This is the same review that I posted for the first volume of this series. If you read that one, by the same headline, no need to reread.
I actually purchased the Hollow Reed Series when it was offered as a trilogy rather than two volumes. Therefore, I can't be positive at exactly what point in the story this new first volume ends. The series provides insight into the lives of the Japanese people in the class system preceding the start of Shogun rule in Japan. We see an era where women didn't have much say about their future and watch the female protagonist, Toshiko Yamada, try to find love and happiness with the court physician, Sadahira Yamada, after fleeing the Emperor Go-Shirakawa's court.
It isn't just Toshiko's story. We also see a glimpse into what the son of a warrior, Sadahira Yamada, who chose another path for his life might have encountered. We meet his adopted children, one of which is Hachiro who I understand is the protagonist in the author's novel The Sword Master. I have it but haven't yet read it. We also follow Sadahira into a war forced upon him.
If a book is written well, I find myself with vivid mental images of the people and era I am reading about. This was the case with The Hollow Reed series. I could visualize the countryside, characters, events and cared about the people. I have now added additional works by the author to my Kindle library and look forward to immersing myself in them as well.