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Publisher's Summary

“Exotic, entertaining...[an] exceptional first novel.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

The year is 1861. After two centuries of isolation, Japan has opened its doors to the West. And as foreign ships threaten to rain destruction on the Shogun’s castle in Edo, a small group of American missionaries has arrived to spread the word of their God. They have yet to realize that their future in Japan has already been foreseen. For a young nobleman has dreamt that his life will be saved by an outsider in the New Year...and it is said that Lord Genji has the gift of prophecy. 

What happens next - when the handsome lord meets an apparently reformed gunslinger and a woman in flight from her own destructive beauty - sets the stage for a remarkable adventure. For as this unlikely band embarks on a journey through a landscape bristling with danger, East and West, flesh and spirit, past and future, collide in ways no one - least of all Genji - could have imagined.

Praise for Cloud of Sparrows

“The book seizes you from start to finish.” (The Washington Post)   

“Adventure-filled.” (Entertainment Weekly)   

“Rich...with an ambitious, unexpected ending that cuts deeper than a samurai sword.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

©2002 Takashi Matsuoka (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Exotic, entertaining ... [an] exceptional first novel.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

"The book seizes you from start to finish.” (The Washington Post)

 “Adventure-filled.” (Entertainment Weekly)

What listeners say about Cloud of Sparrows

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    163
  • 4 Stars
    104
  • 3 Stars
    52
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    13
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    89
  • 4 Stars
    48
  • 3 Stars
    20
  • 2 Stars
    3
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    4
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    99
  • 4 Stars
    37
  • 3 Stars
    19
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Quintessential Novel

Takashi Matsouka has written a masterpiece about Japan in the mid 1800's, where though threatened, the Samari culture still thrives. It does so, even though the Japanese live under the threats posed by the guns and canons of the multi-national war ships at anchor in their bays and the internal hatreds dating back hundreds of years.

Grover Gardner's reading of it provides a seamless transition from character to character, while imbuing each with the rich individuality that the author had so perfectly shaped with his words. If the book can be faulted in any way, it would be by its ending. Not because the author failed in any way, but because it ended. I wanted it to go on forever. With Gardner's final words, came the fearful realization that I might never again find a book so beautifully written and dramatically read.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting but...

This book was good in the fact that it is well written and it does seem to take the reader away to a different time and place: Edo Japan. Unfortunately, if you can get past the quite unbelievable plot and characters, you won't be able to escape the one dimensional narration. The narrator sounds better suited to a PBS documentary and does not pronounce many of the simplest Japanese words correctly (e.g. Edo). This would be a better read than listen.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Quite good

This book gets a five star because it is good. Not the best book in the world that you listen to 500 times, but it is really a good book. I enjoyed it thoroughly and look forward to the next in the series. I found the clash of the Japanese and American cultures for the first time to be funny and very realistic - my husband is Japanese and I am American, and many of the observations were only too true. Also, the characters were, for the most part, ones you could be swept away with and care about. Good narration only adds to the book.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good Quality Semi-historical Fiction

An enjoyable read, Lots of blood and guts, honor, and some pretty good characters. A bit of a slow start, but an excellent choice while you are waiting for the third book in The Otori Trilogy. Not the same level as Across the Nightingale Floor, but close.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Very entertaining

I really liked this book, its characters, and its subject matter. I saw one review that compared it to Lian Hearn's books. The topics are similar but the style, plot, tone and overall feeling are all very different. That comparison doesn't seem justified or accurate. I think this is an enjoyable book and very fascinating in its own way. I recommend it.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Cloud of Sparrows

an enjoyable story. captivating characters. i found the end to be a little weak but my real disappointment was the westernization of japanes words, especially "samurai". that really made the japanese characters unbelievable. it would have been great if only the western characters pronounced it that way. but, the story is imaginative and entertaining and i look foward to his next book.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great Listen

First the bad news...

The combination of Japanese names and jumping between various sub-plots, times and cultures can be challenging in an audio book. I imagine that this would be less disruptive in the written form.

but...

I found it worth the effort. Besides being entertaining, I absorbed a bit of Japanese history in spite of my general impatience with anything vaguely educational. It was somewhat of a cross between "Shogun" and the "Otori Trilogy". The ending was somewhat disappointing in that it seemed to resolve little and largely attempt to sell the next book of the series. To that extent, it worked - I'm anxious for the unabridged version of "Autumn Bridge"

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Sense of change

The story takes us to the time when Japan was thrust into the Industrial Age of Europe and the U.S. They adopted quickly to modern arms but held onto the old samari code as we saw in WWII.
Sometimes the names were confusing but the principle characters remained clear.
Thoroughly enjoyed the story and narrator.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very good!

I enjoyed this story, somewhat reminiscent of Clavell's Shogun but written with a greater perception of the Japanese viewpoint - well, of course since the author is Japanese.
Very well written and translated, good balanced characterizations, likable characters, fast moving plot and a satisfying outcome. What more could one want? The next book by the same author!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Tremendous piece of Art

The book contains the Japanese traditions intertwined within subliminal take of love, bravery & sacrifice which find it’s path within each reader.

The book takes you into a time of Japan transformation & unfolding a new era of prosperity & advance.

The book is an epic tale that shall take you into your deepest consciousness depths...

1 person found this helpful