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The Harsh Cry of the Heron (2006)

by Lian Hearn

Series: Tales of the Otori (4)

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1,4672611,744 (3.77)46
A conclusion to the Tales of the Otori series brings the conflicts of its medieval Japanese characters full circle.

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English (23)  French (3)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
As I picked up this book to read, I was certain that I had not only read but enjoyed an earlier book in this series. Now having read it, I'm not so certain.[return][return]Based in a fictionalised far east - either Japan or China - this tells of Takeo and his attempt to keep control of his domain. Any supernatural undercurrent, which I vaguely remember being much more in the forefront in any previous book - is underplayed to virtual non-existence. For a book of over 600 pages, not a lot actually happens. There's some travelling, some deaths, some politics, some angst, a giraffe (called a "Kirin" in the book), and lots and lots and lots of "do you remember he did this, and she was his ally until he did this, and then she became your ally, but can you really trust either of them?". When a good proportion of a book has to remind the reader what happened in previous books, then both the reader and writer are in trouble:- either the previous stories were too complicated, or the current book is not good enough to stand up on it's own in the series.[return][return]The characters were also too confusing. I have read several far eastern books before and have had little trouble with names (not something that I can say about Russian books!), but this book took me far too long to work out who was who, and even what sex they were. Overall disappointing ( )
  nordie | Apr 18, 2022 |
I'll try do do this without spoilers, though the major flaws in this book are storytelling and plot.

There were ominous overtones early on, so I decided I was OK if everything just fell apart, after all, that is how the Heiki Monogatari ends. I'm not saying it ends that way, but I was prepared.

I was not prepared for it to be boring and confusing. People head out to various places for various reasons and if you don't already know where Hagi and Hofu are in relation to each other, too bad, because there is no map. I got pretty tired of getting a recitation about each entering character: parents, aunts, and uncles and who had killed whom.

The oddest thing is how passive Takeo is throughout the book. He follows advice and occasionally paints birds. Things happen to him, he doesn't make things happen. He does initiate a couple of things at the end, one is a failure and one resolves some foreshadowing from the whole series. Other characters don't really do much either. Most of them have decided what they are going to do before the book starts, and then they do it. A couple of the women kinda go crazy, which seems terribly out of character for both of them, though at least they do something.

Mostly, characters are moved around by the Will of Heaven, or perhaps the Hand of the Author. One character does take initiative and change things, and that is an animal. By the end of the book, I think I liked the horses better than any of the people.

Unless you feel a real need to read this book, stop after the first three.
( )
  wunder | Feb 3, 2022 |
This was really depressing. Takeo and Kaede have been ruling in relative peace for sixteen years, but now everything falls apart. I really couldn't like them very much. Kaede dislikes and fears her daughters just because they are twins which turns one into the monster she is expected to be, Takeo has kept his son a secret from his wife all this time, with tragic consequences, and he's horrible to someone he should care for. They just aren't the generally nice people I remembered. ( )
  Griffin22 | Jul 27, 2020 |
To read more reviews like this, check out my blog keikii eats books!

55 points, 3 stars

“...What does the blessing of heaven mean? We know the kirin is just an animal, not a mythical creature."
"It has become a symbol now.... That is the way human beings deal with the world.”

Wow, I didn't particularly care for the previous book but that was personal preference. But this one... This one I really did not like my experience reading The Harsh Cry of the Heron. It was so boring. And long. AND BORING. Lian Hearn described everything in too much detail. Superfluous detail even. And there were so many characters we switched perspectives to. Even when they added nothing new to the story and had nothing going on in the moment.

And there was just so much that was repeated throughout the course of the book. I lost count of the amount of times the same thing happened. Or they said something was going to happen. Part of the blame rests in the amount of narration switches. But part of it is just the fault of the author repeating herself for the sake of repetition.

And have I said this was boring? Just so little happened throughout the book. The other books were slow and didn't have a lot happening in them. This was just a slog. I'm genuinely unsure how I made it to the end.

And the end was really, really not worth it. If you have read the preceding trilogy, you know how it is going to end. But you don't know what is going to happen for that ending to occur. You don't know how it is going to play out. And that is what I have so many issues with. I hated it. You aren't meant to see what happens after the fairy tale ending. Takeo and Kaede had their fairy tale ending in the previous book. I'm sad to have read this. ( )
  keikii | Jan 23, 2020 |
Disappointing after the first four books of the Otori series. From the start, this book seemed darker and my expectation was of disaster. It seemed like the author had a life change after writing the first 4 books and was in a more depressed, less optimistic, hopeful mood and the book reflected that. Not that a happy ending is mandatory for me, but rather a better rendering of the character's lives that fits the past books. This book seemed out of character for how this world was in the earlier stories and less interesting. Previously I could hardly put the books down. With this book it was almost drudgery to finish it. ( )
  ZachMontana | Jan 20, 2019 |
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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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'Come quickly! Father and Mother are fighting!'
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A conclusion to the Tales of the Otori series brings the conflicts of its medieval Japanese characters full circle.

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Average: (3.77)
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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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