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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

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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
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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 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year 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
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The fourth and final episode in the popular Tales of the Otori series is every bit as compelling and exciting as its predecessors (Across the Nightingale Floor, Grass for His Pillow and Brilliance of the Moon). Author Hearn has captured our imaginations with his stories set in medieval Japan where sorcery, martial arts, and warfare hold sway. Those who heard Brilliance of the Moon will remember that hero Otori Takeo and Shirikawa Kaeda are now wed, but they have scant time together as he sets off to secure what he considers their birthrights. They remember the holy woman's prophecy: '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.....' Now, with The Harsh Cry of the Heron sixteen years have past and there has been peace throughout the Three Countries that he brought together. However, his unrelenting enemies are bent on destruction. It seems that all Takeo and Kaeda worked to establish may be destroyed. Perhaps even more frightening to Takeo is another prophecy - 'that he can only die at the hand of a member of his own family.' Devastation threatens from without and perhaps from within. The Harsh Cry of the Heron is a bit of a surprise for fans as Tales of the Otori was introduced as a trilogy. That surprise is more than a pleasant one when the text is read by two such talented performers as Julia Fletcher and Henri Lubatti. Julia Fletcher is a multi talented actress known for her work on animated works and video games. She's especially effective when the oeuvre is fantasy as she has a wonderfully resonant low voice that fully captures other worldly characters. The equally gifted Henri Lubatti has numerous film and television roles to his credit - a powerful companion voice for Ms. Fletcher.
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