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Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori, Book 1) Paperback – June 3, 2003

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Editorial Reviews Review

The debut novel of Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori series, Across the Nightingale Floor, is set in a feudal Japan on the edge of the imagination. The tale begins with young Takeo, a member of a subversive and persecuted religious group, who returns home to find his village in flames. He is saved, not by coincidence, by the swords of Lord Otori Shigeru and thrust into a world of warlords, feuding clans, and political scheming. As Lord Otori's ward, he discovers he is a member by birth of the shadowy "Tribe," a mysterious group of assassins with supernatural abilities.

Hearn sets his tale in an imaginary realm that is and isn't feudal Japan. This device serves the author well as he is able to play with familiar archetypes--samurai, Shogun, and ninja--without falling prey to the pitfalls of history. The novel fills a unique niche that is at once period piece and fantasy novel. Hearn unfolds the tale of Takeo and the conflicting forces around him in a deliberate manner that leads to a satisfying conclusion and sets the stage for the rest of the series. --Jeremy Pugh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Mystical powers and martial arts rampage through this pseudo-Japanese story, the first of a projected trilogy by newcomer Hearn, with an abandon that's head spinning. From the entrance of the 16-year-old hero, Takeo, as he is about to be swatted down by a mounted horseman and the way he can become invisible or make a duplicate of himself when he needs to, to the head-rolling decapitations that follow interminably, the impossible becomes the semiplausible. Takeo, who joins the Otori clan, is a religious outcast, and also, surprisingly, a member of "the Tribe," a secretive race that has unusual mental and physical powers that lend them an unworldly air. Takeo learns how to control his burgeoning talents just in time to avenge the death of his mentor, while politics and clan rivalries lead to an increasing amount of graphic bloodshed. Takeo enjoys a few blissful moments with the fetching Lady Kaede Shirakawa but, unfortunately, she is not destined to be his, now or in the future. For fans of Japanese samurai warrior fantasy, this novel is right in the ballpark, filled with swords, clan in-fighting, love affairs, invisibility and magical Ninja powers. However, for those looking for something with a bit of depth, the author tends to gloss over the details of why and how. Takeo learns the craft of the Tribe offstage and all the political maneuvering that goes into the clan warfare is rather murky. Hopefully, the next book will show what Hearn is really capable of.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Tales of the Otori, Book 1 (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; First Edition First Printing,cover Torn edition (June 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573223328
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573223324
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (252 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Jack Fitzgerald VINE VOICE on January 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Across the Nightingale Floor is a well-paced and orchestrated historical fantasy set in an imaginary feudal Japan-like setting.
Teenage Tomasu lives in a remote mountain village among a people called "The Hidden" who are a secretive and persecuted caste. One night his village is massacred by the chief warlord, Iida. Tomasu pulls a trick and escapes into the mountains and is saved by another warrior lord, Otori Shigeru. Otori takes Tomasu in as his son, renames him Takeo, and the young man begins to learn the way of the warrior. It soon becomes apparent that he possesses the skills of the assassin class known as "The Tribe" which include superior hearing, stealth, invisibility and the ability to leave a "second self" behind. Later, he learns to put people to sleep.
Meanwhile, a second plot told in the third person involves Kaede, a young woman who is the daughter of a lord but held hostage to keep her family from considering an uprising. The warlords are to use Kaede as a pawn in an arranged marriage with Otori. Things get complicated because of a certain Lady Maruyama, and then Takeo's feelings toward Kaede. A little Shakespearean tragedy within a Japanese setting makes for plenty of intrigue.
Takeo makes an interesting and likable protagonist, and I found myself cheering for him and all the challenges he had to face. The side characters were also colorful, with heroic Otori Shigeru, the mysterious teacher Kenji, the doomed Lady Maruyama, jinxed Kaede, and more. You know some of them will play larger roles in the following two books.
I wondered about this book being a young adult novel, because while the language and sentence construction read fairly simply, there is graphic violence and some sex that should be for a more mature audience.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By JOHN MCLAY on September 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Unusually for a book with so many characters, several with strange-sounding names, Across The Nightingale Floor is remarkably easy to follow. The main narrative is rich and eventful and I for one was attracted by the incident and intrigue that was delivered early on in the opening few pages. The setting is authentic and beautiful, familiar in many ways, yet new and mysterious in others. It's a fascinating landscape and the story quite riveting. It's genuinely very difficult to put down once you've started it.
The writing is exceptional, with very few words out of place. Smooth and easy to read, the author's style is generous enough to paint the characters and scenery very well, yet clipped enough to keep the plot moving along at a steady pace. Importantly, there are no slow patches!
The book does not flinch from adult content and is certainly a mature read. It appears pitched at an adult and young adult audience simultaneously. There are numerous deaths - several beheadings, torture, cruelty and other violence. All, however, are within context and not out of place.
The strong story, appealing characters and Japanesesque setting combine incredibly strongly within Across The Nightingale Floor to produce a highly readable book that should appeal to many different-aged readers.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Landis on March 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you like books about feudal Japan, this book is for you. It's a fascinating story that follows a young man as he grows up in the clans of Japan. This book has everything you need for a great experience, action, adventure, love, and betrayal.
I picked this book up on a whim and read four pages in and was hooked. It grabs a hold of you and you can't put it down. Not only are the characters great, with all kinds of individual plots, they all contribute to they main plot of the book. The young boy, Takeo, is taken under the protection of Lord Otori, a leader of one of the clans in Japan. Takeo joins Lord Otori after a rival clan kills his parents. From the second Takeo runs into Lord Otori in the woods the action doesn't stop. With all the twists and individual plots the end of this book leaves you wanting more. This book is also a surprisingly easy read, most of the books that I've read that are set in this time are usually hard to follow, but this book is well written and even with all the Japanese terms its easy to follow and a great read.
I highly recommend this book, not only to fans of fantasy, but also to anyone who wants to read a good book. This is one of the best books I've ever read and I am anxiously waiting for the rest of the trilogy.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ben on May 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Not in several years have I read a book this good, and I have read most fantasy-type books out there. To tell you the truth, I have read so many books that are trash that I have grown used to, perhaps even expecting, poor quality when I read a fantasy novel. Pure drivel like Robert Newcomb's "The Fifth Sorceress" or Terry Goodkind's "The Naked Empire" are popping up like weeds these days.
But amidst the piles and piles of rubble, sometimes you find that rose of exceptional beauty. And "Across the Nightingale Floor" is that rose. It's vastly different than the usual run-of-the-mill fantasy novels, unique even.
The setting of the book takes place in a mythical Japanese-like society, though it's not a direct allusion to actual history, and it features a smattering of magic. It's a coming of age story, but not in the usual Robert Jordan type of way. Perhaps the best way to describe it is as a recipe: Take the majestic backdrop of "Shogun", mix it with the cool assassin factor of Stoover's brilliant "Hero's Die", imbue it with the oriental mysticism of Eric Lustbader's "Ninja", then toss in a fabulous plot, superlative characterization, a good dose of pathos, a chunk of romance and you have what I consider to be one of the best books, ever.
If you have read "A Song of Fire of Ice" fifteen times, spun through the "Wheel of Time" more times than Nynaeve pulls her braid, consumed every Hobb novel, then give this book a shot; it won't disappoint.
It's a sweeping epic of love, betrayal, loyalty, magic, and a high quest for revenge, and so damn fine a read you will want to lick the cover when you're done. I HIGHLY recommend you check this book out.
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