Grass for His Pillow

Grass for His Pillow
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, Book # 2
Riverhead Books
August 11th 2003
February 2, 2022 February 6, 2022
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Praised for its epic scope and descriptive detail, Across the Nightingale Floor, the first book in the Tales of the Otori series, was an international bestseller and critical success, named by the London Times as "the most compelling novel to have been published this year." With Grass for His Pillow, Book Two, we return to the medieval Japan of Lian Hearn's creation—a land of harsh beauty and deceptive appearances.In a complex social hierarchy, amid dissembling clans and fractured allegiances, there is no place for passionate young love. The orphan Takeo has been condemned to work as an assassin—an enforced occupation that his father sacrificed his own life to escape. Meanwhile, Takeo’s beloved Shirakawa Kaede, heir to the Murayama and alone in the world, must find a way to unify the domain she has inherited, as she fights off the advances of would-be suitors and hopes against fading hope that Takeo will return to her...

About the book

Second book in the Otori Saga series. Here, we find Takeo and Kaede divided after their night together. He followed the Tribe and is hidden for a while because he was wanted by Arai. She returns to her feud, meets her grown-up sisters together with her father and tries to establish her dominion over her lands. But she is a woman, she cannot rule for her husband. And she isn’t married or maybe she is? To hide Takeo’s pregnancy, she claims that she is Shigeru’s wife and that immediately after the wedding he was killed.

What I think

Another beautiful tale set in feudal Japan. The book is a bit slower than the first since it is winter and everything freezes this season due to the snow (as the Italian title says), but despite this, it was a beautiful journey. Usually I don’t read two books in a series one after the other because usually I don’t have them yet, but since I already have the third I can continue. I want to see if our heroes will succeed, I still want descriptions of political plots and battles. And I know that most likely it will not end well for our two protagonists, but I don’t care, if everything is done well I want to continue.

I can only make a comparison between Matsuda Shingen and Kenshin. Despite having the name of his enemy, I see a war hero who eventually became a monk. I wonder if the author hasn’t taken a little from the true history of feudal Japan and she hasn’t revisited it all. We’ll see if there are any other quotes that I recognise. (although, of course, it’s most likely all causal.)

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