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Editorial Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: At the heart of Lian Hearn's beautiful saga of samurai, enchantment, and passion in feudal Japan is the story of two ill-fated lovers, brought to poignant life with the dual performances of Kevin Gray and Aiko Nakasone. Trading chapters as their stories intertwine, Gray and Nakasone anchor the action with their alternating voices, underscoring the very personal stakes amidst the epic tale of feuding warlords. — Ed Walloga

Publisher's Summary

A tour-de-force novel set in ancient Japan filled with passion, fantasy, and feuding warlords. The first volume in the highly anticipated Tales of the Otori trilogy.

Sixteen-year-old Takeo's village has been massacred by an evil warlord, and he is about to be slain by the men who murdered his parents and neighbors. At the last moment, his life is saved by a nobleman, who claims the boy as his kin and begins his education.

But nothing is as it seems. Takeo discovers that he has rare powers that are useful to those around him. As he grows into manhood, he must decide where his loyalties lie: with his noble master and adoptive father; with the Hidden, a secret, spiritual sect whose beliefs are forbidden; or with the Tribe, the assassins and spies who consider him one of their own.

A story of treachery, political intrigue, and the intensity of first love, set in a world ruled by formal ritual and codes of honor, Across the Nighingale Floor crosses genres, generations, and genders to captivate fans of all ages.

Don't miss the rest of the Tales of the Otori series.
©2002 Lian Hearn (P)2003 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

"The novel fills a unique niche that is at once period piece and fantasy novel." (

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Wonderful epic story

I listened to the sample and could think of nothing else until I downloaded it; and, having just finished, I have just purchased the next book; and am listening to the this one again!

This book has just about everything; epic story; love (requited and not), honor, heroes, scoundrels; magic and wars.

The story starts with the narrator's story. He is rescued by a lord when his village is destroyed. The reasons behind all this, are developed in the story. There is also the story of a young woman, held as a hostage to ensure cooperation between "warlords". They meet and the rest well, I won't tell you. The story goes back and forth between these two characters.

The reading is excellent, but the Japanese names are a bit difficult. I do not know if the names would be easier in print. The images, while painted with spare strokes, capture a feeling of a different time and place. I suggest listening to the sample; if you like that, you will like the book.

147 of 150 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Reads like poetry! Don't miss the sequels!

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!

31 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Enjoyable narrators

I was interested in this book but was put off by the reviewers who did not like the narrators. I finally did listen and I have to disagree with the the negative reviews, especially as regards the female narrator. She sounds as if she may actually be a Japanese speaker and her inflections, pacing, and articulation are precise but convey the appropriate emotion, as well. I enjoyed both performances very much.

The book itself was absorbing and enjoyable. I had a slight problem with the ocassional lapses of the author into 20th century colloquialisms which broke the illusion of feudal-era Japan, but I look forward to reading the next books in the series.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • JD
  • 02-04-09


I will have to respectfully disagree with the other reviewers who did not like the narrators. This is a Japanese tale, so their voices are calm, gentle- it fits well for this tale. They are also far from "robot-like", there are definite inflections, and separate "voices" for different characters. One quality I look for in a good narrator is the ability to get lost in the telling of the story, without being distracted by inconsistencies in character voice inflection or odd noises made by the narrator. I easily got lost in this tale. So much so that I had a hard time putting down my iPod to pause from the book.

The tale itself is delightful, poetic and vivid. It is technically a fantasy, but I found it also romantic and full of political intrigue. A very well done story. I'm looking forward to listening to the second book.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Tales of the Otori trilogy - book one

This is book one of a trilogy. After hearing it, I had a feeling that the story was cut off in mid sentence. I would highly suggest that the reader get all three books before listening. Unfortently, book three, "Brilliance of the Moon" will not be available in print until June 7, 2004 and there is no telling when or if it will be available in audio.

These books are outstanding, and well worth the price and time (at least the first two that I have heard.) The narrative is also outstanding. I highly recommend them.


48 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

fun, enjoyable

I liked this book. It was well read and easy to listen to. It is not a deep book but fun and fanciful. I liked the "magical powers" of the tribe.
I think this is more in the line of a young adults book, except that it had more graphic sex than I want my 11-14 year old sons to read.
I have read and/or listened to all five books in this series and this book{across the nightingale floor} and heavens net is wide (prelude) are the best books and the last (harsh cry of the heron) my least favorite.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jimmy
  • Willow Springs, MO, USA
  • 07-03-04

Loved This Book!

How to describe this book? It's just one of the most beautiful stories I've read/heard in a very long time. This is not an action-adventure story, although there are moments of both, it's a story about family, fathers and sons, lovers, and great evil perpetrated against those who choose peace over war, and then must choose war over peace. Almost from the minute this story began I was enthralled. I listened to it as I walked each day and would often find myself losing track of time. I can't wait to start the next book!

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

brilliant reading of a brilliant series of novels

My wife and have lived in Japan several times over the past 40 years. We both learned Japanese and became interested in Japanese history and traditions as adults. These truly are wonderful novels inspired by much real history of Japan's civil wars. The narrators are outstanding in that they impute a Japanese sounding intonation to the characters. In other words, although they are speaking English, one can almost think they are speaking Japanese. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Loved it from the first paragraph....

This is a wonderful book. My husband and I both enjoyed listening to the narrators tell this story of love, power, mystery and custom. We are looking forward to the second and third books. The characters are well developed and the story is easy to follow.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A beautifully simple book-not for everybody

If shoot 'em up thrillers are your idea of a 5 star story, if you LOVE Dick Hill and Scott Bricks narration than I'd suggest you avoid this book.

For my taste, the subtle flavors of the story arc, though very much in the YA plane, were wonderful. I liked the slow phrasing of the female narrator and the young mans voice of the male. These are kids, here, folks-not grown up yet they are thrown into feudal Japan amongst terrible wars, political intrigue and religious intolerance. The way they slowly evolve as 15 and 16 year olds, from simple lives to young adulthood is very nicely detailed in Lian Hearn's first book in the Otori series: Across the Nightingale Floor.

I very much appreciated the quiet feeling of the narrators-the book didn't deserve dramatic and overblown story telling. I enjoyed the details of the protagonists young lives, the way they were raised and, when their world was torn apart, the way they learned to cope.

I don't think every book is for every reader, but some of the very negative reviews aren't at all deserved. To each their own, though. I personally recommend the book for a time when you might be in an introspective place in your life. A time when Jack Reacher or Mitch Rapp or Eve Dallas isn't quite what you want. Give this little, short story a try on for size.

I thought it was similar in feeling to The Goldfinch-though much much shorter!

BTW-there is a prequel, but on the recommendation of a reviewer I follow, I decided to not listen to the backstory first-she suggested that the mysteries revealed in the prequel were a big plot point in the first book..thanks for that...and I thought I'd pass it along-in case anyone gets to my review.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful