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Sugawara Akitada Books In Order

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Publication Order of Sugawara Akitada Books

Rashomon Gate (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Hell Screen (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dragon Scroll (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Black Arrow (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Island of Exiles (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Convict's Sword (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Fires of the Gods (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Masuda Affair (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death on an Autumn River (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Emperor's Woman (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death of a Doll Maker (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Crane Pavilion (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Old Men of Omi (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Shrine Virgin (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Assassin's Daughter (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Island of the Gods (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ikiryo: Vengeance and Justice (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Kindness of Dragons (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Nuns of Nara (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Massacre at Shirakawa (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Lucky Gods of Otsu (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Chronological Order of Sugawara Akitada Books

The Dragon Scroll(2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rashomon Gate(2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Black Arrow(2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Island of Exiles(2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Hell Screen(2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Convict's Sword(2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Masuda Affair(2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Fires of the Gods(2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death on an Autumn River(2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Emperor's Woman(2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death of a Doll Maker(2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Crane Pavilion(2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Old Men of Omi(2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Shrine Virgin(2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Assassin's Daughter(2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Island of the Gods(2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ikiryo: Vengeance and Justice(2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Kindness of Dragons(2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Nuns of Nara(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Massacre at Shirakawa(2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Lucky Gods of Otsu(2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Sugawara Akitada Short Stories/Novellas

The Kamo Horse (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Fox Magic (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Water Sprite (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Curio Dealer's Wife (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Akitada's First Case (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Akitada and the Way of Justice (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Akitada's Holiday (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Three Tales of Love and Murder (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Confessions (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

The name Sugawara Akitada’ refers to a series of historical mystery fiction novels.. The books follow the exploits of an earnest young man from a struggling aristocratic family whose work with the government keeps dragging him into all sorts of mysteries and murders.

+The Story
The Sugawara Akitada novels take place in the Heian period of Japan. This is a section of history that started in 794 and ended around the year 1185; it was also the last segmentation of classical history in Japan, a time during which Buddhism and Taoism thrived.

Sugawara Akitada was fortunate to be born in a family of scholar-officials. He received an orthodox education and he was lucky to secure a position at the university where he specialized in law.

Akitada had a bright future ahead of him. But then his father died and his family fell on hard times shortly before he completed his education. Landing a position as a junior clerk in the civil service did little to improve the hero’s fortunes.

His salary at the time was simply too meager and yet he was expected to support a family that included a hostile mother, two younger sisters, and some staff members. He was also expected to help his female siblings find suitable partners, men from prestigious families whose dowries would lift the clan out of its poor standing.

By the time readers meet the hero in ‘The Dragon Scroll’, the first novel in the series, Akitada is still struggling to secure his future and that of his family. Akitada wants to believe that his fortunes are changing when he is sent to Kazusa.

The remote province has encountered quite a few problems with its tax convoys and Akitada is expected to get to the bottom of the matter. It doesn’t take the young man long to realize that he has been set up to fail.

And yet Akitada is determined to succeed none the less. He has to rely on the assistance of Seimei, the elderly servant who accompanies him wherever he goes, and Tora, a fighter whose skills prove useful in keeping the protagonist safe when the worst comes to pass.

It is worth noting that even though the first novel in the Akitada collection was ‘The Dragon Scroll’ which was published in 2005, the character actually first appeared in 1997 in a short story called ‘Instrument of Murder’

Akitada proceeded to make appearances in numerous other stories in the same magazine before landing his first novel. The author, I.J. Parker, was unfortunate to land a publisher in St. Martin’s Press which, for some reason, decided to publish her Sugawara Akitada series out of chronological order.

When the author changed publishers in 2004, landing a contract with Penguin Group, she talked them into publishing her novels in the right internal chronological order. Parker encourages her fans to consume her novels in the order she intended them to be read because that is more likely to enhance their enjoyment of her stories.

Parker has been commended for the incredible research she has done to bring Akitada’s story to life. There is very little information from the Heian Period detailing the manner in which the commoners lived, the religion they pursued and the traditions and social structures that were rife.

So the author does what she can with the little information available to her. Some readers have criticized I.J. Parker for successfully describing the landscape of the Heian Period but failing to provide a fully immersive experience.

Parker goes to great lengths to explore the minutiae of the Heian period. In fact, some people think she goes a little too far, spending more time on her descriptions that she does on the mysteries at hand.

However, Parker treats the Heian period like the cardboard background of a theatrical play. She never fully washes her characters in the ways and the culture of 11th Century Japan.

Akitada, her hero, is an outcast. He has an inquisitive mind and a strong sense of justice and those qualities drive him to succeed where others might fail. He doesn’t know how to stop pocking and prodding and, more of than not, that gets him into a lot of trouble.

However, Akitada is also very friendly. He breaks a lot of the social norms that bind society in his time Period, frequently questioning authority figures, showing acceptance to strong, rude, obnoxious women who should rationally repel him, and treating his servants with respect and dignity.

Some readers love the fact that Akitada breaks all the rules. Others don’t think him to be all that realistic, not for his time period.

Each installment in this series finds Akitada on assignment in some remote section of Japan were he must confront mysteries, murders, and politics.

+The Author
I.J. Parker was an Associate professor at Norfolk State University, Virginia. She eventually retired to focus on her writing. Born in Germany, she was inspired to write her most popular series of historical fiction novels when she encountered the Judge Dee books (Robert Van Gulik).

+Dragon Scroll
Akitada might come from an aristocratic family that has fallen on hard times but he is determined to accomplish his tasks as a government clerk to the best of his abilities.

Akitada knows that his bosses do not expect him to succeed when they send him to Kazusa, a remote location. He is supposed to help them sort out a tax issue but the local opposition and the politics at play will not make his work easy.

But the young and earnest Akitada is determined to beat the odds.

+Rashomon Gate
Sugawara Akitada comes from an impoverished aristocratic house. His superiors in the government where he works as a clerk do not make his job easy. But he is still quite happy to take a post at the Imperial University.

Akitada was sent to help Professor Hirata, an old friend, investigate a blackmail situation. But then a young girl was murdered and an old man disappeared. Now Akitada’s investigation has been sidetracked.

The emperor has taken an interest in the dealings at the Imperial University. Akitada must tread carefully lest he steps on some powerful toes.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Sugawara Akitada

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