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Brilliance of the Moon
Lian Hearn
Riverhead Books, 328 pages

Brilliance of the Moon
Lian Hearn
Lian Hearn is a pseudonym. Born in England and currently living in Australia, the author attended Oxford University, has studied Japanese and has a lifelong interest in Japan.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Grass for His Pillow
SF Site Review: Across the Nightingale Floor
SF Site Review: Across the Nightingale Floor
Tales of the Otori

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alisa McCune

With a mix of Japanese folklore and medieval courtly drama, Lian Hearn takes us on a journey that started with Across the Nightingale Floor, was continued in Grass for His Pillow, and Brilliance of the Moon is the wonderful conclusion to the Tales of Otori trilogy. I highly recommend this series as both entertaining and thought provoking.

At the conclusion of Grass For His Pillow, Lord Otori Takeo and Lady Kaede Shirakawa have married without permission. Takeo lives under a death threat from the Tribe, a ninja-like group of assassins and spies. Kaede is trying desperately to retain her inheritance of Maruyama and heal from her ordeals. Lord Arai has taken over the Tohan and is waging war on the tribe. As one of Kaede's relatives, Lord Arai is outraged by her marriage to Otori Takeo without his permission.

Takeo is troubled by many things. He feels he must avenge his adopted father, Lord Shigeru, who was betrayed by Otori Lords. Takeo is further burdened by the tribe, Kikuta, who have claimed him as their own. Takeo is the son of the Kikuta's most infamous assassin, who was murdered after attempting to leave the family tradition and one of the Hidden. The Hidden are a Christian-like religious group who are persecuted. Lastly, Takeo is driven by his love for Kaede. He loves her in every sense of the word -- carnally, emotionally, and spiritually.

In Grass for His Pillow, Takeo is gifted and burdened with the following prophecy:

Three bloods are mixed in you. You were born into the Hidden, but your life has been brought into the open and is no longer your own. Earth will deliver what heaven desires. Your lands will stretch from sea to sea, but peace comes at the price of bloodshed. Five battles will buy you peace, four to win and one to loose. Many must die, but you yourself are safe from death, except at the hands of your own son.
The prophecy weighs heavily on Takeo and he finds himself falling into despair at the bloodshed his revenge is causing. It takes a very special man to inspire other to their deaths. Those who die by Jato, his sword, and those he could not protect haunt him. Takeo must find a way to seek revenge without the loss of his soul or his love, Kaede. Tales of the Otori is a wonderfully written work of fantasy that is enjoyable on many levels. The story itself is not simply a story of familial revenge. Takeo cannot just kill those who have killed his family. Their deaths are a result of betrayals that run much deeper. That betrayal never ends and is like a weed. You can cut the head off, but the roots run very deep. In the end, Takeo must decide how ruthless he will be in order to seek the vengeance his soul cries out for. That vengeance comes at a very high price in blood.

Copyright © 2004 Alisa McCune

Alisa discovered science fiction at the tender age of eight. She devoured The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and never looked back. She lives in Chicago with her husband, cat, and 5000 books. For more information please visit her website at

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