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4.2 out of 5 stars47
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 26 October 2006
I loved the first three of the Otori series, and I could not wait for this book to come out. It is set 16 years after the end of Brilliance of the Moon, when Takeo and Kaede have established peace and prosperity in the Three Countries. They have a 15 year old daughter called Shigeko, and 13 year old twin girls called Maya and Miki. However, the tranquility does not last as this book is all about the many problems which begin to besiege the Otori.

This book has all the elements which made the others great: searing medieval Japan, mystery and the supernatural Tribe, beautiful romance and sex, exciting plot twists. However, I felt it had a distinctly different tone from the others.

About half way through, i began to think it was not quite what I had been hoping for. But it was still gripping, and as I read it on it became terrbily exciting. In the last few chapters I began to foresee the end, and I realised that although the feel of the book is different to the first three, it has the same principles guiding it. Perhaps I would say that The Harsh Cry of the Heron is the 'yin' to the first three's 'yang'. It is certainly longer.

I was not at all disappointed when I finished it, and I am sure it will increase my enjoyment of the first books. At the very end, I found that it was almost unbearably sad, and actually cried which I rarely do for books. It broke my heart in many ways. I won't say exactly how as it will spoil it, but it was a thoughtful, intelligent and beautiful end to a poignant book.

And jolly good fun in the end, once you remember it's only a book!!

Definately I would encourage all fans of the first three, or fantasy, or epic romance, or Japan. It has something for everyone I suspect. =)
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on 6 January 2007
I had to wait until Christmas to get this book despite it coming out in September but it was worth it!!

Having loved all 3 previous Tales of the Otori books, I had high expectations and I can safely say I was not disappointed. With so many twists I was gripped from beginning to end, and once again Hearn's haunting writing style meant the mood could be instantly changed and a wide range of emotions were felt. This book is stunning, in every sense of the word and the unexpected plot left me feeling shocked and saddened at the end, however inevitable it was.

I honestly cannot praise this book enough, in my mind it has become a modernday classic that is nowhere near appreciated as much as it should be.
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on 29 October 2006
For an introduction to the books read the synopsis and not my review!

For an opinion of this book read on!

Okay, I Started the books at about 12 (I think) and since the present day I have not enjoyed another book more than this. The author Lian Hearn has devoted herself to the writings of these books and she has conquered the detail of all her books to the highest level. I am 14 now.

Not once do you find a boring or dull page in this series and I hope all you readers buy the books, and hopefully, enjoy them as much as I have.

10/10 In every Way!
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on 15 October 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed the first 'Tales of The Otori' trilogy, and when the 'The Harsh Cry of the Heron' came out I must say that I was a little dissapointed that Lian Hearn wanted to make another (i never think it's good to make more after a trilogy), however I bought it anyway because I thought it would still be as good as the first too.
And it is, in a way, it has some really nice interesting moments. However compared to the others (which i would give a hearty 4.5 stars) it just doesnt match up to their standard. It just feels too much like it's been made to cash in. Takeo (the main character) goes on about his happy life, and how much he likes Kaede almost to the point where you just want to say 'okay okay i'm glad you're happy, but stop dwelling on it'. Also, the book doesn't really kick off properly until about halfway.
Another thing I wasn't so happy about was that I feel that there are too many main characters, and that Lian Hearn hasn't really developed some of them as much as she could, or developed their relationships properly. It fact, I almost think that Takeo's character has almost deteriorated slightly.
I think it would be better if the whole book was compressed to about 400 pages, because that would make it a much more action packed 'on-your-toes' read.
However... it gets about 3 stars because, hey, it's not as bad as her first books, but at least it's not Enid Blyton or any other similar shizzle.
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on 30 December 2013
Like many others, I read the series when I was younger, and coming back to it at a later date to find two more books had been published was a joy. Tales of the Otori does what the best books do, and unfolds new angles and enjoyment every time it's reread.

However, the series also suffers from a feeling of too much trying to fit into too little space, and Harsh Cry of the Heron is a prime example of this. The book is considerably longer than the others, but somehow seems to lack the sense of tranquility and space that the trilogy always captured for me. No matter how tense or anxiety provoking the plot grew, there was always a calm and centred quality to the writing that took time to pause and look at the landscape that surrounded the main characters and made the story so rich and believable. Harsh Cry does this to some extent, but it is compromised by the number of main characters and various subplots.

I don't mean to detract from the book - it was a satisfying read with a plot line that made me both anxious of the outcome and excited to return to read another chapter. But it lacked the deep satisfaction and closure I'd expected from the last book in the series, and while it succeeded in wrapping the story up, it left me with the feeling that Lian Hearn should have left herself more space. Some characters' purposes and fates are left very unresolved. For instance, the character Madaren is introduced, given a very significant connection to Takeo, but ultimately serves no purpose at all to the plot. Her appearance doesn't trigger any great revelation or prompt subterfuge that was not already underway, and could quite easily have been changed to a faceless translator, leaving the space her chapters occupied for other more central characters. She seemed like an unintentional red herring.

It felt to me that the weight of the book was off - the attention that should have been paid to developing main characters such as Takeo's son was instead invested in other, less meaningful characters, and the culmination of the plot so close to the end of the book didn't leave quite enough time for everything to be satisfactorily resolved, leaving me clutching increasingly few pages and wondering how she could possibly wrap everything up in time. She did, just barely. But it left many questions unanswered. Is Shigeko happy? What became of Shizuka? How does Miki deal with what she has witnessed? What about what Yuki said about Hisao: that were he ever to realise his powers fully he would be irredeemable?

Overall, I'd recommend any fans of the series to read this book. It has many excellent qualities and gives closure to the series as a whole. However, be aware that it is not up to the same beautifully concise, spare plot and writing of the first three books, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who hasn't read the series, for it doesn't stand alone.
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on 20 May 2009
As ever, the style of the writing took me to a land full of betrayal, fighting and sorrow. This book was by far the darker of the 4 books. The ending is satisfactory, not necessarily a HEA, but for those who read the previous three books knew there would be sorrow here.

The story is tied up well. Both old characters (Kaede, Takeo) and relatively new ones (his children - all of them) have their stories in a way that lets me access their characters on a deeper level than when they were mentioned by a different point of view. Lots of female POV's for this reviewer!

I do have several small gripes. Initially, (for about 60 pages), I felt a lot of back story was told. I feel this back story, filling in around 16 years from the last book, could have merited a novel of its own. Considering that Takeo's daughters, the twins Maya and Miki, and their elder sister Shigeko have a significant role in this book, having a book before it to introduce their characters and how they came to be who they are would have cut the feeling of being 'told' events.

I did like the level of darkness surrounding the twin's tale. There are several story twists which I won't put here, but my spine shivered in several places where Lian guided the story. Almost verging on the horror genre for me.

Concepts that were touched upon in other books were depicted in more detail, that was too much for me. I only read on because I wanted to learn of the end. I can possibly see why the content was put in, although there were a few points that I felt the imagination was quite capable of filling in the blanks. If you're looking for a PG book, this isn't one. It deals with adult situations, and a variety of relationships.
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on 9 August 2007
I haven't read this book yet and now may never do, as some unbelievably idiotic, dim, foolish person has revealed what is probably the most integral part of the ending of this book in this review section and even stated they didn't expect it, why ruin a surprise for everyone else!!!!!!!!! Whoever this was should consider the fact that amazon is a SHOP so in general people haven't read stuff they don't already own and probably don't know the ending before they've read it, or want too!! There are forums to discus the finer details, use them!!!!!
Sorry for those who wanted an actual review. I'm just very irritated as i loved the first three books and would most definitely recommend them. I probably will still read this book because i've got to complete the story even though it has been more than slightly ruined!
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on 25 September 2008
After sticking with the Harsh Cry of The Heron, I am eager to read Heavens Net is Wide, Lian Hearn has always really dug deep into the feel of historical Japan and descibes it beautifully (as always) throughout the book. You can become quite attached to the new characters and want to see their outcome, as well as hidden motives and if Takeo's position as ruler of the three countries will prosper? Its not a cliffhanger but it certainly is a roller coaster book and even though I cried for the end and the characters, it was still a thoughtful ending for the scene etc. You'll need to be loyal to finish the book, but its deffinatly worth it. so enjoy
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on 20 February 2012
Like many readers, it had been a few years since I'd last read a novel in the `Tales of the Otori' series and for me personally that period in between novels gave me a new appreciation of Hearn's lyrical, imaginative, detailed and thought-provoking writing style. `Harsh Cry of the Heron' reignited my passion for Lian Hearn's stories.

The Three Counties is a fascinating landscape and the events that take place following the bloody trials in the early life of Otori Takeo (mainly during the peaceful period of his rule) including the education and development of his and Kaede's children are still highly engaging. I think perhaps it is somewhat over-long at 631 pages and there is a disappointing sense of aimlessness to the plot in the beginning. There is also very little intrigue, suspense or drama in the first few hundred pages. There is, however, a great deal of foundation laid for the book's climax.

But even the lack of substantive plot twists in the first few hundred paged can't detract from the engaging prose and interesting cast of characters. It's only a small shame that events don't become thoroughly engrossing (as the original three novels in the `Tales of the Otori' series more often than not were) until the final 200 pages.

In the final quarter of the novel there are battles, betrayals, revelations, tears and tragedies galore. The gentle pace for the majority of the novel certainly lulls the reader into a false sense of security by imagining that the Three Counties will forever remain the same, that peace and prosperity will endure and our heroes will always triumph.

This novel teeters on the verge between a 3.5 and a 4 star rating so delicately that I can't help but award 4 stars- the author's prose remains undiluted in its beauty, the layers of plot and characters are astounding and the tearful bittersweet ending truly satisfying (if undeniably heartbreaking).
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on 4 August 2011
I have just finished the Harsh Cry of the Heron, and wow!!! it was a brilliant if not poignant end to the tales of the Otori.
It has been a long journey and each step I was gripped and addicted to finding out what would happen next, I recommend Heavens Net is Wide and the subsequent Trilogy to anyone. Most exciting read I have had in years.

This book in particular is double the size of the earlier books, but I was glad, I can't get enough!
You have a feeling the prophecy is catching up with Takeo, and whereas in the previous 3 books, he and Kaede seem to ultimately conquor their enemies, in this you feel all the threads unravelling and find your almost praying for something good to happen. Interesting as the distant Emperor features in this one, linked to the 'Kirin'!
The ending which I wont spoil is actually heartbreaking and so sad I felt like crying (due to the fact I had finished the stories and there would be no more, as well as what happens!), which is rare for me. So sad! (but still worth reading).

All the pawns in the chess game have come together seemingly to conspire against Takeo, and I ended up despising one character at the end I didnt expect! I would have liked something more at the end to explain fully the end- from the integral characters viewpoints, but she writes in a clever way to get this across without repeating versions. Still I wished I knew more about Takeos eldest daughter Shigeko, or Hisao, but maybe thats me being selfish and not wanting it to end.

Sseriously recommend this, fantastic!!!
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