I?ve always loved Japan, and martial arts have always fascinated on me. So it is with the greatest pleasure I listened to the magic of this book. Magic at several levels indeed, since the leading character, Takeo (Tomasu) is of an ancient tribe and has supernatural powers. Set in medieval and feudal Japan, it starts within the Hidden (the Christians) who are persecuted. That part is historic. Then we learn about the feuds between the clans and the designs of Lord Otori, and how Takeo fits in. I won?t give away more of the story. You?ll have to find out how the clans lead their wars, including assassins and one way to keep them at bay: wooden floors designed to chirp on anyone who walks on them (hence the beautiful title, which is the first thing actually that captured my attention).
Those who have read and liked the White Ninja series by Eric Lustbader will immediately love this book. I thought for a while that the skills (invisibility, power to put anyone to sleep by looking at them) lent to the hero had a natural explanation, such as a natural way to blend into the scenery (camouflage techniques, hypnosis), but it seems they are to be taken quite literally.
But there is so much more magic in this book. The choice of words and sentences reads like poetry. Since the chapters alternate between Kaede (the feminine hero) and Takeo, reading by two narrators of the opposite sex was a great idea. The narration is good and does not get in the way. Some found it monotone (esp. of Ms Nakasone), but I quite disagree; to me, it had a hypnotic quality. Besides, it let the words speak for themselves and did not try to add on to them, which I think was the just touch. On a last note, those like me who speak or have some knowledge of Japanese will also appreciate the accurate and original pronunciation of the Japanese names.
Last note: this is the first of a trilogy. The second (Grass for his Pillow) is even better. Read on!
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