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Across the Nightingale Floor: Tales of the Otori Book 1 Paperback – 6 Jun 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (6 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330493345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330493345
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,100,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lian Hearn studied modern languages at Oxford University and worked as a film critic and arts editor in London before settling in Australia. A lifelong interest in Japan led to the study of the Japanese language, many trips to Japan, and culminated in the Tales of the Otori series. The books in the series have been sold into 36 countries and have been world wide best sellers.

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Amazon Review

Across the Nightingale Floor more than lives up to its billing as an exceptional new literary sensation, from the tragic excitement and drama of a sacked village on the opening page, to the later multi-layered court intrigues and tales of family revenge by ancient Japanese dynasties. The engaging story and appealing characters combine incredibly well to produce a highly readable book that should appeal to many different-aged readers.

Takeo is just 16 when he loses his family to the evil Lord Iida and it seems like incredible luck when he is saved from death by the noble Shigeru, rightful heir to the Clan of the Otori. As Takeo travels into new territory and towards a new, unknown life, the tribal rivalries, romances and histories at large in this new world are revealed to him. These are treacherous times. Everyone is at risk, and few can be trusted. Takeo also has a special gift--inherited skills that mark him out as different from other men. He is at once desirable and highly dangerous to those in power. His life is soon in danger.

It's a fascinating landscape and a riveting story; it's genuinely very difficult to put down once you've started it. Unusually for a children's book with so many characters, several with strange-sounding names, the story is easy to follow. The writing is exceptional, with very few words out of place. The author, a pseudonym for Australian writer Gillian Rubinstein, is generous enough to paint the characters and scenery in great detail, yet keeps the writing clipped enough for the plot to move along at a steady pace. Importantly, there are no slow bits.

The book does not flinch from adult content and is certainly a mature read. There are numerous deaths, several beheadings, torture, cruelty and even a little lovemaking. All, however, are within context and not gratuitous. (Age 12 and over.) --John McLay --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'The most compelling novel to have been published this year' Amanda Craig, Observer

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "jaucourt" on 25 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback
I have always enjoyed fantasy novels, but long ago got thoroughly sick of the d&d mages and mercenaries, evil-dark-lord-of-the-north-taking-over-the-world-with-an-army-of-trolls. This is the sort of fantasy book that grabs my attention now, and it really did grab it by the throat.
As you'll have realised, it is set in Japan, and I think that it must some time in the early modern period as the 'hidden' people amongst whom the main character, Takeo, grew up sound remarkably like Japanese Christians. It has all the clichés, two lovers torn apart by war, etc, etc, but it is far from a cliché. Takeo is far from 'flat' as I've seen one reviewer describe him, he is an enormously complex character dragged this way and that by his upbringing amongst the Hidden, his powers and ties to the 'Tribe', his inheritance from the Otori and his love of Kaede. His struggles to resolve all of these different currents will take far more than one book, and having read the second (Grass for his pillow), will take more than two. If you are looking for a beautifully written historical novel with breathtaking characterisation and some magic thrown in (and let's face it, who isn't!) then this book (along with the other two in the series) will be just your cup of tea.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Chloe M on 17 Dec 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A beautifully crafted work. I bought this book as a gift for my teenage son but had to read it first. The writing is spare and elegant and the landscape descriptions are luminous. The two central love stories are treated with compassion and restraint.
I am really looking forward to the next books in the trilogy.I don't read much fantasy fiction but this must surely be the best writing in this genre since Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea Quartet.
Highly reccomended for all readers aged twelve and upwards.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "loz0000" on 18 Aug 2004
Format: Paperback
This book had me from the minute I picked it up. From the very first pages you feel like you have known Takeo (or Tomasu) all your life and you sympathise with him, and being a quite emotional person, I even cried, and at first you are wary of his rescuer.
All the way through the book you are introduced to new characters and Lian Hearn has an astonishing way of familiarising you with even the most arrogant and selfish people (Iida).
The idea of love at first sight between the two characters (who I will leave unnamed) was dangerous and forbidden and you were anxious to know what would happen, how they would do it!
This is a book I would recommend to anyone of any age from 13+, it explores the beatiful and graceful nature of Japan, and the wars that happen in between the more intricate storylines cannot be credited enough!
An amazing read!!!
I start to read the second book today, Grass for his Pillow, and no doubt I will be hooked once more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laura T VINE VOICE on 6 May 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was struck by the amazing style of this book, it is very well-written and really does feel Japanese. The world created is very interesting - I am interested now in nightingale floors, and glad to learn there are some real examples and they aren't just the author's invention. However, I was a bit disappointed by the characterization. The main character of this book is Takeo, who narrates chapters in first person. The other chapters are narrated in third person about the second main character, Kaede. Both these characters felt slightly flat to me - I couldn't really identify with them, and I felt especially that we could have learnt about Takeo in more depth, as first person narration usually allows. The warlord characters (Lord Shigeru and Iida Sadamu) were divided neatly into good and evil, and I felt I would have liked a bit more depth here as well.
Although I enjoyed this book, and thought the descriptions and the mood it created was excellent, I was also a little disappointed with the final resolution of the plot. After all the build-up (and the title of the book!) about Takeo crossing the nightingale floor, you'd think they'd describe it in more detail, and make it have some point. The characters of the Tribe also annoyed me. Overall this is a good read, but not a book I will remember that long.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By selenityshiroi on 20 Sep 2002
Format: Hardcover
I am very interested in Japanese culture and after noticing a book review of this in one of the national papers I decided to buy it from a local shop while it was half price. I was NOT disappointed.
This is a wonderful story, one that is not afraid to show the darker side of life, or the more adult and serious side of life, and one that, although it is simple enough in its structure for a younger reader, does not insult the readers intelligence like so many books for teens nowadays. I myself am 20, and although I read many advanced books, and ones with much deeper literary content, this book and story just grabbed my imagination and pulled me into the intricate tapastry of an earlier Japan and the main characters, Kaede and Takeo, make this world come to life through their eyes.
If only other authors would be willing to write a story based in a culture unfamiliar to its target readers. I think a lot can be learned from a culture other than your own, and the story is so much more interesting when it is relying on you to take some initative and think for yourself instead of having every aspect of a story explained to you.
I truely cannot wait for the next two stories to be published.
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