John Adam – Samurai (1971) is set in the year 1600 and stars John Adam, a 20-year old guy running from the law in Plymouth, England. Like a lot of these international, historical-adventure novels, Adam ends up on a ship under the flag of the East India Company. After stops in India and Java, Adam and his shipmates are overtaken by pirates and is sunk just off the coast of Japan. Adam is the only survivor.
After a few chapters that serve as an introduction to this era of Japan, Adam befriends a Samurai warrior named Kushoni. Adam learns that his ship, which was carrying muskets, was attacked by pirates that were hired by Kushoni's master. These muskets were going to be used to defend Kushoni's people from an aggressively barbaric neighboring clan. But, the pirates double-crossed Kushoni's people and now what's left of the muskets are now in the hands of the evil neighbors. You following all of this? It's really simple – Kushoni and Adam are good guys and represent good people. Everyone else can go to Hell.
The rest of the book plays out with Kushoni showing Adam a thing or two about swords. Adam also screws a lot of Japanese bath servants in graphic sex scenes while simultaneously falling in love, sort of, with a Japanese woman named Somi. But, there's a ton of action as Kushoni beheads, pierces, spears, disembowels, and savagely guts endless hordes of bad guys. There are also some torture sequences that were a little hard to...um...digest.
Overall, this book was just bonkers, but not in a bad way. I would probably never read it again, but would consider reading the book's sequel, John Adam in Eden. It's just that Wood is such a quirky writer with some of the oddest descriptions considering this really should be a sweeping, historical novel with a little class. Instead, you have things like “quieter than a church fart” and endless religious orgies. It was just so bizarre, but like a good car wreck, I couldn't wrestle my eyes off the pages. Your mileage may vary, but this isn't a terrible way to waste a half-day.