Date finished: 5-07-08
Author: Lian Hearn
Category: Historical fiction
As Shigeru matures to leadership within the Otori clan, he is increasingly disturbed by way the Tohan are allowed to have their way on Otori land. His travels through the Middle Country endear him to his people, who believe he will restore the Otori and hold off the voracious Tohan.
But fate is not on Shigeru’s side as he wages war and he must learn patience and deviousness in his quest for revenge in this prequel to the Tales of the Otori.
I have thoroughly enjoyed Lian Hearn’s Otori series set in medieval Japan. The characters are people you wish you knew in real life, the settings described in great detail and the action fast-paced. This particular book takes us back before the others to tell us the tale of Shigeru, who is not with us long in the original series, starting at about the age of 12 before he becomes a great warrior. We follow with him as he completes his training, has his first interactions with the Tribe and learns of the existence of the people called the Hidden. If you’ve read the rest of the books already, you can see the Shigeru you already know developing.
My only real quibble is toward the end of the book where it seemed Hearn was trying to rope in all the facets of the story to make them tie in to the first book in the series – Across the Nightingale Floor. In fact, this book ends just moments into that one. Some parts of the story felt forced, in a way, for that reason. Despite this, much of what we see in Shigeru in the Nightingale Floor is understood better once you learn his whole story and not just what he tells Takeo in that book.