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Harsh Cry of the Heron (Tales of the Otori Series #4)

Harsh Cry of the Heron (Tales of the Otori Series #4)

3.5 8
by Lian Hearn

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The Harsh Cry of the Heron: The Last Tale of the Otori is a truly epic novel. It is the rich and satisfying conclusion to the Tales of the Otori series that both completes the characters' lives-prophesied and otherwise-and brilliantly illuminates unexpected aspects of the entire Otori saga. The Harsh Cry of the Heron is the only fitting end to such a stirring series:


The Harsh Cry of the Heron: The Last Tale of the Otori is a truly epic novel. It is the rich and satisfying conclusion to the Tales of the Otori series that both completes the characters' lives-prophesied and otherwise-and brilliantly illuminates unexpected aspects of the entire Otori saga. The Harsh Cry of the Heron is the only fitting end to such a stirring series: a book that takes the storytelling achievement of Lian Hearn's fantastic medieval Japanese world to startling new heights of drama and action.

Hearn's Otori series is the best (and only) literary expression of a cultural phenomenon that has swept through cinema (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), comics (manga), and popular culture at large. And, with this book, Hearn delivers in full ninja vs. samurai fashion the kinetic, simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting resolution that the Otori's hundreds of thousands of fans richly deserve-whose epic satisfaction will surely draw even more readers into the fold.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
The Harsh Cry of the Heron -- the much-anticipated conclusion to the bestselling Tales of the Otori saga (Across the Nightingale Floor, Grass for His Pillow, and Brilliance of the Moon) -- brings to a close Lian Hearn's epic fantasy chronicle of a feudal Japan replete with murder, myth, martial arts, and magic.

Sixteen years after the events of Brilliance of the Moon, Otori Takeo is sovereign ruler of the Three Countries, and the realm is finally experiencing peace and prosperity. Takeo and his wife, Kaede, have three beautiful daughters -- Shigeko and her younger twin sisters, Maya and Miki -- and Takeo is preparing his heir, Shigeko, for her eventual ascendancy. But threats abound as Takeo struggles to keep the Three Countries at peace: The Emperor is asking for his abdication, assassins are targeting his family, and a holy woman's mysterious prophecy involving Takeo's death from long ago might finally come to fruition.

Blending historical fiction and sword-and-sorcery fantasy with elements from Arthurian legend and Taoist philosophy, Hearn's Tales of the Otori is a beautiful and breathtaking saga. These multilayered, lovingly crafted novels will immerse the reader in a realm of extremes -- brutality and compassion, honor and disgrace, servitude and autonomy, etc. -- where actions (like the slight movement of a hand or the cry of a heron, for example) have a much deeper and sometimes contrary meaning. This novel, in particular, flows like timeless, thought-provoking poetry -- a truly enchanting literary experience. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
Australian writer Gillian Rubinstein, writing as Hearn, concludes her bestselling Otori fantasy epic (Across the Nightingale Floor, etc.) with another magical tale of life and death in feudal Japan. Thanks to his enlightened leadership, 15 years of peace and prosperity have passed since Otori Takeo united the Three Countries, but his enemies continue to plot their revenge-including the Tribe, a ninja-like group of assassins, and the duplicitous Lord Zenko, one of Takeo's retainers. Perhaps the greatest threat, however, is the prophecy of a holy woman that Takeo will die only at his son's hand; his only son, an unacknowledged bastard, is being raised by his sworn enemy Kikuta Akio, the head of a Tribe family. With his beautiful (and legitimate) daughter and heir Shigeko by his side, Takeo must navigate these treacherous shoals to save his lands and his legacy from destruction. Hearn seamlessly fuses fact and fantasy to create a sprawling, bewitching realm of magic. There's enough background in this fourth installment that a new reader will have no problem following along, and fans will be heartened to know that this "Last Tale" will be followed in 2007 by a prequel. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The peace after the long war proves not so peaceful in this surprise fourth installment of Tales of the Otori. Readers had already undergone much emotional turmoil by the end of Brilliance of the Moon (2004), Hearn's supposed conclusion to her epic saga about romantic and dynastic struggles in a country suspiciously like Japan but imbued with actual magic. Yet the series ended all too abruptly once victory had been achieved, making this lengthy coda most welcome. After uniting the long fractious Three Countries, Otori Takeo rules benevolently, as befits his upbringing among The Hidden, a persecuted religious group that practices a neo-Christian faith of kindness and generosity. Although Takeo has officially renounced these beliefs, many of his advisers find him altogether too humane for a strong ruler. Pax Otori has proved beneficial to most residents of the Three Countries, but some malcontents are trying to cause trouble. Particularly fractious are members of The Tribe, a dwindling race possessed of magical powers that finds its usually marketable skills of espionage and assassination less in demand now that Otori has banned torture and refused to handle potential rivals in the usual manner (by killing them). Plots brew from within, mostly fomented by embittered Tribe member Akio, while white foreigners brandishing firearms threaten the borders. Meanwhile, Takeo tries to juggle an impossible number of tasks, from raising his twin daughters (one of whom may have Tribe-like abilities) to limiting the power of foreigners eager to open up trade routes. Previously, the series built inexorably and carefully toward the final cataclysmic confrontation, but here, it all takes too long to getmoving. Only near the end of this overlong narrative do the gears begin to catch. Nonetheless, a good finish to the series that nicely sets the stage for a prequel, due in 2007.

Product Details

Gardners Books
Publication date:
Tales of the Otori Series , #4
Edition description:

Meet the Author

LIAN HEARN was born in England, currently lives in Australia, and has had a lifelong interest in Japan.

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Harsh Cry of the Heron 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finished the first three books in a matter of days, being completely infactuated with the action, characters, skills of the tribe, and the mentality of the warrior class, among other aspects. Unfortunately, Hearn has turned instead to a not-so-exciting book which is almost entirely about intrigue. The book features characters who you think are going to become important later in the plot, and are excited by their appearance, but, to the disappointment of the reader, just fizzle out and disappear. There are also an obsene amount of people killed off for no other apparent reason than that Hearn was merely sick of writing their names. The first 400 pages of the book set up a situation which could have lead to at least another 300 pages of excitement, and then a conclusion. Where Harsh Cry falls short is that instead of this 300 pages, everything is packed into 106 some of this is action, which was nice after 400 pages of boredom. In the last 15 pages of the book, Hearn attempts to conclude what should have been an incredible story, but the reader gets the feeling that with about 5 pages left and lots left to sum up, conclusion is not going to happen smoothly. Instead, the whole book is summed up by a three page letter, a literary device used when an author cannot think of a way out of their own story. All in all, this was a terrible book with only the fact that I am not reading it any longer going for it. Sufice it to say, I will not be picking up the prequel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of the first three books!!!! However this one was sadly dissapointing. Although it is a well written book, it has none of the intimate, epic charm of the others. The story itself is wrapped up way to fast and many side plots are ended to quickly. Many parts of the book seem as if they were written in a hurry and a lot of the characters (very likeable characters!) are dispensed of before they are able to do anything important. The ending to many side stories are left unsaid, like Shizuka's, what happened to Hagi, Hiroshi's, the Tribe's... I am also extremly dissapointed with some of the characters. Kaede was the worst! What happened to the strong, brave personality? She is reduced to a jealous housewife that only cares about having a son and the fact that she has 'cursed' twins. I was really upset that her character was so different. Also, Takeo loses alot of his confidence and becomes way to peaceful to be a strong ruler. He becomes unreasonably so, and that is one of the major factors that leads to his demise. I am also upset at how Shigeko acts at the end of the story. Did she learn anything from her parents? On a whole there were waaayyy to many untimely deaths and problems between characters. To many characters stories were left unsaid. All the characters end up either unhappy, or dead. And the book is generally really depressing at the end. There are many stories that you could say have tragic endings (Shogun is a perfect example) but this one takes it to a whole new level.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
once again, Lian Hearn impress me much. This book is the end of the tales of Otori. I can't wait to finish it up. Hearn take us to the feudal Japan mix with the story of love, passion, destiny, betrayal, and also, the art of fighting and deep philosophy about life and living with the other. Like what uncle ben's spiderman says : great power comes to great responsibilities. That's Takeo has to do with his power that across from sea to sea. excelent!! Bravo Otori, Bravo Takeo, Bravo Hearn!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Over fourteen years have passed since Otori Takeo defeated his enemies and united the Three Countries. Prosperity and harmony are everywhere, but underneath the surface calm, Takeo¿s foes rage as they treacherously plan to avenge their previous defeat. Kikuta Akio and his assassin, followers of the Tribe, want a return to their notorious past that Takeo stopped his brother-in-law Lord Zenko wants to usurp power the Emperor wants to end Takeo¿s independence by dispatching deadly warlord Saga to do whatever it takes and finally the seer prophesizes that his unrecognized illegitimate son will one day kill him. Akio raises Takeo¿s teenage son Hisao by training the lad to hate his father. Takeo has never told his beloved wife Kaede that he has one more offspring from a previous relationship instead they raise their daughters in love with Shigeko being his acknowledged heir. To reconcile with the emperor, keep his family safe, and to insure Shigeko inherits his legacy and rule, he offers to Saga his daughter in marriage as he knows the forces of military, assassins, and magical destiny will soon converge on him. --- The forth Otori tale is a terrific historical Feudal Japan thriller with some fantasy elements. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action. However, it is the cast that makes the tale and the full saga is one of the best of the decade as the audience obtains a taste of political maneuvering to survive. Readers will want to read the quartet, but also know that THE HARSH CRY OF THE HERON can stand alone, a tribute to Lian Hearn¿s talent. --- Harriet Klausner