Summary and book reviews of Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

Across the Nightingale Floor

Tales of the Otori, Volume I

By Lian Hearn

Across the Nightingale Floor
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2002,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2003,
    323 pages.

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Book Summary

Every now and then a novel appears, completely unlike anything that has appeared before. Across the Nightingale Floor is such a work-a magical creation of a world beyond time.

Set in an imaginary, ancient Japanese society dominated by warring clans, Across the Nightingale Floor is a story of a boy who is suddenly plucked from his life in a remote and peaceful village to find himself a pawn in a political scheme, filled with treacherous warlords, rivalry--and the intensity of first love. In a culture ruled by codes of honor and formal rituals, Takeo must look inside himself to discover the powers that will enable him to fulfill his destiny.

A work of transcendent storytelling with an appeal that crosses genres, genders, and generations, Across the Nightingale Floor is a rich and brilliantly constructed tale, mythic in its themes and epic in its vision. It is poised to become the most captivating novel of the year.

My mother used to threaten to tear me into eight pieces if I knocked over the water bucket, or pretended not to hear her calling me to come home as the dusk thickened and the cicadas' shrilling increased. I would hear her voice, rough and fierce, echoing through the lonely valley. "Where's that wretched boy? I'll tear him apart when he gets back."

But when I did get back, muddy from sliding down the hillside, bruised from fighting, once bleeding great spouts of blood from a stone wound to the head (I still have the scar, like a silvered thumbnail), there would be the fire, and the smell of soup, and my mother's arms not tearing me apart but trying to hold me, clean my face, or straighten my hair, while I twisted like a lizard to get away from her. She was strong from endless hard work, and not old: She'd given birth to me before she was seventeen, and when she held me I could see we had the same skin, although in other ways we were not much alike, she having ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Revenge is a motivating factor for many of the actions of the characters throughout the book. As Takeo recalls how he knocked Iida from his horse he admits his prior ignorance of revenge, "I knew nothing of the wars of the clans, nothing of their rigid codes and their feuds. I had spent my whole life among the Hidden who are forbidden to kill and taught to forgive each other. But at that moment Revenge took me as a pupil" (pg. 7). In this situation revenge is a more powerful force than Takeo's religious beliefs. Does revenge continue to override all of Takeo's other emotions throughout the rest of the book? What other emotions motivate Takeo throughout the story?
     
  2. Upon meeting Shigeru, Takeo is told to change his name from ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Many books have kept me up at night but not many have caused me to wake up early to finish them. In this case, I took the book camping and was so hooked that, on waking at 4am, I left the warm confines of my sleeping bag, and sleeping family, in order to sit outside, shivering in the cold early morning, reading by flashlight until the sun rose two hours later! This isn't a particularly deep or intellectual book - just a ripping good mainstream historical fiction yarn.  

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Christina Reader, Watermark Books and Cafe, Wichita, Kansas
What a wonderful book of imagination! It reawakens the side of longing for good stories, a desire instilled in childhood and never gone. One looses the tedious realities and escapes into that innocence of fascination. Thank you!

Kirkus Reviews

Mythical medieval Japan never seemed so attractive as in this breezy epic, the first in a trilogy, about a boy with strange powers who gets caught up in a long-simmering inter-clan conflict....Once a marriage is arranged for her...her path and Takeo's wind closer and closer together in a complex plot that Hearn carries us through with the greatest of ease. ...A rousingly muscular piece of romantic adventure, replete with shadowy assassins, fluttering battle flags, and doomed love.

Publishers Weekly

Mystical powers and martial arts rampage through this pseudo-Japanese story, the first of a projected trilogy by newcomer Hearn, with an abandon that's head spinning.

Library Journal

The plot sounds intriguing enough in an ancient, mythical Japan, a village lad is suddenly thrust into the midst of sinister warlords. What's more intriguing is that this debut, the first in the Otori trilogy, has been sold to nearly a dozen countries and optioned by Universal.

Booklist - Carrie Bissey

The Lord of the Rings phenomenon should pave the way for the success of worthy adventure trilogies (film rights have already been sold for this one), and this tale of love, loyalty, and courage is deserving of comparison to old favorites.

Publishing News

A truly remarkable tale set in a mythical feudal Japanese land. Primarily a wonderful love story set against a background of warring clans and sudden death. It has a magical quality and the power of the story is truly awesome.

Reader Reviews
AVerity

ATNF
While as a ten year old I found this book an incredibly long and dragging read that I read for the feeling of pride rather than enjoyment, as a twelve year old, I found this book to be a delightful and intruiging read. Still long and dragging, but ...   Read More

brooke

SOOOOO BORING
It has a good storyline but takes far to long to reach anything of interest. My grade 10 English class was expected to read it, it was horrible.

Emma

Across the Nightingale Floor
Lian Hearn's books were the first I actually read from start to finish with complete anticipation the whole way through. I absolutely loved the fact it could affect my emotions and I found it so difficult to set down. The whole storyline, thought and...   Read More

SilentNightingale

Disappointed.
When my teacher told me about this book, I thought it was going to be a good book.... boy was I disappointed! This book has many flaws, some points aren't really clear, others he wouldn't stop pointing out! The timing of the story is off and I was ...   Read More

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