Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Harsh Cry of the Heron

By Lian Hearn. The last tale of the Otori (which is to say, book 4, though not the last one to be told: the back of the book says a prequel is coming out this year.)

Wow. What can I say? I want to say that this is a really good book, but I don't want to give the wrong impression. It is, for the most part, excellent, but it isn't layered (that I can tell) with the huge amounts of symbolism and other literary devices that make authors like Gene Wolfe so great. This is more in the line of an adventure, or "sword and sorcery" story.

It helps if you are familiar with the background by having read the first three books. Although the prophecy is referred to many times, the exact words are not repeated in this book. It also helps if you have some familiarity with Japan and perhaps the rest of the Far East. Lord Otori Takeo (the family name always come first in this book) has become a strong ruler in the sixteen or so years since the previous book, but he was not ruthless enough to completely destroy his enemies. Having raised up a government based on justice and loyalty, he is loathe to undermine those principles, even though his enemies hesitate at nothing in their desire for revenge.

This book contains many sad events; one character even says that the people weep at tragedy, but enjoy doing so. Even so, there is some hope in the ending.

Definitely recommended, but read the first three books (starting with Across the Nightingale Floor) first.

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