TITLE: Tales of the Otori, Book Three: Brilliance of the Moon
AUTHOR: Lian Hearn
I really need to stop procrastinating about writing these reviews, especially when I love the book. As often happens with series, I'm reluctant to finish reading the last book because I hate for the saga to end. In this last of a fantasy trilogy based on medieval Japan, the plot threads woven in the first two books come together as Takeo, a young man of mixed heritage, fulfills his destiny. His mother was one of the Hidden, an outcast religious sect, and his father had been a Tribe assassin. But Takeo is also heir to the Otori domain, and with the love of his life, Kaede, heir to the Mauyama domain, he uses his preternatural talents and his cunning to lead a patched together army against a variety of enemies to unite the Three Kingdoms in peace.
It's so hard to sum up a series like this because it's so much more and I don't want to spoil any of it. It's a tale of betrayal, battles, love, suffering, coming of age experiences, death, honor, and more. Only a couple of years are covered in the three books, yet it feels like so much more time passes as Takeo matures, finds his place in his world, and accepts his destiny while accepting the consequences, good and bad, that are part of it.
If you haven't read this series, give it a try. The fantasy element is minimal. It's more an alternate history with a touch of magic, told in a clear, straightfoward manner that aims right for the heart.