- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Riverhead Books; Reissue edition (June 3 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1573223328
- ISBN-13: 978-1573223324
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 381 g
- Average Customer Review: 85 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Across the Nightingale Floor: Tales of the Otori Book One Paperback – Jun 3 2003
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"Satisfyingly rich in incident yet admirably spare in the telling...Hearn has created a world I anticipate returning to with pleasure."The New York Times Book Review
"The most compelling novel to have been published this year."The Times (London)
"The most extraordinary novel...The passion and rapture of this story is so compelling that it's almost worth delaying your holiday for."The Independent on Sunday (UK)
"Complex...fast-paced, arousing adventure reminiscent of Arthurian legend that's told with all the urgency of a modern-day thriller."Book Magazine
"Across the Nightingale Floor is as exciting a debut as any in recent yearspart Shogun, part Lord of the Flies and entirely enchanting."Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
About the Author
Lian Hearn is the pseudonym for the writer Gillian Rubinstein, currently living in Australia, who has a lifelong interest in Japan, has lived there, and speaks Japanese. All five books in the Tales of the Otori series—Across the Nightingale Floor, Grass for His Pillow, Brilliance of the Moon, The Harsh Cry of the Heron, and Heaven's Net is Wide—are available now from Riverhead Books. Don't miss the related series, The Tale of Shikanoko.
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`And so between the waterfall and the top of the mountain I lost my name, became someone new, and found my destiny with the Otori.'
Tomasu, renamed Takeo, is taken to Lord Otori Shigeru's home at Hagi, where he begins to manifest some of the supernatural skills of the Tribe: preternatural hearing; the ability to become visible for short periods; and also to split himself into two. Lord Otori Shigeru plans to adopt Takeo, and he is trained accordingly. As Takeo's training progresses, he becomes more aware of various political machinations which happen to accord with his desire to take revenge against Lord Iida Sadamu, the leader of the Tohan. But Lord Iida Sadamu does not want for enemies, and has taken some precautions of his own against assassination. Lord Iida Sadamu has a nightingale floor at his black-walled fortress in Inuyama.
`'What's the purpose of such a floor?' Lord Shigeru asked, seemingly idly.
'He's afraid of assassination. It's one more piece of protection. No one can cross the floor without it starting to chirp.''
I first read this novel just after it was released and then waited, impatiently, for rest of the series to be published. I reread it earlier this year when I had the luxury of reading all five Otori books in sequence. Yes, the trilogy has a prequel before it, and now has a last book as well. I enjoyed the fantasy world created by Ms Hearn, loved the heroes and detested the villains.
In the Three Countries, a young boy named Tomasu discovers that his family has been cruelly slaughtered by Lord Iida; he's only saved by the semi-mysterious Lord of the Otori, Shigeru. Given the name of Takeo, he becomes Otori's ward, and learns that he is a member of the Tribe, a people with mysterious powers and abilities. As he learns his new skills, he learns more of his past.
But Shigeru has problems of his own when he's betrothed to Kaede, a beautiful young girl who is said to bring death to any guy who falls for her. To make things worse, Shigeru is in love with Lady Maruyama, a powerful relative of Kaede's. At the center of the betrothal is more political plotting and devious scheming, that will put Takeo to the test as he tries to kill Iida, who sleeps every night in the Nightingale Floor...
Japanese history and folklore are a much-underused fantasy source, compared to Anglo or Celtic fantasy, which is used in every other fantasy novel you come across. Hearn has definitely done his research, and he seamlessly integrates fantasy elements into a medieval Japanese setting. Concepts such as the Tribe, the complicated political strife and the Nightingale Floor (a floor that squeaks loudly at the slightest touch) are fantastic.
What's wrong with the book? The writing. While Hearn has the basic descriptions down, nothing comes alive. Tense, dramatic, action-filled scenes are flat and rather slow; one scene has Takeo creeping along to some dying condemned men, but there's no sense of urgency. The sudden passion Kaede and Takeo have is laughable. And when two major characters die tragic deaths, I felt completely unmoved. The good guys are utterly noble in all things, while the bad guys are evil through 'n' through.
Takeo in particular seems passionless and kinda dull. He goes through all sorts of harrowing experiences, but doesn't seem to feel anything. Shigeru was so noble and distant that I found it hard to care much about him. Kaede alone, with her growing sense of desperation, was a compelling character.
While the idea itself is twisty and intriguing to watch unfold, the execution is definitely lacking. Those hoping for a sort of Japanese "Lord of the Rings" won't find the richness they were looking for.
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Her prose is simple, often sparse, but as beautiful as haiku.Read more