Grass for His Pillow: Tales of the Otori Book 2

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9780330412735: Grass for His Pillow: Tales of the Otori Book 2
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In the ancient Oriental lands of the Otori, amidst a time of violent war, famine and treacherous alliances, the fate of the young lovers Otori Takeo and Shirakawa Kaede hangs in the balance . . .

Takeo, heir to the great Otori clan, has pledged his life to the secret Tribe. His supernatural skills of virtual invisibility and acute hearing make him their most deadly assassin. But he must deny the solemn oath of vengeance he made, his adopted birthright of wealth, land and power – and his love for Kaede. If he does not devote himself entirely to the brutal ways of the Tribe, they will kill him. Whichever path he choose, it will lead to hardship and sacrifice in the bitter winter of the high mountains, and test him to the limits of his being.

Kaede, heiress to vast lands, is now the valuable pawn of ruthless warlords. She must use her intelligence, beauty and cunning to assert her place in a world of all-powerful men – who must never suspect the dangerous secret she hides.

‘The beauty, savagery and strangeness of Hearn’s gripping tale is heightened by her exquisite, crystalline prose. The second instalment in the Tales of the Otori is, astonishingly, even better than Across the Nightingale FloorIndependent on Sunday

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Review:

Grass for His Pillow is the second volume of Lian Hern's "Tales of the Otori", a medieval Japanese fantasy saga that opened with the critically acclaimed Across the Nightingale Floor (2002). Towards the end of book one, our hero Takeo and his lady love Kaede--with help from both friends and enemies--brought down an unpleasant warlord. But regime change doesn't mean an automatic happy ending. Although honour demands that Takeo accept the title of his adoptive father Otori Shigeru and continue revenge on his behalf, he's claimed by the secretive Tribe who are his blood kin. The Tribe runs an underground network of spies and assassins, and Takeo himself has inherited the special powers of an assassin: fantasy talents which build on the legend of perfect Japanese warriors. The power of stealthy movement extends to periods of literal invisibility; uncanny speed becomes the ability to translocate to a "second self" and be momentarily in two places at once. Our man is harshly trained by the Tribe in readiness for a mission calculated to strain his new loyalty.

Meanwhile Kaede, pregnant by Takeo, returns to her dilapidated family estate and--without any magical talents to help her--determinedly begins to consolidate power and fight with all her intelligence, personality and beauty against the universal view that women are of no account except as wives. Her inheritance, she's told, will make her future husband a key player in the feudal power-struggle. So she thinks: "why should I not become a key player myself?"

The sense of place is strong and effective, as is the irony that in these times of unrest and upheaval the warrior class also cultivates appreciation of exquisite things. Elaborate preparation of tea, for example, or watching snowfall by lantern-light, or collecting ceramics too fine to be kept on display for profane eyes. This, Kaede fears, is how that lordly collector would like to keep her: beautifully wrapped and hidden away.

Inevitably Takeo breaks with the Tribe again and learns more about his other heritage as an Otori Lord. He also learns that there's a prophecy that he himself can buy peace for the troubled land after five battles: "four to win and one to lose". Compelling and evocative, Grass for His Pillow ends on a high note of suspense. The trilogy is to conclude with Brilliance of the Moon. --David Langford

Review:

"Lian Hearn has created a world I anticipate returning to with pleasure."

"As exciting a debut as any in recent years--part Shogun, part Lord of the Flies and entirely enchanting."

"Contains the same fantastic characters and fabulous events as its predecessor. The second in the series will certainly appeal to readers who enjoyed the author's popular Across the Nightingale Floor."

A welcome sequel to the deliciously readable "Across the Nightingale Floor" ("New York Times Book Review")

A welcome sequel...deliciously readable. In this new volume, we find ourselves once again transported to a medieval Japan of the imagination: a harsh land ruled by local warlords, an essentially static social order in which family ties bind tightly, a culture that mixes great refinement with unspeakable brutality...Reads like a fine translation from the Japanese. The New York Times Book Review

This is the second installment in Hearn s trilogy and astonishingly it s even better than volume one...the emotional power of the story is vastly magnified. Time and destiny are almost tangible in the novel...The beauty, savagery and strangeness of Hearn s gripping tale is heightened by her exquisite, crystalline prose. The Independent on Sunday (UK)

"

"A welcome sequel...deliciously readable. In this new volume, we find ourselves once again transported to a medieval Japan of the imagination: a harsh land ruled by local warlords, an essentially static social order in which family ties bind tightly, a culture that mixes great refinement with unspeakable brutality...Reads like a fine translation from the Japanese."--The New York Times Book Review

"This is the second installment in Hearn's trilogy and astonishingly it's even better than volume one...the emotional power of the story is vastly magnified. Time and destiny are almost tangible in the novel...The beauty, savagery and strangeness of Hearn's gripping tale is heightened by her exquisite, crystalline prose."--The Independent (UK)

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781594480034: Grass for His Pillow (Tales of the Otori (Paperback))

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