Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori Series #1, Episode 1)

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Seventeen-year-old Tomasu lives in a remote mountain village,some of whose residents—including his mother—are members of the Hidden, a clandestine, peaceful religious sect. He has never met his father. One day, while Tomasu is out collecting mushrooms, a band of Tohan warriors descends upon and massacres the village. Tomasu confronts the warriors, but is rescued by the mysterious Lord Otori, who changes the boy's name to Takeo, and wants to adopt him. As Takeo learns to read, and to fight with sword and pole, on ...
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Across the Nightingale Floor: Tales of the Otori Book One

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Seventeen-year-old Tomasu lives in a remote mountain village,some of whose residents—including his mother—are members of the Hidden, a clandestine, peaceful religious sect. He has never met his father. One day, while Tomasu is out collecting mushrooms, a band of Tohan warriors descends upon and massacres the village. Tomasu confronts the warriors, but is rescued by the mysterious Lord Otori, who changes the boy's name to Takeo, and wants to adopt him. As Takeo learns to read, and to fight with sword and pole, on and off horseback, he does not realize that he is the center of a bloody intrigue . . . until it is almost too late.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Reading like a cross between Frank Herbert's Dune and the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this intrigue-soaked, magic-realist tale is likely to appeal to readers who enjoy experiencing an original world unfold with each new chapter. Those who have read and reread Tolkien will blissfully turn these pages and find themselves missing appointments.

Set in a long-ago world resembling medieval Japan, where warring clans brutally battle it out while the nobility plots political marriages, the action starts almost immediately. Bodies are piling up by the third page, as teenage Takeo witnesses a massacre in his previously peaceful village. He seems to be writing his own ticket to the grave when he knocks an evil warlord from his horse. The boy is saved, though, by Lord Otori, who introduces Takeo to his clan -- hence the subtitle, Tales of the Otori.

Across the Nightingale Floor seems straightforward enough at first, but in Hearn's world, there are plots within plots, schemes within schemes, and skillfully interwoven elements of fantasy. The author does some neat narrative juggling by alternating chapters between Takeo's first-person odyssey and the you-go-girl, third-person story of the Cinderella-like Kaede. Romance is neatly combined with adventure, and it seems likely that any reader arriving at the close of this story will readily pick up the next volume in the series. Lou Harry

Publishing News
It has a magical quality and the power of the story is truly awesome.
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. (Sept. 2) Forecast: With movie rights sold to Universal Studios and foreign rights sold in 11 countries, this one seems a sure bet for genre bestseller lists. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
This first book gives the series both a promising start and a satisfyingly complete first episode. The story of teens Takeo and Kaede unfolds in an imaginary world inspired by medieval Japan and medieval China. Takeo's ancestry is connected to a sect known as "the Hidden," but he loses his family in a horrific invasion. Soon thereafter, he is able to defend himself and wreak a degree of vengeance as he severs the heads and arms of two of the marauders. That act will bring his own execution, of course, if he is caught, but fortunately a young lord, Otori Shigeru, saves him. Meanwhile, Kaede's childhood ends when her body matures and men in her household make a play for her sexually. The first two such incidents happen to end in death for the men, giving Kaede a reputation that makes it difficult for her lord to find her a willing suitor. She and Takeo meet when she becomes engaged to Shigeru, a political arrangement intended to unite tribes against a common enemy. Takeo is perceptive in the extreme, able to hear the most muffled voices distinctly, and to cross silently a floor built expressly to "sing" and thereby give warning of any approach. Shigeru plans to use these skills of his newly adopted son to ward off their enemies. A balance of intrigue, romance, and daily life's cultural idiosyncrasies keep this fantasy moving quickly and compellingly. Readers of historical fiction will find this an easy bridge to fantasy, and vice versa. (Tales of the Otori, Book One).. KLIATT Codes: JSA;Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Penguin Putnam, Riverhead, 305p.,
— Francisca Goldsmith
Library Journal
Born as one of the Hidden, a pacifistic group opposed to any sort of violence, Takeo meets brutality head-on when a local warlord destroys his villages and murders his family. Rescued by a rival warlord, Takeo becomes the adopted son of Lord Shigeru and learns of his true heritage as one of the Tribe, a clan of assassins with supernatural powers. When his adopted father becomes the victim of treachery, Takeo faces a choice between loyalty to his past and to his new and perilous future. This first novel, a series opener, brings a fantasy Japan to vivid life with a minimum of frills. A good addition to most fantasy collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/02.] Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Fleeing the slaughter of his village and pursued by Lord Iidu's warriors, Tomasu, 16, expects to die. Raised among the Hidden, he is forbidden to kill and is expected to forgive his enemies, tenets he sets aside in favor of revenge. When Otori Shigeru steps into his path, Tomasu thinks the worst; instead Shigeru kills one pursuer and seriously wounds another. Given the name Takeo by Shigeru, the grieving teen gives up speaking for a time and finds that his hearing becomes preternaturally sharp. Other strange abilities manifest themselves as well, marking him as a member of the Tribe, five families resembling ninjas. Shigeru also desires revenge upon Iidu for the loss of much of the Otori ancestral lands and the death of his younger brother. Takeo allies himself with Shigeru and accepts formal adoption. Meanwhile, Lady Shirakawa Kaede, tarnished with a reputation for bringing death to men, is contracted to marry Shigeru. These story lines converge just as Takeo's life begins to fly apart. His situation is complicated, and his unique talents and background mark him as a hero of epic proportions. Although much about this tale seems to place it in feudal Japan, Hearn states that this is an imaginary country. In this riveting first entry in a trilogy, all major characters are introduced and the various conflicts defined, but readers will have to wait for future volumes to reach the final resolution. This book should be popular with many readers, not just those who admire well-written and intriguing fantasy.-Jody Sharp, Harford County Public Library, MD Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Mythical medieval Japan never seemed so attractive as in this breezy epic, the first in a trilogy, about a boy with strange powers who gets caught up in a long-simmering inter-clan conflict. The village is doomed, but British-born newcomer Hearn still makes you care about it and its inhabitants. In a preface, he admits using "echoes of Japanese customs and traditions" as he sets his action in a resolutely imaginary country where warring clans battle for supremacy. The village in question is in Dairyo country, ruled by Iida Sadamu, a devil in warrior's garb, and many of the villagers belong to a secretive, Christian-like cult called The Hidden, which has aroused Iida's wrath with its subversive talk of kindness. When Iida shows up to destroy the village, 16-year-old Takeo is wandering in the hills, though even then he would have been killed by Iida's soldiers if it hadn't been for the fortunate appearance of Shigeru, a lord of the Dairyo's rival clan, the Otori, who was doing some wandering of his own and demonstrated his handy way with a sword. Shigeru spirits the traumatized boy back to Otori lands and adopts him after noting a strong resemblance between Takeo and his own late brother. It's also revealed that Takeo is a member of an ancient clan of pseudo-magical beings with sorcerous ninja-like powers-useful during an assassination attempt on Shigeru. A secondary storyline follows 15-year-old Kaeda, who, since childhood, has been held hostage by an overlord who wants to keep her father, a less powerful lord, in check. Once a marriage is arranged for her to help cement a political alliance, her path and Takeo's wind closer and closer together in a complex plot that Hearn carries usthrough with the greatest of ease. What could have been a Shogun-like exercise in bloat becomes a rousingly muscular piece of romantic adventure, replete with shadowy assassins, fluttering battle flags, and doomed love. Film rights to Universal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142403242
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/5/2005
  • Series: Tales of the Otori Series , #1
  • Edition description: Series #1, Episode 1
  • Pages: 276
  • Age range: 12 - 16 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.24 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.47 (d)

First Chapter


My mother used to threaten to tear me into eight pieces if I knocked over the water bucket, or pretended not to hear her calling me to come home as the dusk thickened and the cicadas' shrilling increased. I would hear her voice, rough and fierce, echoing through the lonely valley. "Where's that wretched boy? I'll tear him apart when he gets back."

But when I did get back, muddy from sliding down the hillside, bruised from fighting, once bleeding great spouts of blood from a stone wound to the head (I still have the scar, like a silvered thumbnail), there would be the fire, and the smell of soup, and my mother's arms not tearing me apart but trying to hold me, clean my face, or straighten my hair, while I twisted like a lizard to get away from her. She was strong from endless hard work, and not old: She'd given birth to me before she was seventeen, and when she held me I could see we had the same skin, although in other ways we were not much alike, she having broad, placid features, while mine, I'd been told (for we had no mirrors in the remote mountain village of Mino), were finer, like a hawk's. The wrestling usually ended with her winning, her prize being the hug I could not escape from. And her voice would whisper in my ears the words of blessing of the Hidden, while my stepfather grumbled mildly that she spoiled me, and the little girls, my half-sisters, jumped around us for their share of the hug and the blessing.

So I thought it was a manner of speaking. Mino was a peaceful place, too isolated to be touched by the savage battles of the clans. I had never imagined men and women could actually be torn into eight pieces, their strong, honey-colored limbs wrenched from their sockets and thrown down to the waiting dogs. Raised among the Hidden, with all their gentleness, I did not know men did such things to each other.

I turned fifteen and my mother began to lose our wrestling matches. I grew six inches in a year, and by the time I was sixteen I was taller than my stepfather. He grumbled more often, that I should settle down, stop roaming the mountain like a wild monkey, marry into one of the village families. I did not mind the idea of marriage to one of the girls I'd grown up with, and that summer I worked harder alongside him, ready to take my place among the men of the village. But every now and then I could not resist the lure of the mountain, and at the end of the day I slipped away, through the bamboo grove with its tall, smooth trunks and green slanting light, up the rocky path past the shrine of the mountain god, where the villagers left offerings of millet and oranges, into the forest of birch and cedar, where the cuckoo and the nightingale called enticingly, where I watched foxes and deer and heard the melancholy cry of kites overhead.

That evening I'd been right over the mountain to a place where the best mushrooms grew. I had a cloth full of them, the little white ones like threads, and the dark orange ones like fans. I was thinking how pleased my mother would be, and how the mushrooms would still my stepfather's scolding. I could already taste them on my tongue. As I ran through the bamboo and out into the rice fields where the red autumn lilies were already in flower, I thought I could smell cooking on the wind.

The village dogs were barking, as they often did at the end of the day. The smell grew stronger and turned acrid. I was not frightened, not then, but some premonition made my heart start to beat more quickly. There was a fire ahead of me.

Fires often broke out in the village: Almost everything we owned was made of wood or straw. But I could hear no shouting, no sounds of the buckets being passed from hand to hand, none of the usual cries and curses. The cicadas shrilled as loudly as ever; frogs were calling from the paddies. In the distance thunder echoed round the mountains. The air was heavy and humid.

I was sweating, but the sweat was turning cold on my forehead. I jumped across the ditch of the last terraced field and looked down to where my home had always been. The house was gone.

I went closer. Flames still crept and licked at the blackened beams. There was no sign of my mother or my sisters. I tried to call out, but my tongue had suddenly become too big for my mouth, and the smoke was choking me and making my eyes stream. The whole village was on fire, but where was everyone?

Then the screaming began.

It came from the direction of the shrine, around which most of the houses clustered. It was like the sound of a dog howling in pain, except the dog could speak human words, scream them in agony. I thought I recognized the prayers of the Hidden, and all the hair stood up on my neck and arms. Slipping like a ghost between the burning houses, I went towards the sound.

The village was deserted. I could not imagine where everyone had gone. I told myself they had run away: My mother had taken my sisters to the safety of the forest. I would go and find them just as soon as I had found out who was screaming. But as I stepped out of the alley into the main street I saw two men lying on the ground. A soft evening rain was beginning to fall and they looked surprised, as though they had no idea why they were lying there in the rain. They would never get up again, and it did not matter that their clothes were getting wet.

One of them was my stepfather.

At that moment the world changed for me. A kind of fog rose before my eyes, and when it cleared nothing seemed real. I felt I had crossed over to the other world, the one that lies alongside our own, that we visit in dreams. My stepfather was wearing his best clothes. The indigo cloth was dark with rain and blood. I was sorry they were spoiled: He had been so proud of them.

I stepped past the bodies, through the gates and into the shrine. The rain was cool on my face. The screaming stopped abruptly.

Inside the grounds were men I did not know. They looked as if they were carrying out some ritual for a festival. They had cloths tied round their heads; they had taken off their jackets and their arms gleamed with sweat and rain. They were panting and grunting, grinning with white teeth, as though killing were as hard work as bringing in the rice harvest.

Water trickled from the cistern where you washed your hands and mouth to purify yourself on entering the shrine. Earlier, when the world was normal, someone must have lit incense in the great cauldron. The last of it drifted across the courtyard, masking the bitter smell of blood and death.

The man who had been torn apart lay on the wet stones. I could just make out the features on the severed head. It was Isao, the leader of the Hidden. His mouth was still open, frozen in a last contortion of pain.

The murderers had left their jackets in a neat pile against a pillar. I could see clearly the crest of the triple oak leaf. These were Tohan men, from the clan capital of Inuyama. I remembered a traveler who had passed through the village at the end of the seventh month. He'd stayed the night at our house, and when my mother had prayed before the meal, he had tried to silence her. "Don't you know that the Tohan hate the Hidden and plan to move against us? Lord Iida has vowed to wipe us out," he whispered. My parents had gone to Isao the next day to tell him, but no one had believed them. We were far from the capital, and the power struggles of the clans had never concerned us. In our village the Hidden lived alongside everyone else, looking the same, acting the same, except for our prayers. Why would anyone want to harm us? It seemed unthinkable.

And so it still seemed to me as I stood frozen by the cistern. The water trickled and trickled, and I wanted to take some and wipe the blood from Isao's face and gently close his mouth, but I could not move. I knew at any moment the men from the Tohan clan would turn, and their gaze would fall on me, and they would tear me apart. They would have neither pity nor mercy. They were already polluted by death, having killed a man within the shrine itself.

In the distance I could hear with acute clarity the drumming sound of a galloping horse. As the hoofbeats drew nearer I had the sense of forward memory that comes to you in dreams. I knew who I was going to see, framed between the shrine gates. I had never seen him before in my life, but my mother had held him up to us as a sort of ogre with which to frighten us into obedience: Don't stray on the mountain, don't play by the river, or Iida will get you! I recognized him at once. Iida Sadamu, lord of the Tohan.

The horse reared and whinnied at the smell of blood. Iida sat as still as if he were cast in iron. He was clad from head to foot in black armor, his helmet crowned with antlers. He wore a short black beard beneath his cruel mouth. His eyes were bright, like a man hunting deer.

Those bright eyes met mine. I knew at once two things about him: first, that he was afraid of nothing in heaven or on earth; second, that he loved to kill for the sake of killing. Now that he had seen me, there was no hope.

His sword was in his hand. The only thing that saved me was the horse's reluctance to pass beneath the gate. It reared again, prancing backwards. Iida shouted. The men already inside the shrine turned and saw me, crying out in their rough Tohan accents. I grabbed the last of the incense, hardly noticing as it seared my hand, and ran out through the gates. As the horse shied towards me I thrust the incense against its flank. It reared over me, its huge feet flailing past my cheeks. I heard the hiss of the sword descending through the air. I was aware of the Tohan all around me. It did not seem possible that they could miss me, but I felt as if I had split in two. I saw Iida's sword fall on me, yet I was untouched by it. I lunged at the horse again. It gave a snort of pain and a savage series of bucks. Iida, unbalanced by the sword thrust that had somehow missed its target, fell forward over its neck and slid heavily to the ground.

Horror gripped me, and in its wake panic. I had unhorsed the lord of the Tohan. There would be no limit to the torture and pain to atone for such an act. I should have thrown myself to the ground and demanded death. But I knew I did not want to die. Something stirred in my blood, telling me I would not die before Iida. I would see him dead first.

I knew nothing of the wars of the clans, nothing of their rigid codes and their feuds. I had spent my whole life among the Hidden, who are forbidden to kill and taught to forgive each other. But at that moment Revenge took me as a pupil. I recognized her at once and learned her lessons instantly. She was what I desired; she would save me from the feeling that I was a living ghost. In that split second I took her into my heart. I kicked out at the man closest to me, getting him between the legs, sank my teeth into a hand that grabbed my wrist, broke away from them, and ran towards the forest.

Three of them came after me. They were bigger than I was and could run faster, but I knew the ground, and darkness was falling. So was the rain, heavier now, making the steep tracks of the mountain slippery and treacherous. Two of the men kept calling out to me, telling me what they would take great pleasure in doing to me, swearing at me in words whose meaning I could only guess, but the third ran silently, and he was the one I was afraid of. The other two might turn back after a while, get back to their maize liquor or whatever foul brew the Tohan got drunk on, and claim to have lost me on the mountain, but this other one would never give up. He would pursue me forever until he had killed me.

As the track steepened near the waterfall the two noisy ones dropped back a bit, but the third quickened his pace as an animal will when it runs uphill. We passed by the shrine; a bird was pecking at the millet and it flew off with a flash of green and white in its wings. The track curved a little round the trunk of a huge cedar, and as I ran with stone legs and sobbing breath past the tree, someone rose out of its shadow and blocked the path in front of me.

I ran straight into him. He grunted as though I had winded him, but he held me immediately. He looked in my face and I saw something flicker in his eyes: surprise, recognition. Whatever it was, it made him grip me more tightly. There was no getting away this time. I heard the Tohan man stop, then the heavy footfalls of the other two coming up behind him.

"Excuse me, sir," said the man I feared, his voice steady. "You have apprehended the criminal we were chasing. Thank you."

The man holding me turned me round to face my pursuers. I wanted to cry out to him, to plead with him, but I knew it was no use. I could feel the soft fabric of his clothes, the smoothness of his hands. He was some sort of lord, no doubt, just like Iida. They were all of the same cut. He would do nothing to help me. I kept silent, thought of the prayers my mother had taught me, thought fleetingly of the bird.

"What has this criminal done?" the lord asked.

The man in front of me had a long face, like a wolf's. "Excuse me," he said again, less politely. "That is no concern of yours. It is purely the business of Iida Sadamu and the Tohan."

"Unnh!" the lord grunted. "Is that so? And who might you be to tell me what is and what is not my concern?"

"Just hand him over!" the wolf man snarled, all politeness gone. As he stepped forward, I knew suddenly that the lord was not going to hand me over. With one neat movement he twisted me behind his back and let go of me. I heard for the second time in my life the hiss of the warrior's sword as it is brought to life. The wolf man drew out a knife. The other two had poles. The lord raised the sword with both hands, sidestepped under one of the poles, lopped off the head of the man holding it, came back at the wolf man, and took off the right arm, still holding the knife.

It happened in a moment, yet took an eternity. It happened in the last of the light, in the rain, but when I close my eyes I can still see every detail.

The headless body fell with a thud and a gush of blood, the head rolling down the slope. The third man dropped his stick and ran backwards, calling for help. The wolf man was on his knees, trying to stanch the blood from the stump at his elbow. He did not groan or speak.

The lord wiped the sword and returned it to its sheath in his belt. "Come on," he said to me.

I stood shaking, unable to move. This man had appeared from nowhere. He had killed in front of my eyes to save my life. I dropped to the ground before him, trying to find the words to thank him.

"Get up," he said. "The rest of them will be after us in a moment."

"I can't leave," I managed to say. "I must find my mother."

"Not now. Now is the time for us to run!" He pulled me to my feet, and began to hurry me up the slope.

"What happened down there?"

"They burned the village and killed..." The memory of my stepfather came back to me and I could not go on.


"Yes," I whispered.

"It's happening all over the province. Iida is stirring up hatred against them everywhere. I suppose you're one of them?"

"Yes." I was shivering. Although it was still late summer and the rain was warm, I had never felt so cold. "But that wasn't only why they were after me. I caused Lord Iida to fall from his horse."

To my amazement the lord began to snort with laughter. "That would have been worth seeing! But it places you doubly in danger. It's an insult he'll have to wipe out. Still, you are under my protection now. I won't let Iida take you from me."

"You saved my life," I said. "It belongs to you from this day on."

For some reason that made him laugh again. "We have a long walk, on empty stomachs and with wet garments. We must be over the range before daybreak, when they will come after us." He strode off at great speed, and I ran after him, willing my legs not to shake, my teeth not to chatter. I didn't even know his name, but I wanted him to be proud of me, never to regret that he had saved my life.

"I am Otori Shigeru," he said as we began the climb to the pass. "Of the Otori clan, from Hagi. But while I'm on the road I don't use that name, so don't you use it either."

Hagi was as distant as the moon to me, and although I had heard of the Otori, I knew nothing about them except that they had been defeated by the Tohan at a great battle ten years earlier on the plain of Yaegahara.

"What's your name, boy?"


"That's a common name among the Hidden. Better get rid of it." He said nothing for a while, and then spoke briefly out of the darkness. "You can be called Takeo."

And so between the waterfall and the top of the mountain I lost my name, became someone new, and joined my destiny with the Otori.

—from Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn, Copyright © September 2002, Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 107 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 107 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 10, 2009

    Vidid Without Being overly Anime

    The swords and special abilities were NOT the dominating elements of the story.
    Characters were fleshed out to the point where i had no lingering questions about them at the end of the tale.
    The story was compelling! I was zipping through the descriptions of places trying to hurry and get to "the good stuff" ha ha ha! Had to slow down a bit because at times i thought i should envision what the author was crafting. Especially in this book we are often in the same shoes as the main character regarding parts of the environment that he cannot see.

    I IMMEDIATELY bought book number 2 (which sadly is not available through B&N as an eBook - ludicrous!).

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    An Excellent Series

    The Tales of the Otori series is an outstanding blend of action, drama, forbidden love, and stirring fantasy. To see the gifted Takeo rise to his destiny throughout these stories has been the equivalent of being there alongside him. Lian Hearn masterfully weaves together a story of a hero with exceptional abilities that is attempting to discover his own destiny rather than succumb to those being thrust upon him by Secret societies and Powerful warlords. Within the story is also the forbidden love of the Princess Kaede and Takeo as they both endure so much in their hope of being together. This intriguing story, set in the ancient beauty of the east, has easily won my praise and it will always remain to be one of the greatest series' I've ever read.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    An excellent Japanese fantasy for Westerners

    Over the years, the legend "A New York Times notable book" on the cover of any book has guaranteed a small but devoted following. "Across the Nightingale Floor" is the first fantasy of any kind I can remember since the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy that deserves that label, although I don't think the Times had developed such a list in Tolkien's era. <BR/><BR/>In an author's note prefacing this book, Lian Hearn explicitly states that this story is set in "an imaginary country". If it isn't feudal Japan, it's the closest thing possible, and despite the indication in the author's note I prefer to assume that it is Japan. <BR/><BR/>The story reminds me in some ways of the plots and themes of some of Kurosawa's films. The main plot and the various sub-plots are far too involved to go into here. Suffice it to say that this is a book that is well worth your time if you are a lover of fantasy or of things Oriental, and if this is any indication of Hearn's talent I look forward to the next book in the series. <BR/><BR/>There does seem to be a mystery of sorts surrounding the author. I went to the websites mentioned in the book ( and, and what little those sites told about the author has me very intrigued. I'm not even sure whether Hearn is a man or a woman, but I do know that s/he has a great deal of talent. Hopefully this is not the last I will hear about the Otori.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2006

    Not so great

    I was talking with a friend at my dojo about books and he recommended this one. I thought, 'Cool! Samurai, ninja, feudal Japan, I'll love it.' Turns out, I didn't really like it. About half-way through, I stopped caring about the characters, the story, and Hearn's fake Japan. There is so much rich history and potential for storytelling in the real historical Japan, I can only assume that he didn't want to make the effort of researching it. If you want to read about samurai, ninjas, and learn something about Japan (and good writing), then pick up Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka. You won't be able to put it down.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2006

    Really Fun Read

    I just loved reading this book, which I did in a day. It is excellent fantasy. I just wish I came accross series like this more often.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2005


    Its one of those books that just suck you in. I would reccomend this book to anyone, young or old. I bought book 2 half way through reading Across The Nightingale Floor. This book has everything!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2005

    Fantastic Storytelling

    This book is the perfect beginning to an epic trilogy. Hearn manages to create powerful imagery that revives the strongest elements that the average person knows of fuedal Japan, and puts a unique twist on them. Filled with characters filling the classes of peasants, Samurai, Geisha's and Ninja, there is excitement throughout the entire book. The strongest book in the series, it will not disappoint.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2004

    They way a book should be written

    This book has it all; suspense, action, love, drama, intrigue, deception. I loved this book. I would recommend this to everyone, men and women, young and old. It's not just a chick-flick type book or a summer or beach read. I will let my son read it when he gets a little older, he's 12 now so in a year or two.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2004

    Intrigue, Love, Death, Supernatural Powers

    I picked this book up in the bargain bin as well and bought it because the jacket has a quote that compelled me, 'just as the river is always at the door, so is the world always outside'. This is an excellent book. It is written beautifully but the language isn't too elaborate that it becomes cumbersome or difficult to read. I would recommend this book to both male and female readers. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2003

    Light on the Fantasy part, but an excellent story.

    What a great book! I'm so pleased to have discovered a new Sci-Fi Fantasy author. If you're into the heavy version of the Fantasy genre, this book may not be for you, as there's not a lot of fantasy, but there's enough that it can't be classified as just fiction. I'd say it's rather like a King Arthur novel in that sense. The story is set in feudal Japan, but there's not much historical background in the book. There really doesn't need to be, as the story could have been set in feudal anywhere, but some of the details work best in Japan (such as the Nightingale Floor). Our hero, Takeo, is found living quietly in a remote mountain village. After the villagers are massacred by Lord Iida`s men, Takeo (Tomasu at this point) meets up with Shigeru, Lord of the Otori clan. Takeo goes to live with Shigeru, takes lessons in many subjects (including writing, art and swordplay among other things), learns of his true background and the abilities he has because of his background, and is eventually adopted by Shigeru as his heir. In the meantime, a lovely young woman named Kaede is being held by Lord Noguchi as a hostage. She is being treated badly, even though she is nobility. Noguchi is allied with Lord Iida, the most evil guy around. Eventually, Noguchi decides that Kaede would be most useful as a pawn and she is betrothed to Shigeru. Sadly, Shigeru is in love with Lady Maruyama. It¿s a nice underlying love story to go with the adventure. Takeo, it turns out, is a member of the Tribe. The Tribe has magical abilities that are passed on genetically. Takeo¿s father was of the Tribe. In Takeo, the powers are strong (Does this surprise anyone? If they were weak, we probably wouldn¿t have much of a story¿Luke I am your Father¿but I digress). The Tribe¿s abilities include super hearing, invisibility, and splitting into two, among other things. Everyone in the story seems to feel that all the world¿s problems would be solved if only Lord Iida were dead. Trouble is that he¿s quite powerful and pretty paranoid. He¿s had a Nightingale Floor built in his quarters. The floor has been built to be extra squeaky, so that no one can walk across it without making noise. But, perhaps Takeo, with his magical abilities can take care of this for us¿ All in all, I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the two sequels.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2003

    Excellent idea but....

    Ok first off i am gonna say that i did enjoy this book though it was an excellent plot and good use of characters but i thought the book should of been longer. I would of liked for them to of gone into more detail of his training, the political game that was being played, and even somef the story told from Arai's, Lord Otori's, and Iida's point of view. I guess I just didn't think it was complex enough but that is to to say I didn't enjoy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2012

    This book is amazing!

    This book is the kind of book that you cant put down

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012


    I couldn't put it down I loved itso much. I definatley recomend this book to anyone that loves great characters, amazing storylines, and characters you wish you could drag from the book and hit yourself!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Its a Great Series. But.

    I would not pay the 12.99 it took to get it. I paid 13.99 for Inheritance, when it first came out. Which contains nearly 700 pages. This book only contained 227. Not worth the 12.99, that I could have spent something else. Sorry.

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  • Posted August 8, 2011

    Love it

    Just enough romance, action, philosophy,and japanses culture! A must read!!

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A book to fall in love with

    The Nightingale Floor
    A book to fall in love with. Kateo travels to the capital with Shigeru, knowing they could be both going to their deaths. Loyalties, allegiances and loves all change destiny's in this book. Shigeru is murdered and his wife to be believed to be cursed. Shigeru's true love takes her own life and the lives of her children, while Kateo and Kaede are able to finally reveal their depths for each other only to be torn apart again. The characters are beautifully developed and the scenes come alive with each turn of the page. This should be the second book in the series, can't wait to read the rest. A

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  • Posted March 19, 2011

    A great Japanese story

    I stumbled across book 5 in the discount section of my local BN and found the story a wonderful blend of fiction wrapped with a factual representation of early Japanese society.

    The book's main characters are credible, dynamic, and engaging. The story has a complex message of honor and righteousness with espionage, intrigue, and sinister planning. I found the ending of this book shocking and very much disappointing as the characters futures (positioned nicely for book 2 which I downloaded already) traveling in directions I myself didn't want them to go.

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  • Posted February 23, 2011

    An Interesting Perspective of an Eastern World

    Across the Nightingale Floor has a strong start, as we see Takeo's world fall to pieces and all that he knew vanish at the swipe of a sword. The actions of Lord Shigeru and the merciless Iida propels Takeo on a journey among rivaling clans. At the same time of these events, readers are also introduced to Kaede. A fifteen year old girl of nobility, that is being held hostage as a pawn in a large political fight over a clan alliance. Through the guiding force of fate, these two eventually cross paths. The end result makes for an interesting novel. The setting is loosely based off of feudal Japan which provides western readers an interesting insight to asian customs and culture. The author (Lian Hearn) spares no expense in her endeavor to create a realistic feel to the novel. Even the names in this novel have asian influences. As a result this book would not be recommended for people that forget or lose track of what name matches up with the character; as there are many similar looking names in the novel. Hearn's presentation of asian culture is refreshing and adds a certain foreign appeal to the novel as a whole. From reading, one can see that attention to detail not only assists the characters in the novel, but can also be applied to their own lives for their benefit. In all Hearn has created a riveting novel which can be added to her collection of four other works such as Grass for His Pillow.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    Opening To a Captivating World!

    This book was amazing. It was the second time that I read it and I was still shocked by the plot!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2008

    A reviewer

    This was a great fantasy book that blurs the line separating reality from great fiction in a way that reminded me of martial arts films: very fantastical, very action-oriented. Like most good fantasy and sci fi books it is a coming of age story and the character really develops. It is not historically accurate, but develops some themes I have encountered in other Japanese movies and books in an unusual way. I ordered the first book in the series online and had to order the others after I finished this one--I could barely wait for the others to arrive. I am trying to read the series for the third time but I have recently moved and misplaced this first one!

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