Review: Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn

Title - Across the Nightingale Floor I The Sword of the Warrior
Author Lian Hearn
Pages 225
Year 2002
Reading Time 3 days (October 2008)
Rating 7 out of 10

Title - Across the Nightingale Floor: Journey to Inuyama
Author Lian Hearn
Pages 225
Year 2002
Reading Time 2 days (October 2008)
Rating 7 out of 10

I review together because this two books are the first part of a trilogy even if they were published in two separated books. I bought the six books that comprised this series. They seemed a good story, with good reviews and fairly low price (each book cost me around three pounds). After reading this two books I put the rest away but I will be reading them on the following months. That’s why I am making this review. To remember about the plot (with a little help from wikipedia or other reviews).

Mainly as I said there is a trilogy called Tales of the Otori devided in six parts with two plus books that make a prequel and a sequel. This series are set in a fictional world based on Feudal Japan. From their names and costumes we recognized the similarities between those two worlds. The main character and their city resemble the struggle that the Japanese converted to Christianism had to pass. The books follow the life of a young warrior called Otori Takeo (Tomasu) as he struggles to avenge his adoptive father and at the same time escape the legacy of his progenitors and at pursuing the love of his live (kaede). In the midst of all this there is a struggle between all the clan lords and warriors.

These two books cover a year and in that time a lot is happening at the same time. I think it’s not an hard book to follow (the plot) but a lot of things happens at the same time.
Tomasu is a member of The Hidden and as he returns home from exploring the mountains he finds the members of his family killed. As he tries to escape Sadamu (leader of Tohan, who have slaughteres his family) e meets a men called Lord Shigeru (Clan Otori) who protects him later adopt him. However due to his name (typical Hidden) he renames him Takeo. At this time he loses his voice and as a superhearing voice.

On the journey home at Shigeru they met Maruyama Naomi (a ruler of Sheishuu) who he befriends and tell her about the slaughter. At night with his ability to hear everything he discovers that Lord Shigeru and Lady Maruyama are in love. As they arrive at the home of Shigeru in Hagi meets Chiyo (old maid) and Ichiro (ex-instructor of Shigeru). As Shigeru wants Takeo to be his adopted son he must married Kaede. However, Takeo was under the threat of Shigeru’s uncle’s sons who tried to murder him at a practice.

Later Takeo meets Muto Kenji (The Fox, Master of Muto Clan) who reveals himself as Takeo’s true father and the most skilled assassin of Kikuta and of the greastest family of the Tribe.
As the season pass Kenji starts teaching his skills to Takeo.. One day a merchant recognizing him (Takeo had saved his live when we was still an Hidden) calls him with his true name. Taeko denies that it his is name and fleds. After some months Shigeru and Takeo and some other people went to Tsuwano where they meet Shigeru’s future wife, Kaede.

There they find that Kaede is a hostage to Noguchi since she was seven living in the maid’s rooms. In the trip to Tswwano a guard tries to rape her and she stabbes him. Kaede is protected by Lady Maruyama (the one Shigeru loves) and they are accompained by Shizuka (niece of Kenji). When they meet Takeo and Kaede find that they have a connection.

As they return home to Hagi they stop at a shrine to visit Shigeru’s brother grave and for Shigeru to discuss war plans with the Abott.. Shigeru then plans for Takeo to murder Iida but the Tribe not wanting to risk Takeo and appreciating the stability that Iida gives abducts him so his training can be finish. The treachery then plays itself out… Shigeru is crucified on the castle wall and Maruyama and her daughter are drown as they try to escape. Takeo makes deal with the Tribe that allows him to bring Shigeru’s body and in return they join them. As he do it a dying Shigeru asks Takeo to bury him in Terayama. During the invasion of the castle at Inuyama Takeo discovers Kaede with the corpse of Iida whom she killed when he tried to rape her. After carrying Shigeru’s wishes Takeo honors his promise to the tribe and departs with them leaving Kaede in the care of Shizuka.

This is the review of the two books… there are terms that are confusing and I will put here what they mean…

Tribe – It’s a secret organization that nurture the powers that the world used to have. Meaning is a combination of Magicians and Assassins / Spies.
Hidden – Is a religion (or group of people that prays a religion) similar to our Christianism.

This two books are good but they have some problems. The cliched story and the proximity of Japanese culture but not calling it Japanese… Not all things are bad and the writing style was simple but at the same time makes you wonder about it… What is a nightingale floor? That sort of imagery enrich the story. At the same time as the book is entitle Nightingale Floor and the training all focus on that but in the end was anti-climax since he crossed it easily. The conversations are not that good and the all love between the two charactersa was very poor.

In the end it was a interesting reading about (quasilike)Japan with well-crafted story but poor executed. I really hope the following books are better…
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