having come to the class, you had already started. It was this I borrowed for my cleaning session, where procrastination was winning.

Ambrose Merrell, The Sword That Saves

The book is full of these thoughts; how you can be good by learning aikido, and learning to be like the old Japanese martial arts teachers. To be truthful, I am really not interested in martial arts or anything Japanese, but nevertheless gave this book a go. It’s about orphaned siblings Sam and Zoe and Sophie, recently transplanted English children in Vancouver, where after their parents’ deaths they are fostered separately. They desperately want to be together again.

Sam happens to stumble across an old Japanese man, Kensho, who takes an interest in the boy and teaches him aikido. Kensho’s own teacher Hiroshi is 113 years old, and lives in 16th century Japan, necessitating time travel. Soon enough Sam time travels as well, as do his sisters, forced by circumstances.

I didn’t entirely grasp what Sam’s task is, or will be, except to fight the Darkness, with the help of Kensho and Hiroshi, and also the girls’ abilities regarding visions and an affinity with animals.

Ambrose is obviously incredibly enthusiastic about aikido and all that belongs to this way of life, and I agree that much about the rules appeals; the physical fitness and the mental strength, and learning to be fair and kind.

But, I did find the three siblings unbearably good, and even for someone like me who wants to avoid problems, there wasn’t enough conflict (apart from this unknown Darkness). And some more editing wouldn’t have come amiss.

That said, it was fascinating, and I can see that if it sells aikido to young people, this in itself is a good thing. I’m thinking there will be more books about Sam and his sisters, because matters are not yet resolved.

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