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The Harsh Cry of the Heron by Gillian…
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The Harsh Cry of the Heron (2006)

by Gillian Rubinstein

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
I quite liked it: I didn't feel quite the same desire to keep turning the pages as I did with the first book of the original trilogy, but it was entertaining enough.

The problem was the mostly slow start, I think, and the fact that I kept getting confused about who was related to who and who was doing what. I was a little annoyed at what finally happened to Shizuka: in the original trilogy she was a strong woman with a streak of ruthlessness. I felt a lot of that was lost this time.

The thing that does annoy me, reading some other reviews, is that people hate it and give it one star because it has an unhappy end. Yes, it's not a happy book. No, I don't think it's less worth reading for that. In fact, had everything been neatly and happily resolved at the end, it would've been rather silly. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Stop at the third book. I should have.
The story meanders, the characters lack fullness and the ending is telegraphed from page one. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
This is the last volume in the epic tale of the Otori clan. I've enjoyed the Otori novels but the pacing of this one seemed off. This had a really slow start and the ending seemed rushed. It appeared as if the author realized the book was running long and, since this is the conclusion, needed to quickly tie up a bunch of lose threads.

One of the most disconcerting qualities was the sudden and dramatic personality shifts that occur across many of the characters in the last few chapters. Those that have been consistently heroic and honorable turn villainous. Enemies become allies. Love turns to hate. All this adds up to a massive collapse and implosion of the Otori empire that we have come to respect and admire.

Characters are important in this book. The author spends a lot of time giving us minute details about appearance, behavior and motivation. This extends even to the horses, which happen to be included in the list of characters at the start of the book. To have everything change so suddenly at the end leaves you feeling depressed and wishing for a different ending. Although, I suppose those are the same emotions experienced by the characters left standing at the end of the book. ( )
  pmtracy | Sep 14, 2012 |
I thought I was done when I finished the Tales of the Otori trilogy. Then I discovered this book. Taking place 15 or so years after the trilogy, the story continues the intrigue in a magical version of medieval Japan. The Three Countries have known unparalleled peace and prosperity under Takeo and Kaede's rule, but old enemies are plotting against them. In addition, the emperor has noticed. Not pleased by Takeo's unsanctioned rule, he has demanded a personal appearance of Takeo in the capital.

Hearn opens up her storytelling in this book by telling the tale from many viewpoints, not just the two or three in the previous stories. Most notably are the povs of Takeo's three daughters: Shigeko, the eldest, who does not possess his special Tribe talents; and the twins, Maya and Miki, whose talents might surpass those of their father. As twins, they are considered bad luck by the populace and feared by everyday folk. Their own insecurities lead them to actions that help drive the story.

This is a complex tale with less action than the earlier trilogy, but one as intriguing and beguiling as those books. The end is fitting, yet leaves me wanting more, a true sign of a good writer telling a good story. ( )
1 vote ShellyS | Apr 15, 2012 |
There are several ways of presenting a book in a series to help the reader getting into things again. Lian Hearn’s tactic is to throw the pretty massive cast of this epic like a tidal wave on the cowering reader in the first fifty pages, with only the briefest of explanations. Add to that the well-known “names from a very different place” syndrome and the whole start becomes a rather tricky affair. I’m forced to resign to the fact that the year since I visited the Three Kingdoms is too long – a lot of the subtleties regarding how loyalties have shifted in the horde of secondary characters in the decade that has passed since the last book is lost on me. One or two of the characters I’m not quite sure of who the heck they are even after finishing this brick. In summary – I’m reading this book (almost) as a stand-alone.

Takeo’s and Kaede’s reign has been peaceful and prosperous for over a decade. Takeo is still thinking about the prophecy, but hasn’t found a way of telling his wife about the left out bit – that he is supposed to be killed by his own son. This is unfortunate, because jealousy, plotting and sibling rivalry is drawing the Kingdoms into conflict again – and secrets make lethal weapons. Add to that visitors from overseas with powerful fire weapons, and the prosperity of the the Otori Kingdoms attracting attention from the faraway emperor, and it’s pretty obvious the days of harvesting rice and raising horses are over.
Lian Hearn is writing epics in the true sense of the word, full of flawed characters facing terrible dilemmas, making both good and bad choices. She writes excellent female characters, complex and interesting without ever resorting to an over-compensating heroine stereotype. Kaede herself is a favorite of course, but her sinister twin daughters are pretty damn interesting too, or the aging assassin Shizuka. I also admire Hearn’s no-nonsense approach to characters when the plot calls for it. You can never be certain who comes out of a book alive, which creates a real suspense.

But this book still feels rather bloated and front-heavy. And, as often is the case with books that feel a couple of hundred pages too long, the ending by comparison is steep and abrupt. It’s almost like Hearn is eager to wrap this saga up – even though it in itself is both moving and true to the storyline. I’ll pick up the fifth book sometime, but probably not for another year or so. I can only hope, it being a prequel, I’ll have less trouble with he who is who that time around. ( )
1 vote GingerbreadMan | Nov 4, 2011 |
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Epigraph
The sound of the Gion Shoja bells echoes the impermanence of all things. 
The colour of the sala flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline.
The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; 
The mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind. 

The Tale of the Heike / Translated by Helen Craig McCullough
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For J
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'Come quickly! Father and Mother are fighting!'
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159887067X, Audio CD)

An epic fantasy set in a mythical, medieval Japan, Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori series has crossed genres, generations, and genders. Grand and complex in its themes, elegantly written, each book in the original trilogy has become a worldwide bestseller. The surprise fourth installment (and real conclusion), The Harsh Cry of the Heron achieves new heights of drama and action.

Sixteen years of peace and prosperity have passed since Lord Otori Takeo united the Three Countries. Takeo and his beloved consort Kaede have three daughters and a happy family life. Their success has attracted the attention of the distant Emperor and his general, the warlord Saga Hideki, who covet the wealth of the Countries. Meanwhile, the violent acts and betrayals of the past will not lie buried, and other secrets will not stay hidden. Everything that Takeo and Kaede have achieved is threatened.

In full ninja versus samurai fashion, Hearn delivers a kinetic, heartbreaking, and uplifting resolution to a thoroughly gripping saga.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:34 -0400)

In a novel set in a land much like feudal Japan, a young boy named Takeo becomes a pawn in the ceaseless battles between rival warlord clans in a culture ruled by codes of honor and formal rituals.

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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