In the Service of Samurai is the story of Toshi, who is dragged from his home and into the world of the undead. He is forced to assist his captors with his many skills or be condemned to become one of them. There are those, however, who may make Toshi one of the actual dead before he does what only he can do to help. Toshi’s travails include sleep deprivation, torture, starvation, forced marches and constant threats of death once they get what they want from him.
There is, of course, a love interest, Himiko, who goes through many ups and downs with Toshi as well. She winds up being the daughter of the man that Toshi must eventually meet at the end of his quest. In addition, he turns out to be a fatherly type in more ways than one. The whole quest boils down to a contest that Himiko’s father wins. Toshi survives his trials, and he and Himiko face the future together.
Gloria Oliver's descriptions of the underworld are very harrowing and could give sensitive readers nightmares. Some of the dialogue is occasionally stilted, and the character descriptions could have been fleshed out a bit more. The plot hiccups a bit here and there; nevertheless, the settings are described with great deftness, and the general storyline is entertaining.
In the Service of Samurai is a hard book to classify in part because it does not fall easily into any specific genre. Let us get to the point. Would I buy this book? No.