A few years back, I was doing weapon research (yay) for my book The Blood of Heroes when I stumbled upon a truly fascinating character: Tomoe Gozen. She is regarded as one of the few samurai warrior women, wielding bow, sword and a sword-spear hybrid called a naginata.
Ahh, those Feudal Japanese!
What little is known about her whetted my easily warrior-whetted appetite, and when that happens, I start writing.
I completed a first draft of the story, but became distracted (probably by a squirrel) and never went back.
Well, good news everyone! While waiting on the edits from Tears of Heaven, I’ve gone back to Tomoe Gozen’s historic fiction story The Second Cut.
I’ve always liked that title. It references the infinitely harder version of seppuku (ritual suidide) called jumonji giri. Where traditional seppuku involves the single slash across the stomach, jumonji giri, which translates as “cross-shaped cut” calls for a second, vertical cut. Also, where seppuku allows for a sword-wielding second to cut the head from the samurai and end his suffering, jumonji giri has no such headsman. The samurai is expected to bear the intense pain quietly and stoically, until loss of blood caused death.
Thus, performing the second cut is an order of magnitude or three harder than your run-of-the-mill seppuku. In my book, Tomoe Gozen is given a task that could be likened to the second cut of jumonji giri. But as a duty and honor-bound samurai, she will do whatever it takes to complete the task.