Kyuden - The Shadow Emperor

Book Review

  • 23-May-15

Author: Jonathan Holburt                                                                                                                 

Publisher: Angsana Books

Singapore 1996

Kyuden – The Shadow Emperor                                                                                             

Reviewed by Floyd Cowan

A sword, a mirror and a jewel, the sacred regalia that gives legitimacy to the rule of the Emperor of Japan. But what if the current Emperor is not the legitimate Emperor? Ryuichi Yugao, a yakuza kingpin, believes that he is the legitimate heir to the throne that his family lost 600 years ago in a civil war. He also believes that if he could get possession of the sacred regalia he could claim the Chrysanthemum Throne. The sacred regalia, which have never been seen in public, are believed to be kept in Kyuden - the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Yugao, even with his Yakuza connections isn’t so foolish to think that he could breach the high-tech security that protects the Emperor.

He believes he knows one man who could do such a job - ex SAS commando Hugh Scott. Scott’s special skills will not only get him in to Kyuden, but out again - with the sacred regalia. Yugao is willing to pay USD10 million, a number that will give Scott the freedom to live life as he wants to, and allow him to give up lecturing at a Tokyo University.

This is the setting for Jonathan Holburt’s first novel, and he has created an action packed page turner. While Kyuden is historically accurate, this is not a historical novel, this is an action/thriller.

The plot moves quickly and Holburt takes his readers through SE Asia to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta as Scott assembles his team, calls in favours and plans how he will not only breach the high-tech security, but outwit those protecting the Emperor.

Personal relationships add to the tension. The characters have sufficient depth to elicit interest in them, but not too much to slow down the action. However, they are more than conduits for the action, they are intertwined, in sometimes surprising ways, and add to the drama that keeps you wondering how this is going to work out. ‘How is this going to work out?’ is the thought that keeps those pages flipping over.

While one could never get lost in the Imperial Palace of Japan, it is easy to get lost in Kyuden.

Jonathan Holburt, (pictured) now based in Singapore, was an advertising business director on multinational accounts at agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, Young & Rubicam, DDB and Bates, which allowed him to travel in Asia. He lived in Japan and during his short time there he got a good feel for the culture.

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