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Harsh Cry of the Heron

The Last Tale of the Otori
Series: Tales of the Otori, Book 4
Length: 19 hrs and 55 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,598 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An epic fantasy set in a mythical, medieval Japan, Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori series has crossed genres, generations, and genders. Grand and complex in its themes, elegantly written, each book in the original trilogy has become a worldwide best seller. This surprise fourth installment (and real conclusion), The Harsh Cry of the Heron, achieves new heights of drama and action.

16 years of peace and prosperity have passed since Lord Otori Takeo united the Three Countries. Takeo and his beloved consort, Kaede, have three daughters and a happy family life. Their success has attracted the attention of the distant Emperor and his general, the warlord Saga Hideki, who covet the wealth of the Countries. Meanwhile, the violent acts and betrayals of the past will not lie buried, and other secrets will not stay hidden. Everything that Takeo and Kaede have achieved is threatened.

In full ninja versus samurai fashion, Hearn delivers a kinetic, heartbreaking, and uplifting resolution to a thoroughly gripping saga.

Don't miss the rest of the Tales of the Otori series.
©2006 Lian Hearn (P)2006 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

"Seizes you from start to finish." (The Washington Post)
"Hearn seamlessly fuses fact and fantasy to create a sprawling, bewitching realm of magic." (Publishers Weekly)
"The Otori saga gets better with each book, and this is the most absorbing entry in the series, complete with intrigue, magic, romance, and action. A perfect final chapter." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Destroys the happy ending of the trilogy

I loved the trilogy and was excited to read this sequel. I now wish I hadn't read it, however, because it turns the entire story into a Greek tragedy, you end up hating half the characters as they cater to the worst in their natures, and the anticipated dressing down that you expect for the villain is so understated that the awaited climax is ruined. I also agree with other reviewers that the narration was really bad. The other issue is that the book ends with the fate of several characters completely unknown or poorly fleshed out. There are some characters introduced in a way that leads you to expect them to play into the story (like Takeo's sister), but the book ends with the foreshadowing having been for nothing. I ended the book hating Kaede, having tons of unanswered questions, and not knowing the fate of several key characters. If you loved the trilogy, don't ruin it with this book.

29 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Fourth Book falls short

First off, I loved and was totally enthralled in books 1-3 mostly because the narration of all three books were the same people and great acting. They kept you glued, conscious and focused. The switching from the male perspective to the female was great. Then came the anticipated fourth book and they (for some reason) changed the narration characters....AWFUL! I barely got through the book, the Male narrator was bland, monotone and had no excitement whatsoever then the Female voice was almost intolerable boring especially when she tried to do a males voice OMG!!!
The book itself was good but a bit redundant at times, kind of sporadic and drawn out. Again I really think that changing the narration characters was a grave choice and was disappointing, but nevertheless I had to listen to all 19 hours because I invested so much time in the later books that I needed the conclusion.

Over all I give this book a 3 star.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Caroline
  • Morgan Hill, CA, USA
  • 02-11-08

What a bummer!

What a shame! As other reviewers have stated, I wish I never would have gone past the triliogy. This story is boring, confusing and way too many characters to keep track of. In fact,I didn't care what happened to anyone, as long as it was over. Don't waste your money like I did.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Awful Narration

I listened to and enjoyed the first three books. I could not listen to this book. the narrator
sounded like he was reading to a third grade class. When a skillful reader reads a quote from another work, you can tell he/she is "reading". This male narrator sounded that way all the time.
I agree with the other reviewers, they should not have changed.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Narration almost ruins the story

Good read, terrible listen.
The new narrators were a mistake on someone's part. They should have waited until the originals were available. Or not published into audio at all if they weren't.
Almost ruins an epic. Good thing the storyline is so compelling.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Not worth your time

I really loved the first 3 books. They were engaging and the characters seemed alive and stong.

Harsh Cry was a bitter disappoint, Kaede's personality completely changed. From the strong woman in the first three book, she now turns into a superstitious weak woman of the age long gone.

It was pain to listen to this book and it took many many attempts to start/continue this book on the drive to and from LA to SF bay area. (6 hour one-way)

Don't waste your time, if you loved the series, consider it ended at part 3.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Still loving the story

I agree with the other reviewers that the readers are not nearly as good as the ones for the original trilogy. I also agree that Kaede has totally changed and that is a real disappointment. Still, I love the story. It brings history alive and makes me want to learn more about the time period. The male reader will sometimes put you to sleep, however.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Philip A
  • Thousand Oaks, CA USA
  • 06-22-09

Be Advised

This audiobook may cause drowsiness. Please do not drive or handle heavy machinery while listening.

Truly disappointing. Loved the first three installments of Tales of the Otori but the narration of this fourth installment is so lackluster and monotonous as to be un-listenable.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • W.Denis
  • Savannah, GA, United States
  • 06-20-08

Too much of a good thing

I listened to the prequil and then went back and listened to the original three Tales of the Otori again enjoying them with much more insight.

The second "final tale" was strained with fantisy and femininism to the point that it was hard to finish.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kathy
  • United States
  • 11-07-06

4th is one too many

This book isn't in the same league as the first three. Convoluted and fluid plots are difficult to keep straight; I could have used a map, genealogical and organizational charts

However, the real problem is with the narration. Appalling. Thank goodness the first books were presented better.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful