The best Samurai books 📚

Browse the best books on Samurais as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of Flame in the Mist

Flame in the Mist

By Renée Ahdieh

Why this book?

A retelling inspired by the ballad of Hua Mulan, this tale is not a fairy tale in the sense of princesses, but a powerful legend in its own right. Taking place in feudal Japan, the character Mariko immediately weaved her place as my favorite. Always thinking how she can best escape or twist a situation to her advantage, the beginning of the story featured her setting out to find who was trying to kill her, and never stopped from there. Including finding her own found family of outlaws, and able to use her love of experiments in any way she…

From the list:

The best YA fantasy novels that are inspired by a fairy tale

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi

The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi

By William Scott Wilson

Why this book?

Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) has an almost mythic status as Japan’s greatest swordsman. As a teenager, he fought on the losing side at Sekigahara, and went on to become a renowned duelist. The two-sword style he created (nitoryu) is still practiced as part of modern kendo (Japanese sword fighting). It wasn’t just Musashi’s technical mastery that left mouths agape, but also his ability to psych out his opponents. If you’ve never heard of his famous duel against Sasaki Kojiro on Funa Island, you’re in for a treat. Wilson’s short biography captures Musashi in all his enigmatic glory.

From the list:

The best books about pre-modern Japan

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Book of Corrections: Reflections on the National Crisis During the Japanese Invasion of Korea, 1592-1598

The Book of Corrections: Reflections on the National Crisis During the Japanese Invasion of Korea, 1592-1598

By Yu Song-Nyong, Choi Byonghyon

Why this book?

This book is not a page-turner by any means, but what it does have is hidden information through imagination. It is an eyewitness account in Korean, translated into English concerning the 16th-century Japanese Invasion. It is a step-by-step recounting of how one administrator had to flee the Japanese army as they burned their way through his native lands. The hidden joy is knowing that the samurai army is on his heels and you can feel them in the shadow of the book all the way through. It was a joy to read because it allowed me to see how the…

From the list:

The best books on a hidden Japan and the real samurai

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Samurai Invasion: Japan's Korean War 1592 -1598

Samurai Invasion: Japan's Korean War 1592 -1598

By Stephen Turnbull, Peter Dennis

Why this book?

This is a lavishly illustrated popular account by a prolific author of books about the samurai. It is written from the Japanese perspective in a very accessible style. The author tends to be somewhat uncritical about Japanese accounts and the book is not nearly as academic as some others on this list, but he presents a clear narrative that is easy to follow and could serve as a useful introduction for readers before moving on to more academic studies.

From the list:

The best books on the Great East Asian War of 1592-1598

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai

Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai

By Katsu Kokichi, Teruko Craig

Why this book?

There is samurai culture as understood by most people, involving bushido, loyalty, honour, and truth and then there is this book, an autobiography by a real samurai about the honest truth about actually being a samurai. Part criminal, part reluctant warrior, this man’s story is one of passion, hardship, and eventual love for his family. It is one of the greatest windows into actual Japanese life, and again, it is not a best seller and is maybe now out of print. If you want to know what a samurai’s life was like after the wars with nothing to do but…

From the list:

The best books on a hidden Japan and the real samurai

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Across the Nightingale Floor: Tales of the Otori Book One

Across the Nightingale Floor: Tales of the Otori Book One

By Lian Hearn

Why this book?

This book, the first in the rollicking The Tales of the Otori series, has been called “Shogun meets The Lord of the Rings.” The first book centers on a young man with some special abilities who is groomed to become an assassin due to one special talent — the ability to walk silently across a special floor composed of boards that chitter like birds when stepped on, which warlords sleep in the middle of as an alarm system. The series is one of the most gripping, wildly entertaining, and moving fantasies I’ve ever read. It is proof that…

From the list:

The best books for readers seeking unique Asian fantasy

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Or, view all 26 books about Samurais

New book lists about Samurais

All book lists about Samurais

Bookshelves related to Samurais

Browse books by…