Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori) Paperback – Unabridged, 2 Apr 2004
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Takeo and Kaede are both apparently about 15 and yet behave not at all like 15-year-olds. I know it's a fantasy world etc, but their demeanours most of the time seemed no different to the adults they were dealing with, so very often I forgot they were meant to be much younger.
The love at first device was not to my liking at all - they take one look into each others' eyes and are immediately burned by passion and desire? Ugh, no thanks.
Much though I enjoyed the magical system in general, it was presented very haphazardly which really let it down. I've read many great books where a young student learns a new magical craft and it can be presented in such a way that the reader learns along with the character and really gets a lot from it. Aside from Takeo's hearing which was introduced quite naturally and quite well, the reader didn't witness him learning any of his other Tribe-endowed skills. We learned that the second self was a potential skill because Takeo sees Kenji use it, but it's never shown being taught. Instead Takeo sets off to research a mission and states that here he will use his second self (oh OK, so he can do that now?), here he will go invisible (WHAT, there's invisibility now?!) and so forth. Very disappointing.
There were however a couple of nice plot twists that kept me guessing right to the end and I was glad to see that Hearn wasn't scared to kill off some major characters in order to move the plot along. I probably will read the next to see what happens to Takeo now, but not in any big hurry.
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.
Passionate, vivid and beautifully written this is like the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, with elements of the supernatural in combat. It will thrill anyone of over 12.
The writing is beautifully understated and pared down, there's not an unnecessary word in it.
The characters are finely drawn and realised, Takeo is a confused mixture of boy and almost adult, with all the mixed emotions that period of life can being, and there are real female characters with real emotions and stories. I really cared about the characters and their fates, and I love the fact that some of the women can really kick it!
And the story itself is gripping and exciting - there are no compromises just because it's aimed at a younger audience, blood and death, love and passion, duty and honour, revenge and morality - it's all there...and it keeps you reading, breathlessly hurtling towards the end and all the while trying not to rush so as to keep it with you as long as possible.
I loved this book and I can't wait till the next one arrives in August.
If you liked His Dark Materials and Melvin Burgess' Bloodline, then this is for you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read it, and like another reviewer I never got hooked. Just came back to it now and again when I wanted to kill some time. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ste Drayton
As the blurb suggests the book is set in medieval Japan where clans are battling for power. Takeo is thrown into the action when his village is overthrown and destroyed by the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lizzy from My Little Book Blog
An absolutely fantastic read set in a kinda fantasy-feudal Japan.
The book gently reminded me of the likes of The Shackles Of A Name (The Spirals of Danu Book 3) and a little... Read more
I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters and interactions together with detailed descriptions of the setting pulled me in and kept me turning the pages (or swiping)Published 10 months ago by Jiteshkumar P. Joshi
Just a great book. Action and adventure along with a passionate storyline. An excellently written piece that allows the reader to dive deep into the culture.Published 12 months ago by Mr. T. S. Beechinor
This is a book that takes you into another realm and culture. It allows you to imagine and captures the Japanese culture with beautifully written insights. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Christopher J.W.Hawthorne