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The Harsh Cry of the Heron: The Last Tale of the Otori

The Harsh Cry of the Heron: The Last Tale of the Otori

4.7 13
by Lian Hearn

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The Harsh Cry of the Heron is the fourth book in the Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hearn. Don't miss the related series, The Tale of Shikanoko.

A dazzling epic of warfare and sacrifice, passionate revenge, treacherous betrayal, and unconquerable love, The Harsh Cry of the Heron takes the


The Harsh Cry of the Heron is the fourth book in the Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hearn. Don't miss the related series, The Tale of Shikanoko.

A dazzling epic of warfare and sacrifice, passionate revenge, treacherous betrayal, and unconquerable love, The Harsh Cry of the Heron takes the storytelling achievement of Lian Hearn's fantastic medieval Japanese world to startling new heights of drama and action. Fifteen years of peace and prosperity under the rule of Lord Otori Takeo and his wife Kaede is threatened by a rogue network of assassins, the resurgence of old rivalries, the arrival of foreigners bearing new weapons and religion, and an unfulfilled prophecy that Lord Takeo will die at the hand of a member of his own family.

The Harsh Cry of the Heron is the rich and stirring finale to a series whose imaginative vision has enthralled millions of readers worldwide, and an extraordinary novel that stands as a thrilling achievement in its own right.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Tales of the Otori Series
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
840 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Lian Hearn is the pseudonym for the writer Gillian Rubinstein, currently living in Australia, who has a lifelong interest in Japan, has lived there, and speaks Japanese. All five books in the Tales of the Otori series—Across the Nightingale Floor, Grass for His Pillow, Brilliance of the Moon, The Harsh Cry of the Heron, and Heaven's Net is Wide—are available now from Riverhead Books.  Don't miss the related series, The Tale of Shikanoko.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Harsh Cry of the Heron: The Last Tale of the Otori 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
DrOrigami More than 1 year ago
Clearly set in a fantasy feudal Japan, this is the final story to cap off the previous Otori trilogy. I hated to see it end. The characters are almost like family at this stage. Not to be read without first reading the trilogy, which of course you must. I love this series! There are references that bring you up to date but I think only as reminders. Don't start with this one! Can't give away any of the story, but there is plenty of action and suspense. Things aren't to be taken for granted. If you like the others, you'll like this one.
Anonymous 10 months ago
, so I read through the reviews of this book on mutiple sites and I almost didn't read it. I didn't want there to be so much pain for the characters I had connected with in the first three of the Otori books. Now that I have finished all four, while my heart is broken for their story, I'm so glad I read all four! Now to explain why: First let me say that what made me love and connect with this series and the characters was the accuracy and realisim of the story. The author didn't sugarcoast fuedal Japan. I cried more than once, and this is why I love this series all the more. This final story, while it was darker and heavier, was a profound and appropriate end. Sab? Bittersweet? Hard to read? Yes. But in a way that leaves you with a profound meaning and insight to life like it was in those times. I read in one review that the message she had gotten was "love brings misery" was the phrase used I think. I didn't see that. Yes, there was misery, and yes, this story showed how badly things done by those we love can hurt us. How grief, hate, revenge, and fear can destroy our lives. Yet, it was so REAL to me! I could see myself feeling the same way. Especially if I had been raised and lived as they had. There was no fairy tale ending, and some would see the ending as too harsh. Yet, at the end, I did see love; and the start of forginess and healing. I even re-read the last chapter several times because it was so....DEEP. The depth of how all the emotions that had been welling up in each character culminating into this very poignant end. It FELT as it should be. As it had to be for their story. The Otori series, all four of them, are hands down one of the best book series I have ever read. Not for the faint of heart, or for those that cannot accept/understand how life was in fuedal times. But a deep and heart wrenching story that will leave you touched.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
An amazing series! You can feel the emotions going through every character and you will smile and cry with them as the story goes. You won't be able to put this book down.
Zues More than 1 year ago
I am still reading this one. Hoping that it leaves an opportunity for its continuation!