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The Cloud Pavilion (Sano Ichiro Series) Paperback – 28 Jan 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Robinson Publishing (28 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849012067
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849012065
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 276,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“One of the best mysteries of the year.”—"Publishers Weekly" “Rowland has a painter’s eye for the minutiae of court life, as well as a politician’s ear for intrigue.”—"The New York Times Book Review "“Entertaining. . . . . Rowland creates a well-crafted portrait of an exotic place and time.” —"The Times-Picayune "on "The Cloud Pavilion "“An exercise in pure entertainment . . . ["The Fire Kimono"] takes us to an exotic time and place and overwhelms us with intrigue, romance, adventure, and frequent bloodshed.” —"The Washington Post "“Demonstrating an impressive level of sustained excellence, Rowland’s mysteries set in seventeenth-century Japan form one of the best recent series in the genre.” —"Publishers Weekly" (starred review) on "The Snow Empress"

About the Author

Laura Joh Rowland came to writing by accident, having first gained a degree in microbiology and a masters in public health, and then working as a chemist and microbiologist. She is the author of more than a dozen acclaimed murder mysteries, particularly the Sano Ichiro series set in feudal Japan and featuring samurai detective Sano Ichiro. The granddaughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants, Laura Joh Rowland grew up in Michigan and now lives in New Orleans.

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By stevey on 28 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
a must have rowland does it again have all the series you can really get lost in the character sano and how his career progresses a must read
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By sandra rawle on 2 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Love these Japanese books. Gives a good view of ancient feudal system.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stella Philippou on 19 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
If you love Japan then this book is for you. Well the whole Sano Ichiro series. Rowland describes medieval Japan in a way that makes the reader able to see, feel and smell what the characters do. A must read. Cant wait for the next one.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
No Honorable Way Out 7 Nov. 2010
By Jay - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read The Cloud Pavilion I'm left wondering how many more Sano novels Rowland will try to crank out; much like Tom Clancy and his Jack Ryan series this one seems tired. Like her characters it seems that she's boxed herself in a corner with no honorable way out.

I've read every Sano Ichiro novel from the very beginning 16 years ago. Had Rowland left Sano as an investigator (ala Christie's Poirot or even Martin Cruz Smith's Renko) without all of the political intrigue she feels compelled to include it'd be much a more durable series. Alas before I cracked open the cover I already knew what to expect and got pretty much just that. I get the feeling that Rowland herself is bored with her characters and because of all of the political intrigue she's woven doesn't know how to bring the series to a good end. IJ Parker's Akitada mysteries seem to be avoiding that trap and thus I find myself wondering if Parker couldn't write faster! The Sano series lost that allure years ago.

Other reviews of other Sano novels have complained about the anachronisms but since this is fiction I generally don't see the problem with bending truth or reality a bit. However with each novel or two there seems to be a new entry in the "how far can I push this" contest. First there was his willful and disobeying wife Reiko. Though her character is toned down in recent novels she tends to stretch the bounds of believability for feudal Japan. Then there is Sano's chief retainer Hirata and his relatively new mystical martial arts prowess. In this novel it's Sano's son Masahiro and his willful headstrong intention to become an investigator like his father or Mitsuke spy.. Some kind of invisible barrier has been crossed with me where the series has become predictable, tired and one dimensional.

If you are new to the series this novel is probably a decent, though not stellar, read. The first novels in the series, "Shinju", "Bundori" and "Way of the Traitor" are much better before Sano's mission somehow became "saving Japan from Yanagisawa". The middle novels in the series starting with "The Concubine's Tattoo" make Sano a secondary character to his liberated and headstrong wife Reiko. This is where the franchise begins to weaken in my opinion. The last five novels, with Sano now elevated to Chamberlain are the weakest in the series to me.

In "The Cloud Pavilion" I can see Rowland struggling with her characters to try to bring the series back into the realm of believability. However in doing so she sheds what makes historical fiction so interesting of a read, the in depth descriptions of life in Edo and feudal Japan and the cast of characters that go along with it. In "Pavilion" most of the characters are the same worn ones that survive from book to book, the only real new characters being the criminals themselves and Sano's estranged uncle. As Chamberlain Sano's possibilities as a detective are much more hemmed in and with no character to fill the gap the series falters and Rowland seems forced to reach for filler in an attempt to make the story come alive.

At this point I'm not certain I'll buy any 15th novel in the series. On the one hand I've become so familiar with the characters and would like to see what's next in their fictional lives. On the yet third hand the willful suspense of disbelief that engrossed me so in her earlier works just isn't there anymore.

I've rated this novel three stars because Rowland is a skillful story teller; I just think that the series has drifted too far from what made it compelling to begin with. Should Rowland find a way to bring Sano and Co. back towards his investigative roots perhaps there is life still left in the series. Short of exile to some distant province I don't see how this is possible.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
super Japanese historical mystery 31 Oct. 2009
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In Edo in 1701, though some time has passed, Chamberlain Sano Ichiro reels from what happened last year that dishonored his family (see THE FIRE KIMONO). He knows he is fortunate to still have his position still and his beloved wife Reiko always at his side. Still Sano hurts with the betrayal, but vows to do his job with honor in support of his liege Japan's supreme dictator Tokugawa Tsunayoshi.

During a war scenario tournament to occupy the soldiers who have seen no action lately, Sano defeats his masked opponent, former Chamberlain Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, who the shogun has welcomed home from exile, an allegedly changed person. Sano does not trust his adversary further than he can throw him as he believes Yanagisawa and his most loyal son Yoritomo plot mischief. However, Sano has no time to consider what his enemy plans when his estranged uncle Major Kumazawa pleads with his nephew and Reiko to find his missing daughter Chiyo last seen at a nearby temple. Sano locates his cousin who was raped but his uncle wants to conceal the dishonor rather than pursue the culprit. Still with Reiko at his side they follow clues to the deadly criminal element inside of Edo while his fears of Yanagisawa's scheming come to bear against Sano with the shogun angry at him.

The latest Sano Japanese historical mystery is a super entry as the readers feels as if we have been transported back in time and place due to the rich background. As with the previous entry, the story line is driven by the cast especially Sano's extended family members who have been estrange for decades and of course his nastiest rival. Fans will appreciate THE CLOUD PAVILION as once again it is family matters that drive the hero and his intrepid wife.

Harriet Klausner
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Cloudy with a Chance of Beheadings 28 May 2010
By Hikari - Published on
Format: Hardcover
3.5 stars. This is the 14th adventure starring our favorite samurai detective, Sano Ichiro, and I have often mused how many more of these Laura Joh Rowland has in her. Will we still be going back to Edo when Sano is gray and arthritic and Reiko is busy arranging the 'omiai' (meetings with prospective spouses) for her children, Masahiro and Akiko? Possibly. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of evocative titles and Hokusai-inspired cover art for dozens more of these installments, but I worry at times that Rowland comes dangerously close to running out of story. She's skirted the precipice several times (most notably in the abysmal "Red Chrysanthemum" and the nearly-as-bad "Snow Empress") only to pull back and redeem herself. The last book, "The Fire Kimono" restored some of the charm and effectiveness of this series, and while I don't rate this newest one as Rowland's absolute best (that would probably be the first two, "Shinju" and "Bushido"), it's a solid entry into the canon that manages to move our story along, albeit more turgidly than we might hope for.

After a bloody civil conflict ended up with Sano and Yanagisawa's joint enemy, Lord Matsudaira, dead, relative peace has settled over the court. The two former archrivals are uncomfortably sharing the post of Chamberlain, taking turns being in the doghouse with their supremely erratic boss, the Shogun. Things are quiet--too quiet and Yanigisawa is being on his greasy best behavior. Sano knows that Yanigisawa is plotting something, but he doesn't know what. Three completely disparate women are brutally raped and left for dead after being abducted from area temples: an elderly nun, a gang lord's teenage daughter, and a young wife and mother from an aristocratic family. The third victim happens to be Sano's cousin, and as he investigates her case, he runs into various dead ends and roadblocks that he fears are being engineered by his old frenemy, Yanigisawa. Sano's old friend Hirata, now occupying Sano's former post of Sosokan-sama, meanwhile, is being stalked by a menace that will require all of his martial arts skill to defeat. By book's end, Rowland seems to have manuevered Sano out of the logjam he was in and found a way to restore his former verve for detective work. But as always, the ever-present threat of capital punishment: hara-kiri for him and execution for the rest of his family, remains the penalty should he fail at any time in his duty. This is a very tiring way to live and one wonders whether a comfortable retirement is even possible in Sano's future, be it near or far away.

If you are a new or casual reader of this series, it's really crucial to read these in order, as the books build consecutively on one another. I'm sure the reliable Rowland will have a 15th installment for Sano sometime next year; she turns these out like clockwork, good, bad or middling. A warning: this is probably the most sexually graphic of all the stories to date, notwithstanding that many 16th-century Japanese euphemisms are used for the sexual acts. Kinda makes me wish for the kinder, gentler days when Sano investigated a murder in a brothel.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I wanted to like it 31 Jan. 2011
By Autumn - Published on
Format: Paperback
Alas, this is yet another entry in the Sano the Japanese Detective series set in ancient Edo. The cover art is beautiful and I had high hopes for the story inside, but they were quickly dashed on the rocks. A quality story with interesting characters and beautiful descriptions, I really did love this series when Rowland started it years ago. The way Sano went about solving complicated mysteries without losing his head kept my nose in book after book. The settings came alive, you could see the palaces and the silk kimonos and feel the cherry blossoms in your hair.

The fun started going out of it a few books back, once Sano got married and his new wife seemed to push all boundaries of a highly structured society beyond what could ever be tolerated. The focus seemed to leave Sano and the mystery solving in lieu of his wife's snooping and another character's endless political plotting. Politics were a huge part of life in the emperor's circle, no doubt, but let's face it, heads would have rolled long before now. Too much politics, too little solid, find-who-did-it mystery. I still give Rowland high marks for the history of her Sano novels....she just seems to have lost the mystery and the romance. Please, how about something entirely different next time?
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An Intricate Mystery! 30 Nov. 2009
By Denise Bolds - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Rowland delivers another wondeful and engrosing mystery set in ancient Japan! I Love how Sano and Reiko are now raising their children - a future investigator for sure! Rowland's stories deliver mystery and history with vibrant descriptions of clothing, food and country - the characters also make this book another wonderfully done mystery and I can't wait for the next one! The culture is vibrantly described througout the book for a really great story that keeps the reader in suspense.
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