Fantasy, Low Fantasy
Tales of the Otori, Book # 1
ISIS Large Print Bks
August 26th 2002
May 21, 2021 May 24, 2021
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In his fortress at Inuyama, the murderous warlord Iida Sadamu surveys his famous nightingale floor. Constructed with exquisite skill, it sings at the tread of each human foot. No assassin can cross it unheard.
Brought up in a remote village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people, Takeo has learned only the ways of peace. Why, then, does he possess the deadly skills that make him so valuable to the sinister Tribe? These supernatural powers will lead him to his violent destiny within the walls of Inuyama – and to an impossible longing for a girl who can never be his. His journey is one of revenge and treachery, beauty and magic, and the passion of first love.
About the book
Across the Nightingale Floor is first of all a Fantasy. The author bases her world on medieval Japan, but being a fantasy, it’s not historically accurate. In fact, this is not the author’s intent. I want to clarify this because many have not understood the author’s intent at all and if you read this book because it talks about Japan, the premises are wrong and therefore you cannot be angry about a wrong representation of the country.
That said, the book is Takeo’s coming-of-age story, a little boy who, one day, is deprived of his family and village. He is saved by the noble Otori who will take him with him to his house and adopt him.
The story, however, is also of Kaede, a noble hostage of a noble, Iida, who (Kaede) will have to deal with the will of the lords of the time and act as a pawn in the war between the two clans (Otori and Thoan, Iida’s clan).
What I think
I loved the book. I couldn’t believe how much I loved it, really and to think that I didn’t want to buy it. The story is based on my favorite country and despite being a fantasy I loved this setting. The story then picks up immediately and is so smooth that you can’t stop reading, especially at the end.
The descriptions are fabulous and often the language feels almost dreamlike. I have often found myself contemplating the author’s style and I think she did a great job bringing such a particular culture into a fantasy.
This story could go in two ways: one that ended the book and the series and the other that promised a continuation. I am happy that the author has chosen the second path even if the end of the first would have been more beautiful (I mean more happy ending). The author is not afraid to kill certain characters to advance the story and I like that a lot.
There are two points of view, one written in the first person and the other in the third. Takeo is the protagonist and speaks in the first person, instead Kaede’s stories are narrated by a third person and I like that. I, then, find the prose poetic, the descriptions are interesting and also the names. Maybe because I’ve been studying kanji for a while, but when clan’s insignia was said with their names, I always wrote the names in kanji and often found the meaning of the insignia thanks to them.
I honestly compare this style to a poetic song, as, perhaps, to the song of a nightingale, I don’t know, reading this comparison came to mind.
Takeo is a peculiar boy, his village was exterminated because it was part of the Hidden, people who repelled war, murder and worshipped the Hidden God. But Takeo is not what he seems and he doesn’t really know who he is either. His training path is not boring at all and being in the first person we also know what he thinks.
Kaede, the Noble Kaede, when I read this name I felt like I was reading Inuyasha. Anyway. She is a 15-year-old girl who has been locked up for 7 years in the castle of Lord Noguchi ally of the greater Tohan clan. Here she does not have an easy life because she is not treated like her rank and only when another lord intervenes, she is considered for who she is. After that, she is used as a pawn to subdue the Otori clan of which Takeo is now a member.
I find Lord Shigeru (who should be the head of the Otori clan, but since the end of the previous war, the Tohan gave the clan to his uncle) the reincarnation of Japanese patience. His character is very kind, calm, philosophical and I admire what he does for Takeo.
We didn’t meet Iida Sadamu much but what we saw was enough for me. He is the classic pretender, in love only with money and power and frowned upon by many.
I recommend the saga. If you are a lover of Japan in general and you want a story based on this extraordinary country but which does not exactly speak of its real history, I recommend it. Do not read it if you want something that talks about the history of medieval Japan, there are other books belonging to the historical genre that are much more appropriate. This, I repeat, is a fantasy.