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Kei Swanson

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The Season of Sanematsu
by Kei Swanson   

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Books by Kei Swanson
· The Seabird of Sanematsu
· Ebony Eyes
· A Drummer's Beat to Mend
· The Words of the Pitcher
                >> View all


Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Zumaya Publications Type: 

Copyright:  April 2008

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Author Kei Swanson

Aderyn Aquilla is finally back where she belongs. At the side of Lord Sanematsu Yoshihide. Now joined with the daimyo of the Satsuma provinces, she faces the obligation of providing an heir. She also finds herself in the position to help her husband govern his domain, an upsetting notion to the male dominated society of Japan.

Sanematsu Yoshihide finds strength and support in the love of his seabird, a woman he now called Ko-tori. But he also fears the danger joining with a barbarian will cause. Still, he forges on with his long-term plans, all based on the product of her womb.

Can Ko-Tori and Sanematsu survive the discord their joining has caused? Will Ko-tori succeed in giving her lover the hair he sought since the age of 15? Can Lord Sanematsu’s strategies bring peace to the Satsuma Provinces and Japan?

Only their love and strength will carry them through THE SEASON OF SANEMATSU.




Kei Swanson 


          In 1480, after a shipwreck on the rocky shoal of Kyushu, Aderyn Aquilla, the fifteen-year-old daughter of a Portuguese sea trader and his Welsh wife, was orphaned in the strange country of Japan. In a culture closed to the ways of other, the Far East was dangerous for a young woman alone. Fate intervenes as Sanematsu Yoshihide rescued her from the sword of his general, Matsumoto Katsura. Naive in the way of men and women as well as the people of Japan, Aderyn had to find a way to survive yet remain true to herself.

          Sanematsu Yoshihide was the twenty-five-year old daimyo, military governor of the province of Satsuma on the island of Kyushu. A warrior since the age of fifteen, he was tired of bloodshed and war although his closest advisor, Matsumoto, sought it. As feudal lord he was held subject to his Council of Elders. Saving the strange young woman from death, he welcomed her into his world, drawn by an elusive emotion in his world. Love.

          The two lovers welcomed the feelings while being held apart physically by the taboos of his world separating them. After a near fatal wound during a victorious battle, Sanematsu made the decision to follow his heart and returned to his province determined to act. His enemies had struck in his absence, kidnapping Aderyn. She suffered severe burns during an accidental fire resulting from the struggle of her abduction and was left with her kidnapper near death.

          Launching into a search for his seabird, Sanematsu instilled the changes to his domain, dissolved the Council, cast his grandfather and older sister out to remote provinces, and continued to plan the life he envisioned. Yet his spirits sagged as his friend and companion remains lost to him.

          Thus begins The Season of Sanematsu………………………………



The Satsuma Province of Kyushu sat in anticipation. The peasants went about their daily tasks; farmers planted crops to nourish the province; the yashiki’s servants continued their courses; samurai prepared for battles; and the government oversaw the politics of Nishikata. Yet, Sanematsu Yoshihide, daimyo of the ryo-chi, addressed only the most pressing matters. He delegated his personal bodyguard, Hikita Takayasu, to the minor tasks of running his domain.

          “My husband,” Sachi broke the calm silence between Hikita and herself. In the samurai’s quarters of Nishikata-jyo, the barbarian’s teacher sat at the side of her husband’s futon. He watched as she combed her lengthy hair, the front of her light kosode gaped open, the robe failing to cover her firm, small breasts. Hikita had tossed away all covering in deference to the heat and humidity of the climate and intensity of their passion.

Once she had recovered her energy from their lovemaking, Sachi had opened the shoji in hopes of a draft. Now she sat combing the lengthy hair, tilting her head askew to reach beneath the layers of black tresses and studied the stars in the clear sky. The bright, yellow moon reached its zenith and would soon begin to set.

          “Yes, Sa?” Hikita reminded her she had addressed him. One hand plucked at her hair, the other tucked underneath his head.

          “Is our master concerned with Ashikaga-sama and matters of Kyoto?” She spoke of civil war the result of the Shogun’s controversial erupted abdication. The derision stirred even more over his named successor and dissolved the governmental gathering of the Bakafu.

          “I do not believe so. He has brought the daimyo of Kyushu under the Sanematsu banner and feels, if he does not cross the water to Honshu at the head of his army, Kyoto’s enemies will not come to Kyushu.” Hikita’s fingers worked at her hair and Sachi’s hip rested next to his in an intimate manner. “It is fortunate the Sanematsu ryo-chi is isolated from the civil war raging over the main island of Nihon.”

          Sachi put the fine-toothed wooden comb away and arranged her kosode more appropriately. “I have not seen Matsumoto-sama in a few days.” The karou, the highest-ranking samurai, Sanematsu general, was not a pleasant man and his presence was not missed. She mentioned his absence to discover what her husband knew without actually asking.

          “Lord Sanematsu granted his request to visit his own ryo-chi,” Hikita told his wife what she wished to know. “He departed after escorting the Council lords to their new residences.” He pulled her garment away to prevent Sachi from covering herself.

          “It was not easy to prepare Lady Haru’s caravan in the short time Sanematsu-sama had ordered.” Pretending not notice her husband’s fingers dancing over her exposed bosom, Sachi continued to talk of dispatching Sanematsu’s sister. “It was even more difficult to persuade her to instruct me in the household. I was forced to demand an exact accounting of Sanematsu-sama’s finances.”

Lord Sanematsu had asked for Sachi’s assistance in running his household after he banished his stepsister from the yashiki. The wife of his samurai, she accepted the position as a matter of course. Sanematsu was also her childhood friend.

          “Very wise, my wife.” Hikita’s hand cupped her breast and his calloused thumb rubbed her taunt nipple.

          “Our master is obsessed with finding Tori-sama.” She truly wished to speak of this situation. Since she had come to be teacher to the barbarian woman, shipwrecked on Kyushu three years before, Sachi had spent almost every minute of every day with her. With Ko-tori, as Sanematsu named her, gone, her condition a mystery, Sachi missed her companion and worried for her. “His maid reports he sleeps little, eats less, and is very short tempered. When he and his aide-de-camp ride out, the household servants see the trips as brief reprieves from our daimyo’s rage.”

          “He rants and raves about insignificant matters,” her husband explained as he brought his hand back to join the other behind his head. “He ordered the execution of a stable hand because he failed to feed his war horse promptly enough.”

          “Oh my.” Sachi pushed Hikita’s hair off his face.

          Hikita rolled onto his side. “The kami have surely possessed him. Uesugi-uji, that young upstart, has taken it upon himself to keep our daimyo from causing irreparable damage to himself or his reputation. He says Sanematsu goes searching with high hopes and talks animatedly of Tori’s return. His light-hearted mood is broken when the captain of the search party reports no success. His rage engulfs him and results in violence. Three captains are dead of seppuku and two by Sanematsu’s own katana.” Hikita’s large eyes held his wife’s gaze. Her stare crept down his torso to take in his rising passion.

          “We can do nothing for him I suppose,” Sachi sighed. Her tiny hand touched the swelling. Experienced fingers caressed him.

          “We could do something for ourselves. That is all we are responsible for.”

          Hikita reached to his wife’s neck and with gentle pressure pulled her to him.


          Sanematsu Yoshihide walked the estate, haunted by Tori’s specter, unable to drive her from his thoughts. She filled his dreams preventing sleep. As he watched the builders repair the North Wing that had been destroyed by fire the day she had been kidnapped, he fantasized her walking out of the ruins, whole, safe, and very much alive. He wandered the beach and envisioned her emergence from the sea. Retracing the steps he had covered with his seabird comforted him. He rode Dai-tan, his battle trained stallion, out the coastal road to the glen Tori had found so pleasant. The hours of the day passed slowly as he rode, and he returned to the yashiki walls as the sun set. The season of spring had come quickly to change the flora of the island and dry the rains of winter. Soon, great waves of humid vapors would rise from the forest.

Remembering they night he first spoke with her, he smiled. They sat, two swords’ lengths apart, in the large room he used for audience. No one sat with them, allowing her to speak with him without revealing her knowledge of their language to someone else. He asked her name and when he repeated it, she began to giggle, hiding her mouth behind her hands as the women of his world, but her laughter full of life. At first, anger had filled him, rising from his embarrassment, then he calmed.

“Why do you laugh like a silly maid?” he had demanded.

“I am sorry, Sanematsu-sama.” Aderyn composed herself. “I know your language does not have a place for certain sounds. My nurse Hana-sama could not pronounce my name, either. The lack of proper sounds makes it…funny.”

“Does your name have a meaning?”

“It is Welsh for bird.”

“Hmmm. Maybe I should call you ‘Ko-tori’ or ‘Tori’. They are our words for bird, and since our women are given names of two syllables, Tori will fit you.”

“As you wish, Sanematsu-sama.”

“Yes, Tori is much better, formally. Personally, I will call you Ko-tori, little bird.”

For the many months she had lived in his province, they shared hours of conversation. He could speak honestly with her, open and free. In addition, over the time, he had come to regard her as more than a prisoner. He had fallen in love with her, the emotion rare in his culture. Entering his quarters within his yashiki, his heart was heavy. In his silent room, Sanematsu removed his clothes and lay on the futon he unrolled himself. He lay in the warm night. Nets draped his bedding to keep the night insects plentiful to the season away. A book of poetry illuminated by a single candle failed to hold his interest as the night’s sounds echoed in his ears. The sounds of his warriors in the courtyard rose up to the open panels as they entered the barracks to find their own futons. He wished them a good night’s rest. For him to try to sleep was useless as it eluded him every night. If at all, it came in brief naps when his over-weary body took overruled his troubled mind.

          Morning found Sanematsu standing at his open shoji facing eastward to the sun peeking above the horizon. The early day’s breeze cooled his bare skin. The days of the hot and humid season would soon be intolerable. From the upper story vantage point, he saw the barley fields planted up the mountain’s slopes. His stray hair stirred and tickled his shoulders as his eyes wandered to the far country. The rays of the new day’s sun silhouetted a rider traveling the road away from the city. Desperate for a way to find Tori, Sanematsu turned away from the outside world. Had he turned his back on the very solution he sought?Type or Paste your work here... Excerpt
“I understand what it is to be Nihonese--to be samurai,” she repeated with difficulty. “I know of giri. My duty is to give you this child. Do you not see? I can deliver it only with your help and in this way. It is my karma! It can not be changed.”

Professional Reviews

Marilyn Rondeau, RIO - Reviewers International Organization
In volume 2 of the Saga of Sanematsu, author Kei Swanson maintains her high standard for incredible historical detail, adventure, and engrossingly dramatic love story between the young vibrant Daimyo (overlord / king) Sanematsu Yoshihide and the lovely young “barbarian” Aderyn (Tori). Amidst the turbulent wars and politics which prohibited even letting a “barbarian” live in Nihon Sanematsu risked treason for the love of his Seabird.

After suffering a near fatal wound, Sanematsu came home with the intention of dissolving his council, banishing his opponents and taking Tori to wife. Arriving home Sanematsu was devastated to discover that Tori had been kidnapped, and severely burned in an accidental fire. He sent out his personal guard on a massive man-hunt to find Tori and bring her home but his general and boyhood arch-rival Matsumoto made sure that she would not be found.

Months later still bound and captive, Tori was malnourished and near death. Expecting her to die a slow death within hours, Matsumoto killed her jailer to erase any suspicion of his involvement. Waking from a drugged stupor; not able to walk Tori was determined to not die in the filth she’d been left in, and managed to crawl to the nearest water source where a monk found her.

*** With a grim beginning, the second volume in the Sanematsu Saga began. By way of a succinct prologue and some excellent references throughout this volume the reader is well able to assimilate the facts in order to read this book completely as a stand-alone. While this is true, I would HIGHLY recommend to any reader interested in immensely entertaining feudal Japanese historical they would be better served to read both in order to fully absorb themselves of the exciting adventuresome intensity, passion, and exemplary lyrical voice of this author.

Both Sanematsu and Aderyn (Tori) were marvelous creations by this author. Tori, a fifteen- year old girl had seen her entire family slaughtered by her captors. Inspired by her courage and forthright manner, the author made a believable plot in having the daimyo Sanematsu spare her life thinking he wanted knowledge of her world. Once Tori was cleaned up (Westerners were by no means taught regular bathing procedures) and brought to Sanematsu he was fully intrigued by her intelligence and knowledge of the world outside of Nihon. After a while they became fast friends and soon fell in love while each try to hide their true feelings from one another. Their love – a treasonous act- could threaten both their lives.

Filled with emotion, briskly paced adventure, poignant moments and written with fully develop characters Ms. Swanson writes an intellectually stimulating and historical with a truly inspired romance. The historical research and accuracy makes this saga one to remember, long after the last page is turned.

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Reader Reviews for "The Season of Sanematsu"

Reviewed by John Domino 9/20/2008

Great Writing!

I lived in Japan three years. The memory is still in my heart.


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