Across The Nightingale Floor

I had a lot of time to read this past weekend during my 234095823059 hour train ride upstate, which means that I finished Across The Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn. Here comes the review...

What Barnes & Noble ThoughtReading like a cross between Frank Herbert's Dune and the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this intrigue-soaked, magic-realist tale is likely to appeal to readers who enjoy experiencing an original world unfold with each new chapter. Those who have read and reread Tolkien will blissfully turn these pages and find themselves missing appointments.

Set in a long-ago world resembling medieval Japan, where warring clans brutally battle it out while the nobility plots political marriages, the action starts almost immediately. Bodies are piling up by the third page, as teenage Takeo witnesses a massacre in his previously peaceful village. He seems to be writing his own ticket to the grave when he knocks an evil warlord from his horse. The boy is saved, though, by Lord Otori, who introduces Takeo to his clan-hence the subtitle, Tales of the Otori.

Across the Nightingale Floor seems straightforward enough at first, but in Hearn's world, there are plots within plots, schemes within schemes, and skillfully interwoven elements of fantasy. The author does some neat narrative juggling by alternating chapters between Takeo's first-person odyssey and the you-go-girl, third-person story of the Cinderella-like Kaede. Romance is neatly combined with adventure, and it seems likely that any reader arriving at the close of this story will readily pick up the next volume in the series.

What Danielle Thought: I heart ninjas, like, seriously. I think they are the coolest antagonists in the history of history, so it's not very surprising to me that I loved this book as much as I did. At first, I was a little skeptical, especially when I read the Lord of the Rings comparison on the back of book (I've never even seen the movies because I'm that much NOT into fantasy), but it was incredible.

Takeo's journey to find himself was one that I could relate to (except the invisibility, super-sonic hearing and body-splitting). As the events unfolded, I got more excited about how they would turn out. I think I forgot to blink for the last hour I was reading and that's the God's honest truth. 

I'm really kinda bummed that I didn't have the second installation of the series with me on the train, because I would've started to read it right then and there! I got paid today; tomorrow, it will be mine. The Tales of the Otori will continue.

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