The Barnes & Noble Review
Brilliance of the Moon, the third and concluding volume of Lian Hearn's bestselling Tales of the Otori trilogy (Across the Nightingale Floor and Grass for His Pillow), pits the fate-driven lovers Takeo and Kaede against impossible odds as they fight to save their marriage, their lands, and their own lives.
As Takeo plots to avenge the betrayal of his adopted father and take his rightful place as the leader of his clan, a holy woman's prophecy haunts him: "Three bloods are mixed in you. You were born into the Hidden, but your life has been brought into the open and is no longer your own. Earth will deliver what heaven desires. Your lands will stretch from sea to sea. Five battles will buy you peace, four to win and one to lose…"
While Takeo is traveling throughout the Three Countries defeating evil warlords and ruthless bands of outlaws, his wife, Kaede -- legendary for her beauty -- is abducted by a sadistic nobleman who, stating that Kaede's marriage to Takeo is invalid, forces her to wed him. A political prisoner once again, Kaede must rely on her intelligence to survive long enough to see Takeo again.
As bloody as it is beautiful, as poetic as it is profound, feudal Japan in Hearn's portrayal is a realm that readers will not soon forget. The Tales of the Otori saga is like an intriguing fusion of Arthurian legend and Taoist philosophy -- a philosophical battle between obeying rigid cultural mores and striving to live an honorable life. In a word: Brilliant. Paul Goat Allen
The Brilliance of the Moon, by Lian Hearn, is a worthy conclusion to an inventive trilogy that the pseudonymous author calls ''Tales of the Otori''; all three volumes are set in an imaginary medieval Japan where some people, including the hero, Takeo, are capable of truly mind-bending powers.
The New York Times
Set in an imaginary medieval Japan, the pseudonymous Hearn's third elegant installment in her epic fantasy (after 2002's Across the Nightingale Floor and 2003's Grass for His Pillow) is a fragrant blend of romance and martial-arts action. Her warrior hero, Takeo Otori, feels destined to fulfill the potent prophecy of a holy woman: "Your lands will stretch from sea to sea, but peace comes at the price of bloodshed. Five battles will buy you peace, four to win and one to lose." Intrigue, heartaches and battles ensue as Takeo, of mixed blood and conflicting loyalties (to the pseudo-Christian Hidden, the noble Otori clan and the dangerous, supernaturally gifted Tribe), seeks to unite the Three Countries. Desperately in love with Kaede Shirakawa, whom he secretly wed at the end of Grass for His Pillow, Takeo must now assist her in reclaiming her lands of Maruyama while balancing his own need to avenge the deaths of his blood father and his adoptive father, Lord Shigeru. The fates of such characters as Kaede's lover, Dr. Ishida, and her nemesis, Lord Fujiwara, who's determined to possess her, provide some cool aftershocks, while the afterword adds another-that a book four may follow. Agent, Joe Regal at Regal Literary. (June 7) FYI: Hearn is the pseudonym of Australian children's book author Gillian Rubinstein. Foreign rights have been sold in 23 markets. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Hearn continues her vividly related tale, set in an imaginary medieval Japan. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Kaede and Takeo find themselves in danger after their hasty marriage. Lord Fujiwara is furious that Kaede chose to marry another man when he considered them betrothed, and the warlord Arai considers Takeo presumptuous. The Tribe is split over the decision to kill Takeo. The young lovers must find allies in unexpected places to claim the domains that are rightfully theirs. In the end, they are both saved by a timely earthquake. This is a satisfactory conclusion to the story line, although the afterword virtually promises a sequel. Hearn's writing is evocative and subtle. A great deal of the excitement and intrigue of the first book is missing, but readers who have stuck with Takeo and Kaede will want to continue following their adventures.-Susan Salpini, TASIS-The American School in England Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The Otori trilogy smashes its way to a conclusion. Previously (Across the Nightingale Floor, 2002; Grass for His Pillow, 2003), the harsh beauty of the pseudo-Japan that Hearn had created allowed readers to think that something kinder might flower there, nurtured by the star-struck love between the ethereal beauty Kaede and Otori heir Takeo. But this time out, human nature rears its petty head and the results aren't pretty. The war that was threatened after Takeo's killing of the oppressive Lord Iida has finally been unleashed across the land, and Takeo is mustering a small, determined army to fight it-barely after Takeo and Kaede have stopped saying their wedding vows. It seems that everyone is gunning for Takeo: the rest of Iida's Tohan clan, as well as an alliance of families from the east, and the mythical Tribe (a scattered people who sell their near-magical, ninja-like skills to the highest bidders and think their kin Takeo a traitor). It doesn't take long for Takeo to leave behind the last bit of humanity left in him from Nightingale, when he was a foundling of the Hidden, the kindly Christian-like cult ferociously hated throughout the land. Here, Takeo appears to have become just another cruel warlord, torturing enemies for information and meting out cruel deaths as examples to others. This shift in personality gives the book a more mournful tone and that tempers its surging battle scenes and even dulls its romantic leanings. Hearn makes the parallels between her world and real-life Japan more obvious here-there are more references to a "mainland" as well as pale-skinned "barbarians" with strange, powerful new weapons-a device that works well with the book's increased sense ofrealism. There is heroism, to be sure, and many a noble speech, but there are also a sadness and an acknowledgement of human folly that raise Hearn's writing far above where it's been before. Lyric fantasy with a rare sense of the tragic. Film rights for entire trilogy to Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall/Universal. Agents: Howard Sanders, Richard Green/UTA