Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An imperfect jewel, but still precious, 25 Aug 2006
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This review is from: Brilliance of the Moon (Tales of the Otori 3) (Paperback)
The `Otori Trilogy' is a completely unique set of modern fantasy stories, truly refreshing in every way (especially in comparison to some other clichéd examples of the genre around at the moment) and one that very rightly deserves to be remembered and even to grow in popularity in years to come. But despite the delicate and vivacious prose, moving character histories and a truly involving imagined world, the `Otori Trilogy' is one that I felt never quite touched me in the way that great fantasy always should. As I came to the end of `Brilliance of the Moon' I was satisfied, but not as deeply moved as I wished to be.

One of the unique attributes of Hearn's writing for me is that as I read I am constantly surprised by the choices the characters make, frequently appalled by the horrific acts of violence they visit upon each other and numbed by the deaths of characters whose lives are taken seemingly so needlessly, but for whom Hearn has invested so much into. But while the actions of Takeo, Kaede, Kenji and all the rest always came as a constant surprise to me, in comparison the plot is somewhat linear with few twists to the tale, relatively few complications to entertain the reader and little deviation from the prophecy that was previously laid out as Takeo's path to greatness. Although this is a minor quibble, I couldn't help but feel that it was the author's duty to make rules and then break them, to predict one thing and to deliver another, just often enough to keep the reader on his/her toes. But the lack of complication meant that I never became as invested in the lives of the characters as I hungered to be, because so much is delivered to the reader by Hearn almost exactly as he foretold us that it would in the previous two stories.

In particular, I found the first half of this book much too sluggish, which shouldn't be the case in the conclusion to a trilogy. It was only about half-way into the book that the story really started to get as engrossing for me, as I found the entirety of `Grass for his Pillow' to be, which is achieved with a twist that I did not see coming. But even so, considering this is the third part of a trilogy- there were only a handful of chapters that I raced through in order to find out all that would happen next while at the same time savouring every line, word and syllable of them for their gorgeously precise descriptions and evocative dialogue.

Truthfully, `Brilliance of the Moon' is not the epic conclusion I was hoping for, but I was never, ever disappointed by it, because there's so much to enjoy about this book that at times it can be overwhelming and for that reason I would whole-heartedly recommend this book to everyone who fell in love with `Across the Nightingale Floor' and `Grass for his Pillow' just as Takeo and Kaede did for one another as they journeyed side-by-side through the harsh landscape of the Three Counties. Magical.
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