Japan in the late sixteenth century was a land in turmoil. Lords of the great clans constantly jockeyed for position, generating countless tales of scheming and intrigue. Bound by a rigid code of honor, the aristocratic samurai were left to execute their lords' designs whatever the cost. Death defined these warriors' very existence; they could be commanded to die by their lord at any time to prove loyalty and stregth of spirit. A dishonorable end would bring shame upon an entire family--for generations to come. - from cover p.