Lian Hearn studied modern languages at Oxford Univeristy and worked as a film critic and arts editor in London before settling in Australia. A lifelong interest in Japan led to the study of the Japanese language, many trips to Japan and culminated in the writing of the Tales of the Otori trilogy.
Australian writer Gillian Rubinstein, writing as Hearn, concludes her bestselling Otori fantasy epic (Across the Nightingale Floor, etc.) with another magical tale of life and death in feudal Japan. Thanks to his enlightened leadership, 15 years of peace and prosperity have passed since Otori Takeo united the Three Countries, but his enemies continue to plot their revenge-including the Tribe, a ninja-like group of assassins, and the duplicitous Lord Zenko, one of Takeo's retainers. Perhaps the greatest threat, however, is the prophecy of a holy woman that Takeo will die only at his son's hand; his only son, an unacknowledged bastard, is being raised by his sworn enemy Kikuta Akio, the head of a Tribe family. With his beautiful (and legitimate) daughter and heir Shigeko by his side, Takeo must navigate these treacherous shoals to save his lands and his legacy from destruction. Hearn seamlessly fuses fact and fantasy to create a sprawling, bewitching realm of magic. There's enough background in this fourth installment that a new reader will have no problem following along, and fans will be heartened to know that this "Last Tale" will be followed in 2007 by a prequel. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
With this stand-alone book Hearn returns to the setting of her very successful 'Otori Trilogy' (Across the Nightingale Floor, Grass for His Pillow and Brilliance of the Moon). With her usual grace, Hearn has woven history, intrigue and politics together in a way that manages to be both lyrical and suspenseful. The Harsh Cry of the Heron is much larger than Hearn's usual offerings at seven hundred plus pages and is an epic in every sense of the word. Fans of the 'Otori Trilogy' will find everything here that was foreshadowed at the end of the Brilliance of the Moon. The motivations of love, ambition, revenge and loyalty are as much in evidence in Harsh Cry as in the rest of the series and, most importantly, the passions of the characters are credible. One of the great joys of the Otori series has been in the vibrant characters that populate it, and in this Harsh Cry is no exception. Taking up the tale a few years after Brilliance of the Moon, the story returns to the Three Kingdoms, where the rule of Takeo Otori has ushered in an era of prosperity and peace. This is not to say that all is well in Otori lands. Some wounds of the past cannot heal and there are secrets that could destroy all that Takeo has created. There are also those who covet what the Otori have built, both within the Three Kingdoms and outside it. Forces in the imperial capital conspire to bring down the Otori clan, while others plot to destroy Takeo and everything he holds dear. Cultures, faiths and technologies clash as Foreigners with their Christianity and their guns complicate matters further. The Three Kingdoms look to the Otori for guidance, but Takeo must undertake the task to preserve the Three Kingdoms with a shadow in his heart. There is a secret prophecy that he shall die at the hands of his only son, a young man who has been raised in ignorance of his true parentage ... raised as a man who wants Takeo dead. While Hearn may return to the lands of the Otori in future books, Harsh Cry brings to a close the story that began with the boy Tomasu fleeing his burning village as a child in Across the Nightingale Floor. I doubt that anyone who enjoyed the previous Otori books will be disappointed. Stefen Brazulaitis is a customer service manager for Borders Perth