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Publisher's Summary

Book II of the internationally best-selling Tales of the Otori trilogy, a sweeping saga set in a mythical, medieval Japan.

In Book I of the Otori trilogy, Across the Nightingale Floor, Lian Hearn created a wholly original, fully-realized fantasy world where great powers clashed and young love dawned against a dazzling and mystical landscape. Nightingale was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, one of Book magazine's best novels of the year, and one of School Library Journal's Best Adult Books for High School Readers.

In this second tale, we return to the story of Takeo (the young orphan taken up by the Otori Lord and now a closely held member of the Tribe) and his beloved Shirakawa Kaede, heir to the Maruyama, who must find a way to unify the domain she has inherited. In a complex social hierarchy, amid dissembling clans and fractured alliances, there is no place for passionate love. Yet Takeo and Kaede, drawing on their unusual talents and hidden strengths, find ways both to nurture their intense personal bond and to honor the best interests of their people.

Like its predecessor, Grass for His Pillow is a transcendent work of storytelling: epic in scope, shimmering with imagination, and graced in equal measure with rapturous writing and exhilarating action.

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

Critic Reviews

"With quick, direct sentences like brushstrokes on a Japanese scroll, [Hearn] suggests vast and mysterious landscapes full of both menace and wonder." (Publishers Weekly)
"Lian Hearn has created a world I anticipate returning to with pleasure." (The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good book. First one was better

I liked this book, but liked the first one better. The story seemed to drone on in some spots but is still very good all the same. I'm also not a huge fan of the female reader--she is too measured (slow) for my tastes. But this is still a really good book by all rights.

I'm really looking forward for the third one in the trilogy to come out!

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Matthew
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 12-18-04

Mixed results; Typical middle book

This book falls into many of the pitfalls of a second book in a trilogy: it needs room to set up the finale after a first book that needed to concentrate on being stand-alone in case an audience didn't take to it. Consequently, this book has long stretches where the action rambles, as do the conversations. On the other hand, this book contains the best single scene in the first two books: Kaede confronting her "mad" father. The psychosexual nature of the scene is harrowing and it had me on the edge of my seat. Later, when Kaede is plotting how she will keep her domain afloat in winter, the book also becomes intriguing: how will a woman in this culture of men retain control? While the ratio of Takeo/Kaede chapters remains equal it can be said that this second book is largely Kaede's. She comes out of the "shock" of the first book and must take ground to equal Takeo's epic journey. He, on the other hand, has more of an inward trip on this book, figuring out which way his life will go. Overall, the action of this book takes a back seat to the character development. While this is not bad, it can be disappointing to the reader who wants a brisk pace. If you really liked the first book then this second volume will not deter you from going on to complete the third (which, I hope, brings on the conflict/action in heavy doses). If you were lukewarm on the first book, I would not advise you to continue.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very Good Story. Great Narration

If you have an interest in medieval Japan this is a very interesting book. The main characters are a man and a woman whose 2 lives intertwine but only with difficulty because of class structure.
each chapter is either the male or female's point of view each done in an appropriate voice. I really enjoyed the narration and think it is very well done and increased my enjoyment of the publication. I've listened to both and anxiously await the next one.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Blaine
  • Camas, WA, United States
  • 09-12-08

Completely Captivated

I am absolutely in love with this story. It's one of those books that I can't wait to get to the end, but at the same time, I don't want it to end! I almost missed a flight last week, because I was so engrossed in this superb tale. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do. Intrigue, Politics, Magic, Betrayal, Forgiveness, Power, really has it all.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Karry
  • Seattle, WA, USA
  • 07-15-05

Should be part of book one or book two

Just finished the trilogy and loved it however the second book rather bleak, mainly because there is not a hopeful character like Shigeru. This book should have been of the first or second but not one into itself. Most compelling is development of Kaede who changes the most from beginning to end of trilogy. I was very irritated by a reader who skipped her part of the book and referred to the author saying that HE the writer made her too strong in the first book. The writers is a woman and SHE does a great job of showing the struggle of faced by and independent women who dares to go against tradition. Also I had to remind myself that these were 16 year old kids hormone-ridden children who like most teens act stupidly and think they are invincible. Another refreshing aspect is the free expresion of homosexuality. shown in this book as sacred by the love of Makoto, and perverse in Lord Fijuware.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Rankin
  • Portland, OR, USA
  • 11-01-07

A poor follow-up

The first book in the series was okay, although it was roughly split between being an epic adventure (which I would have liked) and an historical romance (which at least I could have avoided.) This book, however, was neither; the first two-thirds (which was all I finished) was the incessant set-up for a complex story that clearly would not be completed in this book. This should have been about three chapters at the beginning of the substantive story. Good characters, and glimpses of an interesting story, but it needed ruthless editing, which it didn't get.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

This second of the Otori Trilogy is no let down.

I still have nothing but high praise for Hearn and thank him for this wonderful gift he is sharing with us. I appreciate the continuing growth of Kaede and Takeo. I love the balance of characters....the evil are not unbelievably evil and the heros not unbelievably perfect. The conspiracies are not far fetched and overly complicated, yet they are layered and ever moving and changing as things have always been and ever will be in the real world. If you are new to the Otori Trilogy, be sure to read Across the Nightingale Floor first. Again, thank you Lian Hearn. Thank you Kevin Gray and Iiko Nakasone (forgive spelling please) for your wonderful narrations.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • chris
  • Kelowna, BC, Canada
  • 08-15-04

Not the riveting tale the first one was

I really enjoyed Across the Nightingale Floor, however, this one is not nearly as good. This book splits the plot line into a male and female one. The male plot line is good, but the female plot line is weak, and the narration for it is stilted and dull. Not much happens in the female plot line and I found myself dozing off or waiting for it to end. Unfortunately it dominates the book. Hearn's style fits the material and the direct yet descriptive language is still fresh and interesting. Too bad most of the book wasn't.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Will
  • Winnipeg, MB, Canada
  • 12-21-07

Grass for His Pillow Review

To get right to the point... Overall, I was very dissappointed in this book. I'm not sure what the point of this second book in the series was, other than providing some mildly interesting filler information to set up book three. This book could have been easily summarized in a short chapter or two at the beginning of the third book. I'll still listen to the third book, though, as the first was such a great story.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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

Ok Story, Choppy Performance

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I listened to all three books in the series and liked them, but didn't love them. They're good stories, but fairly shallow compared to what I'm used to.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The cultural aspects are very interesting. The author did a good job of explaining cultural concepts that people don't often consider today.

Writing from the first-person perspective is difficult, and I think the story seemed shallow at points.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kevin Gray and Aiko Nakasone ?

Can't think of anyone.

Could you see Grass for His Pillow being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Perhaps. The stars should be Japanese though.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful