The aristocrat Ofuku will do anything to ensure that her godson Takechiyo will become the next Shogun, and that means ensuring victory for the Iga. The Kouga still have no idea that the victory of the Iga versus Kouga battle will dictate the next Shogun, Gennosuke, Saemon and Kageru set out to find why the truce was dissolved.
In this volume we finally get to see the first meeting between Gennosuke and Oboro via a flashback. Whilst the scene is brief it succeeds in emphasizing their relationship and highlighting the tragic situation in which they are immersed. The situation soon turns nasty as Gennosuke is jolted out of his reflection of the past by the present, in which events are getting increasingly nasty.
The political battles heat up as the noblewoman Ofuku takes direct action in order to get a favourable outcome for her godson and thus herself. Ofuku is quite as ruthless as the worst of the ninja in this series, manipulating other peopleís lives for her own advancement without any thought of the consequences. Struggles also abound within the ninja clans as Tenzen plots to seize control of Oboro and the rest of the Iga clan, whilst Gennosuke has to constantly reassure the Kouga that trying to end the war peacefully really is the best course of action for his clan. The difference between Gennosuke and Tenzen is striking, whilst Gennosuke uses reason to get what he wants, Tenzen is merciless in the way he uses others even threatening Oboro with violence. In this volume Tenzenís special ability is finally shown, and is one of the best drawn segments of the volume as well as being one of the most unsettling.
Being the penultimate volume of the series the pace takes a step up making it a more satisfying read than previous volumes. In places it can sometimes be hard to keep track of all the characters, and it's a shame that itís taken four volumes for things to come together. The best volume of the manga so far.