"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Harsh Cry of the Heron

TITLE:  The Harsh Cry of the Heron: The Last Tale of the Otori
AUTHOR: Lian Hearn

I thought I was done when I finished the Tales of the Otori trilogy. Then I discovered this book. Taking place 15 or so years after the trilogy, the story continues the intrigue in a magical version of medieval Japan. The Three Countries have known unparalleled peace and prosperity under Takeo and Kaede's rule, but old enemies are plotting against them. In addition, the emperor has noticed. Not pleased by Takeo's unsanctioned rule, he has demanded a personal appearance of Takeo in the capital.

Hearn opens up her storytelling in this book by telling the tale from many viewpoints, not just the two or three in the previous stories. Most notably are the povs of Takeo's three daughters: Shigeko, the eldest, who does not possess his special Tribe talents; and the twins, Maya and Miki, whose talents might surpass those of their father. As twins, they are considered bad luck by the populace and feared by everyday folk. Their own insecurities lead them to actions that help drive the story.

This is a complex tale with less action than the earlier trilogy, but one as intriguing and beguiling as those books. The end is fitting, yet leaves me wanting more, a true sign of a good writer telling a good story.