The Double Phoenix

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Archive for the ‘Tales of the Otori’ Category

Grass for His Pillow

Posted by spragujs on March 21, 2012

Grass for His Pillow cover artIn Grass for His Pillow, Lian Hearn’s second Tales of the Otori novel:

…We return to the story of Takeo (the young orphan taken up by the Otori Lord and now a closely held member of the Tribe) and his beloved Shirakawa Kaede, heir to the Maruyama, who must find a way to unify the domain she has inherited. In a complex social hierarchy, amid dissembling clans and fractured alliances, there is no place for passionate love. Yet Takeo and Kaede, drawing on their unusual talents and hidden strengths, find ways both to nurture their intense personal bond and to honor the best interests of their people.  (Blurb from

This novel was definitely a bit of a filler novel for me as far as plot goes, however the growth of Takeo and Kaede in particular dominate this novel.  Both go through a bit of finding themselves as well as each other.  The novel definitely sets up the trials these two will face in the next novels.

The readers are the same and have the same wonderful characterizations as well as the same flaw as mentioned previously.

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Across the Nightingale Floor

Posted by spragujs on March 12, 2012

Across the Nightingale Floor cover artAcross the Nightingale Floor, book 1 of the Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn continues my recent trend for reading Japanese set (or authored) fiction.  Or more properly listening to.  (I also recently listened to 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, but wanted to review this one before moving on to the next in the series and getting them mixed in my head.)  Here’s a portion of the blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Takeo’s village has been massacred by an evil warlord, and he is about to be slain by the men who murdered his parents and neighbors. At the last moment, his life is saved by a nobleman, who claims the boy as his kin and begins his education.

But nothing is as it seems. Takeo discovers that he has rare powers that are useful to those around him. As he grows into manhood, he must decide where his loyalties lie: with his noble master and adoptive father; with the Hidden, a secret, spiritual sect whose beliefs are forbidden; or with the Tribe, the assassins and spies who consider him one of their own.

The novel was exciting, giving one a tiny glimpse into what life must have been like in feudal Japan.  The story was full of love won and lost, lives lived and lost, secrets, magic, and war.  I have high hopes for the next book(s), as Takeo (and company)’s story has only just begun!

For the most part I enjoyed the audio version.  The accents and characterizations were wonderful.  However, I found Aiko Nakasone’s reading tough to get used to.  She spoke v e r y  s l o w l y (but clearly!) so that I felt as though I were being read down to, and it could be a little grating at times (particularly the beginning of each of her chapters).  Fortunately, when she read for Shizuka she tended to speed up a little to match the character and often in doing so I at least noticed the slowness less for the rest of the chapter (possibly giving me a bit of unfair fondness for the character, which I think I’d have liked even without this bias)!  😉

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