16 (as of 1615)
Blond, azure blue eyes, tall for his age
Jack Fletcher is an English boy and the main protagonist of the Young Samurai series. He is the son of John Fletcher, a navigator, and later Masamoto Takeshi's foster son as well as Masamoto Yamato's adoptive brother for the rest of the series. Jack was born in England in 1599. His younger sister, Jess, would be born three years later. At some point, Jack's mother died of pneumonia, and John was left to care for Jack and Jess.
The Way of the Warrior (1611)
In the beginning of The Way of the Warrior, Jack was a young sailor of 12 years, who worked as a rigging monkey on board the Alexandria, a ship that his father, John Fletcher, was piloting to their intended destination of Nagasaki, a trading city. They encounter a storm that damages their ship and, in an effort to save themselves from sinking, the crew are shipwrecked on the coast near a seemingly abandoned temple.
The Alexandria is attacked by Ninja pirates (Wakou) and Jack's father is killed by a mysterious ninja with a single green eye who is revealed to be the evil assassin Dragon Eye. None of the crew apart from Jack are left alive.
Jack is found unconscious by an esteemed Samurai warrior called Masamoto Takeshi, who takes him into his sister's house and mends Jack's arm which broke when the Alexandria exploded. Later, Masamoto adopts Jack to Yamato's (Masamoto's biological son) displeasure. Masamoto returns the rutter to Jack; the rutter is a navigational logbook that belonged to his father that allowed any pilot to navigate the seas. Jack takes it back and, knowing the importance of the book, untruthfully tells Masamoto that it was his father's diary.
Jack is taught Japanese by a Portuguese Jesuit priest, Father Lucius, who takes a strong disliking to Jack at first, due to the fact that he is a Protestant. Father Lucius later dies due to illness and Jack continues learning Japanese and etiquette from Akiko, Masamoto's niece. Jack begins to learn how to fight with a bokken, under Yamato's training regime. Yamato and Jack quickly develop a strong rivalry, as they fight each other daily with the wooden swords.
Jack is then taken to the samurai school Niten Ichi Ryū in Kyoto, which belongs to his guardian Masamoto, after displaying bushido for the first time by helping to fend off a ninja attack led by Dragon Eye, saving Yamato in the process.
Jack is then introduced to the Niten Ichi Ryū's facilities, the first being the Butokuden - "Hall of Virtues of War." Afterwards, he is summoned along with the new students to the Cho-no-ma, "Hall of Butterflies," and introduced to the various sensei. Dinner would mark his first encounter with Oda Kazuki, an aggressive boy with a shaved head, who quickly takes a strong dislike towards Jack, partly for being foreign and for pointing at him. After the meal, Kazuki gathers his gang to punish Jack for his disrespect towards him, but runs after his friend Nobu senses a sensei's arrival.
As Jack lies on the floor in pain, Sensei Yamada gives him some advice—"In order to be walked on, you have to be lying down,"—which he couldn't understand. He would later learn from fellow student Yori that Sensei Yamada was telling him to learn how to defend himself.
The next day, Jack would take his first lesson in kenjutsu, and succeed in defeating his own sword, beating out Kazuki in an endurance contest which involved holding out their bokkens for as long as they could. Sensei Yamada's class would be next, teaching him about Zen. and meditation. It was at this time Jack got his Daruma Doll. Taijutsu classes proved to be Jack's most painful experience for the moment, as Sensei Kyuzo used him as his uke (training partner) for him to demonstrate his techniques on for the benefit of the class.
He would be taught the basics of archery by Sensei Yosa, but thanks to Kazuki throwing a stone at him, he messes up his aim. Sensei Yosa was about to punish him when Yori reveals that it was Kazuki's fault, and the latter is punished. After dinner that same day, Jack is worried, as Yori is missing. Jack and Akiko stumble upon Kazuki's gang beating Yori, and Jack tackles Kazuki to the ground, managing to punch him in the nose, but is no match for his skills.
Yamato runs in along with Saburo, but is unwilling to help Jack upon Kazuki's goading that helping a gaijin (foreigner) is disgraceful. Akiko then frees Jack from Kazuki's torture, who later promises her that he would not fight him within the walls of the Niten Ichi Ryū. As he leaves, he vows to Jack that their feud isn't over and done with.
Later, during the hanami party, Kazuki's gang takes the chance to fight Jack, but he is defended by Akiko and Saburo. During the heat of battle, Masamoto, who had been observing his students, stops them, as daimyo Kamakura also arrives on the scene. He proposes a Taryu-Jiai between his Yagyu Ryū and the Niten Ichi Ryū to settle the dispute. Masamoto accepts and sets the date as a day before the Gion Matsuri. Jack, Akiko, and Saburo would be fielded as the participants.
The trio would then undergo intense training, and Sensei Yamada would be the first to prepare their minds for the upcoming battle. During the meditation, he asks Jack to tell him his fears, to which he answers death. Yamada tells him that there is no need to, for death is more universal than life. Everyone dies, but not everyone lives, telling him to let them go.
Jack doesn't understand, to which Sensei Yamada replies that death is not the biggest fear he should have. Instead, it is taking the risk to be truly alive, and how he lives, even in death. He then concludes his lessons by telling the trio to conquer their inner fears.
He then later queries Sensei Yamada about his dream of the red demon attacking the butterfly, to which the Sensei answers that cho-geri, the butterfly kick, could be the key to it. He then goes on to explain the technique of cho-geri, and that it is rumored to be invincible. He then demonstrates it on Jack, who is shocked that, despite his age, Sensei Yamada is still nimble. Saburo would tell him that Sensei Yamada was actually a sohei, or warrior monk, explaining his abilities. As they leave the Buddha Hall together, Kiku runs up and informs them that Yamato has fled from the school.
FInally, it was time for the Taryu-Jiai. He is shocked upon seeing Yamato as the final candidate of the Yagyu Ryū, and demands why. Akiko presumes that Yamato had lost too much face after the hanami incident, and couldn't deal with the shame, he wants his father to lose face, as well. Sensei Yosa interrupts them and tells them to concentrate on the competition at hand and not to be distracted.
In the taijutsu segment, Jack would face up against Raiden. He would struggle against the hulking boy at first, before realizing that the fight was a re-enactment of his vision. His mind cleared of doubt, he tires Raiden out and executes a perfect cho-geri on him, winning the match.
After Saburo falls to Yamato in the kenjutsu segment, Jack faces him again in a one on one duel like the past. They both draw, and the Ritual of the Jade Sword is invoked to decide the ultimate victor.
The two would race to the Sound of Feathers waterfall, but Yamato would be there first. Used to the slippery cliff from his time as a rigging monkey, Jack had no trouble ascending. He witnesses Yamato stuck due his fear of heights. He tries to help, but Yamato refuses. Carrying on, Jack retrieves the sword. On his way down, he offers his help to Yamato again, but this time, Yamato accuses Jack of stealing his father from him, believing that before he arrived, Masamoto was finally beginning to accept him, and he was no longer in Tenno's shadow. He also states he has lost face because Jack saved him from the ninja.
Frustrated by his pride, Jack says that if he had wanted to steal Masamoto all along, he could have let Yamato die. What he wanted was his father, John, but he is dead. Not listening to Jack, Yamato jumped from the cliff.
The Way of the Sword (1612)
Jack decides to participate in the Circle of Three so he can learn to Two Heavens sword technique, but due to the fact he doesn't know how to write his name in kanji, he believes he will unable to join the trails for a place in the Circle of Three. Akiko gets her friend Kiku to sign Jack's name on the entry sheet, so he gets a place, much to Sensei Kyuzo's annoyance.
As a reward for saving daimyo Takatomi's life, Jack, along with Yamato and Akiko, have been invited to his residence, Nijo Castle, for Cha-no-yu. The daimyo then has a game of "Escape" with the young samurai to test his new security measures. Jack would evade the guards for the longest period of time by hiding in a bolt hole behind a wall hanging of a crane, but would keep his knowledge of the hiding place a secret. Upon hearing the daimyo claim that the castle is "ninja proof", he makes up his mind to hide the rutter there, unaware of the grave consequences it will lead to.
In the selection trials, Jack almost gets through the Trial by Wood, but is affected by Sensei Kyuzo's remarks, and fails to break the final piece of wood. In the Trial by Fire, he strikes the target dead center with his final arrow, but fails to snuff out the candle. In the trial by koan, Jack fails to answer the question set by Sensei Yamada.
In the Gauntlet, Jack manages to fight his way past everyone in his way, going farther than anyone else, only to be caught unawares by Sensei Hosokawa, who was actually the final opponent.
Despite this, however, Jack was still chosen to be one of the participants in the Circle of Three, alongside Yori, Akiko, Kazuki, and Tadashi, and Harumi. In the Body Trial, Jack finds Yori wounded from a wild boar attack. They try to find the return route, but are shocked that the lanterns acting as guides have been extinguished, and Jack suspects that Kazuki was responsible. Risking the propect of failure, yet unwilling to leave his friend behind, Jack persevered and carried Yori all the way back, and managed to touch the Buddha just as the monks completed their chant.
In the Mind Trial, Jack fights off the blistering cold of the waterfall to last through the time it takes one joss stick to burn, but has to quit when Tadashi bumps into him, disrupting his concentration. After he is brought out by Yamato, he is surprised to see that Akiko had survived triple the required duration. Upon asking her why, Akiko simply smiled at him.
Sometime after this, Kazuki sends Jack a note, challenging him to a duel, first blood wins. Akiko, Yamato and Saburo accompany him, as the Scorpion Gang advances upon them. However, Kazuki waves them off, saying that it is a duel of honor between him and the gaijin. The fight then begins.
Kazuki soon gains the upper hand despite Jack's improved skills at taijutsu. He tries to strangle and drown Jack in a puddle of water, but Jack fakes his death, and counterattacks. He forces Kazuki to submit and admit that he cheated during the Body trial, but Akiko disputes this fact, and Jack lets go of his rival. Just then, Nobu spots a ninja, and everyone splits.
Unfortunately, Jack would be subdued by Dragon Eye, who incapitates him with Dim Mak, and forces him to reveal the rutter's location and it's true purpose. Just as he performs a Dim Mak technique on him, Sensei Kano arrives on the scene and fends off Dragon Eye long enough for reinforcements to arrive, though he is injured in the fight as well. He then cures Jack of his condition by releasing his ki.
Despite his ordeal and suffering from Dim Mak's after effects, Jack continues in the Trial of Spirit. He consumes tea which had been "spiked," and is forced to confront his innermost fears—for Jack, it was a giant black scorpion—representing the fear Jack had of Kazuki and his gang. Initially believing the illusion to be real, Jack was helpless, but upon recalling Sensei's Kano's lessons, he clears his head and fights back with his inner spirit—a fierce lion. He had passed the final trial.
After the conclusion of the test, Yamato hatches a plan to move the rutter from its hiding spot at Nijo Castle during the Circle of Three celebrations, hiding it somewhere where Dragon Eye can't get it, but Akiko objects to his plan. They then decide to tell Masamoto about the rutter. When Jack does so, however, Masamoto shows him a challenge declaration, stating that Jack had agreed to a duel with a samurai on his musha shugyo. Jack denies it, saying that he did not enter any duel, but Sensei Hosokawa points to his name in kanji etched on the paper.
Masamoto then decides that Jack will have to honour the school and prove himself a warrior of the Niten Ichi Ryū.
At sundown the same day, Jack bests his opponent, by using a combination of mushin and faking cowardice to draw the samurai in and expose himself to a counterattack. Masamoto commends Jack, saying that he had been fooled by his strategy, while Sensei Hosokawa grins and tells Jack he has truly understood what the Way of The Sword meant.
During the Circle of Three celebrations, the trio sneak out to the reception room of the castle. Akiko finds the rutter, and they make to leave, when they hear the Nightingale Floor sing, and instantly tense themselves. A woman in a jade green kimono opens the shoji and serves them tea. Just then, Emi enters, annoyed at not having been invited to their private gathering, but looks at the woman and questions her identity, who immediately throws the tea tray at Emi, knocking her out.
Akiko screams that the woman is a kunoichi, and Yamato knocks the teacup out of Jack's hands, revealing the tea to be poisoned. The ninja tries to attack Jack, but Yamato throws himself in her way and is caught on the temple by her tessen. Akiko then kicks the fan from her grip and the two duel. Jack takes an advantage to attack, but is blinded by a powder of sorts.
Blinded, Jack soon senses he is under attack and retaliates in time surprising his assaliant, who is Dragon Eye and knocks Jack to the ground and says he has what he had come for, the rutter. He then calls for the kunoichi, Sasori, to finish Akiko off. He then escapes.
Sasori manages to sink her poisoned pin into Akiko's neck. Believing her to be dead, Jack unleashes his fury and grief on her, landing blow after blow as she struggles to defend herself. The ninja then falls on her own posioned hairpin and dies.
Sinking to his knees, Jack cradles Akiko's lifeless body, and cries bitterly.
After the incident, Masamoto tears into Jack, repirmanding him for sacrificing his friends, violating his trust, and endangered the daimyo's life, all for the sake of the rutter, and that he has broken the code of bushido.
Frustrated at his stupidity and failure, Jack curses himself for letting his father, sister and friends down. Sensei Yamada then appears to comfort him, saying all is not lost. He believes that Jack has not broken the code of bushido, despite his actions which he also disapproved of, being aware that his intentions were not done out of malice, and was trying to protect his guardian, Masamoto, by doing so.
Sensei Yamada then continues, saying that Jack is headstrong and his personality reminded Masamoto of himself when he was young, boasting a fiercely independent spirit. He sees himself in Jack, and he is afraid, not angry, that he will lose another son to Dragon Eye. Hence his strong reaction.
He concludes by giving Jack another life lesson—"There is no failure except in no longer trying", and allows Jack to see Akiko, who has survived, in the Butsuden.
The two converse in private. Jack apologizes for his actions but Akiko believes that it is not his fault—rather, it was Dragon Eye's in letting him live. She says that he needs to get back the rutter, and to follow the Way of The Dragon.
The Way of the Dragon (1613)
Having been expelled from the Niten Ichi Ryū along with Yamato and Akiko for their actions, the trio is sent back to Hiroko's house to await the sensei's final decisions on the matter.
Masamoto pardons them and they are accepted back into Niten Ichi Ryū. Jack, Akiko and Kazuki are trained by Masamoto in the legendary Two Heavens technique which proves very difficult to master.
Civil war ensues in the latter half of the book in which Jack and all the other Niten Ichi Ryū students fight. During the fighting, Dragon Eye appears looking to kill Jack and obtain the rutter but Yamato sacrifices himself to kill him, causing Jack much grief and sorrow. Eventually Daimyo Kamakura emerges as the victor from the war and as the Shogun. He declares foreigners and Christians to be outlaws, forcing Jack to travel to Nagasaki and somehow find a boat to England. After a brief but tearful farewell between him and Akiko, Jack sets off on his way.
The Ring of Earth (1614)
Leaving Toba behind, Jack was once again alone as he resumed his solitary journey back home. After repelling samurai at a teahouse at Shono, he flees into the Iga Mountains, where he falls into a trap laid by Hanzo, a young boy from a village deep in the mountains, and is eventually rescued by his grandfather, Grandmaster Soke.
Soke then brings Jack to their village, but blindfolds him as custom dictates no outsider is to know the village's true location. Later on Jack finds out that the village is a ninja village. He tries to flee but Soke persuades him to stay and Jack ends up learning the way of the Ninja.
The Ring of Water (1614)
Sometime after leaving Miyuki and her ninja clan, Jack would make his way to a inn, stopping to rest. It would mark his first, though not official, encounter with Ronin, and introduces himself as "Takeshi." He offers Jack sake, but Jack refuses and is served sencha by him instead. Ronin then plays around with Jack's flute before asking him to drink the tea, and they toast each other. Not willing to arouse suspicions, Jack made to leave, but Ronin follows him, claiming he knows of a shortcut through the place. Jack then starts to feel drowsy, and Ronin puts his unconscious body beside a tree.
Botan and his gang would descend on him quickly, going through his possessions and finding out his foreign identity, which shocks even Ronin. Manzo then tries to kill Jack with Jack's Shizu blades, but Ronin intervenes, saying that this was not part of the "plan," and he cannot have them murder an innocent boy. But he collapses, his sake having been drugged by Botan as well. Botan then drops Jack's rutter on Ronin, and gives the command to finish off Jack.
His survival instincts kicking in, Jack tries to fight back in his drugged state, but is subject to a heavy round of beating. In a last ditch attempt, he breaks Botan's nose and rips off his inro before falling off the gorge.
Jack would eventually be discovered by the owner of another inn in Kamo, near the main town of Kizu, and rescued. He wakes with no memory of how he had gotten his wounds. The innkeeper's daughter then offers him food, which he gratefully accepts and asks her about how he came to be in their inn, his current location among other things. The girl then tells him he was lucky to have survived, to which Jack asks himself "For how long?"
The doshin would descend on the inn and arrest Jack on the charges of fighting against the Shogun in the Battle of Osaka, but Ronin, who was coincidentally at the inn at the same time, fights them all off using a odd style (this would be revealed later as Drunken Fist), and beckons Jack to follow him before reinforcements arrive. Before he leaves, however, the girl hands him "his" (actually Botan's) inro, and he thanks her.
The Ring of Fire (1615)
Leaving Ronin behind, Jack continues his journey through the winter season. To lure Kazuki towards him and not Akiko, he purposely leaves a trail for him and his forces to follow. He makes his way to the blistery mountains where he almost faints from the sheer cold. Spotting the lights of a village, he quickly makes haste and takes in his new surroundings.
Afterwards, he spots three men ejected out of a nearby inn. They spot Jack, but don't see his face owing to his straw hat. Glancing at the swords on his hip, one of the group asks him if he was a ronin, and that if he wanted a job.
They offer him some food, Jack eagerly accepts it and listens as they tell him what job they have to offer.
The Ring of Wind (1615)
After leaving Tamagashi Village, Jack and his friends were forced to navigate tangled forests and treacherous mountain paths. Along the way, they were spotted and hunted by samurai, though they elude capture and make their way to Tomo Harbour, hiding in a warehouse there.
From their hiding spot, they spy several groups of pilgrims, and Jack asks Yori about the reasons behind their attire. After Yori explains, Miyuki suggests that they disguise themselves as the pilgrims to blend in with the crowd, taking advantage of the fact that they do not refuse o-settai, custom dictating that.
They manage to get the attention of three pilgrims, who were consequently all knocked unconscious by the drugged sake Miyuki had prepared. The group hurriedly change and board a ship, just managing to elude samurai patrols again.
During their voyage, Jack's swords come loose, and are spotted by a seasick ronin. He questions why pilgrims travel with weapons on hand, and Yori answers that they are gifts at the shrine on Omishima Island, but the Ronin points out that their boat isnt heading there, and demands the name of their sword school.
Yori says that they belong to the School of No Sword, to the ronin's disdain. He then offers a demonstration of his skills, to which the ronin gladly accepts. To avoid damage done to the ship, they get the ship's captain to agree to have them have the duel on a nearby island. As soon as they reach there, however, Yori rows away calmly, leaving the man stranded on the island - defeating his opponent with "no sword."
The Ring of Sky (1615)
The Shogun has deemed that any Christian or foreigner now discovered outside the bounds of an official trading port will be instantly put to death.
For Jack, Nagasaki is within reach, but the Shogun's samurai are closing in with the help of Jack's old school rival, Kazuki, who has a score to settle.
Will Jack make it to the city alive? Will he keep hold of the precious rutter? Can he find a ship bound for England, or will he be burned at the stake?
At some point during their voyage to Nagasaki, Jack's boat capsized, and he washed up on a sheltered bay. There was no sign of his companions anywhere nearby. Quickly gathering his belongings, Jack makes his way to a nearby cave after spotting adult sized footprints. Soon after, a old man leads a group of samurai to the beach, telling them he had seen a gaijin samurai.
Personality and Appearance
Jack is a twelve year old in the first book and quite tall for his age, slim and muscular from his time at sea. He has a "strangly mess" of blonde hair and azure blue eyes. He has great determination and drive along with courage and loyalty to his friends. In all the books he displays the Samurai code of Bushido.
- Enhanced Sense of Balance - From his time as a rigging monkey aboard the Alexandria, Jack had aquired an excellent sense of balance and a talent for climbing as well as a good head for heights, these skills have proved very helpful a number of times throughout the series.
- Enhanced Stamina - From his time aboard the Alexandria as a rigging monkey, Jack had built up his body's strength naturally. When he becomes a samurai and a ninja, his stamina would increase even more from the intense lessons he took and he becomes very fit and strong.
- Taijutsu Expert - He is exceptionally skilled in hand-to-hand combat and martial arts. Jack has demonstrated the ability to fight bare handed when the situation arises, for example in the Tayru-Jiai against Raiden. He is possibly the only student in the Niten Ichi Ryū who has learned cho-geri, or butterfly kick. After learning ninja unarmed techniques, like the sixteen secret fists, his taijutsu has evolved to a new level of expertise, even allowing him to knock out taijutsu master Sensei Kyuzo.
- Kenjutsu Expert - He is a naturally talented swordsman, and excells at the Two Heavens technique taught to him by Masamoto.The fact that he is ambidexterous aids his cause even further. The reverse grip technique that he created under Shiryu's guidance, has proved to be a very useful and lethal close-quarters sword technique and he even teaches it to Masamoto. His skills enable him to hold his ground against Red Devils, Sensei, pirates, Ninja and survive a myriad of encounters with Dragon Eye, the only opponent who passes as an equal and, instead, exceeds him in swordsmanship.
- Ninjutsu Practitioner - In his time with the ninja in the Ring of Earth he acquired a number of new talents including stealth walking and a deft hand with Shuriken which also proved useful in later books and helps him to take his samurai skill to entirely new levels.
- Nautical Skills - In the Ring of Wind, Jack's time aboard the Alexandria comes in very useful and helps him to integrate himself among the pirates.
- Languages - Jack's mother taught him basic vocabulary in several european languages and he becomes incredibly fluent in Japanese during his time there.
- Hojojutsu Expert - During the Way of Fire, he was the only one able tie someone, because of practce tying rope as a rigging monkey.
Weapons and Gear
Aside from his father's rutter, Jack is normally seen wearing a standard warrior's kimono as soon as he begins training at the Niten Ichi Ryū, and has a pair of daishō with him. His first pair of daishō was given to him by Masamoto, but they would be lost in the Battle of Osaka. Following that, Akiko would give Jack her father's red handled swords, crafted by Shizu, the legendary swordsmith.
Jack also used to have a black pearl given to him by Akiko when she went pearl diving. It was stolen in the Ring of Water but eventually retrieved from the merchant's wife, thanks to a clever ploy by Ronin. He would lose it permanently in the Ring of Wind, however, when the monkey Saru steals it from him, and his sole connection to Akiko is therefore lost. He also had an inro given by daimyo Takatomi, but loses it to daimyo Sanada in Ring of Water,then gets it back.
Jack had also briefly used Ronin's daishō for the duel against Matagoro Araki. After his victory, he returns the swords to Ronin.
- John Fletcher - Jack's father. Jack feels his death deeply and even when his muderer Dragon Eye is killed, the pain he feels still remains. As his son, Jack feels duty-bound to protect the rutter at all costs.
- Jess Fletcher - She is Jack's younger sister and the reason why he strives to get home. He is the protective older brother with regard to her and hates to think of any harm coming to her. Jack has written a letter to her in the year 1614, as seen at the start of each book in the Five Rings Trilogy.
- Masamoto Yamato - At first both boys are rivals with one another, but gradually, they become friends and soon treat one another as brothers, even if they do have the occasional fight. Jack is very saddened by his death.
- Date Akiko - Jack is fascinated with Akiko and after Father Lucius dies, they both develop a strong friendship which soon deepens into something more, eventually love.
- Masamoto - He is like a second father to Jack and sees some of himself in the English boy. He is angry with Jack for not telling him about the rutter but forgives him.
- Kazuki - His biggest rival in Niten Ichi Ryū, Kazuki despises Jack as he is a 'gaijin' and seeks to kill him.
- Miyuki - Though the ninja girl is at first antagonistic towards him she soon becomes good friends with him, even harbouring romantic feelings for Jack though he doesn't return them.
- Jack Fletcher is based on an actual English samurai from the seventeenth century.
- Jack won his first duel at roughly the same age as Masamoto Takeshi (13 years old). The challenge was not actually issued by him, but by his adversary, Kazuki.
- Despite him wielding a bow and arrow on the cover of The Ring of Fire, Jack himself actually doesn't utilise kyujutsu throughout the book at all. He also has not wielded a bow since the third book.