Summary and book reviews of Grass For His Pillow by Lian Hearn

Grass For His Pillow

Tales of The Otori, Book 2

By Lian Hearn

Grass For His Pillow
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2003,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2004,
    368 pages.

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Book Summary

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, one of Book magazine's best novels of the year, and one of School Library Journal's Best Adult Books for High School Readers (2002), Across the Nightingale Floor was an international bestseller and critical success, named "the most compelling novel to have been published this year" by the Times (London).

In this second tale, we return to the land of harsh beauty and deceptive appearances where we first met Takeo--the young orphan taken up by the Otori Lord and now a closely held member of the Tribe--and his beloved Shirakawa Kaede, heir to the Maruyama and alone in the world, who must find a way to unify the domain she has inherited.

In a complex social hierarchy, amid dissembling clans and fractured allegiances, there is no place for passionate young love. Yet Takeo and Kaede, drawing on their unusual talents and hidden strengths, must make their way in this tale of longing, ambition, and intrigue. Grass for His Pillow is a tantalizing next installment in a brilliantly imaginative and critically acclaimed series.

Shirakawa Kaede lay deeply asleep in the state close to unconsciousness that the Kikuta can deliver with their gaze. The night passed, the stars paled as dawn came, the sounds of the temple rose and fell around her, but she did not stir. She did not hear her companion, Shizuka, call anxiously to her from time to time, trying to wake her. She did not feel Shizuka's hand on her forehead. She did not hear Lord Arai Daiichi's men as they came with increasing impatience to the veranda, telling Shizuka that the warlord was waiting to speak to Lady Shirakawa. Her breathing was peaceful and calm, her features as still as a mask's.

Toward evening the quality of her sleep seemed to change. Her eyelids flickered and her lips appeared to smile. Her fingers, which had been curled gently against her palms, spread.

Be patient. He will come for you.

Kaede was dreaming that she had been turned to ice. The words echoed lucidly in her head. There was no fear in the dream, just the...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. When Kaede admits to Shizuka that it was she, not Takeo, that killed Iida Shizuka is shocked and responds by saying, "Never let anyone know that! Not one of these warriors, not even Arai would let you live" (p. 7 in galley). Why would the warriors or Arai kill Kaede, especially since they were going to kill Iida anyway? What does this say about how women are viewed in this society?

  2. At the start of the second book it seems that Kaede has evolved from the person she was in Across the Nightingale Floor. For example: she is now willing to appear to submit to those above her, she is able to look men in the eyes, and she says that she feels power in her veins. In fact, after meeting her Fujiwara tells her, "You are very bold for a girl."...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

The clash of armies and igniting of passions that mixed with such impressive power in that first book have been dampened in this moodier sequel.

Publishers Weekly

...Hearn catches fresh details of trees, birds, rivers and mountains. With quick, direct sentences like brushstrokes on a Japanese scroll, she suggests vast and mysterious landscapes full of both menace and wonder.

Booklist - Kristine Huntley

In the second Otori book, Hearn maintains the epic scale of the first, and adds depth to the exotic world his characters inhabit. A prophecy and a surprising revelation towards the end of the novel set the stage for the third book.

Locus

The stuff of truly original fantasy.

The New York Times Book Review

Lian Hearn has created a world I anticipate returning to with pleasure.

Reader Reviews
Bitter

_
I found this book a little depressing and less energetic than the former, but I guess it was aimed at crushing that 'fantasy world' that had been built around Takeo and Kaede, leaving them to fight their way out of reality with a flag in one hand and...   Read More

Tiff

grass for his pillow
this book is so good but i liked thet frist book more i still could not put it down it is major page turner. Hearn captures real life thoughts and puts in with it. all i can really say is that this book is really good.

jlp

Hearn again draws, with understanding and affection, on the world of medieval Japan for her inspiration. Though it's not quite as good as Across the Nightingale Floor, that book was so good that it really doesn't matter! The struggles Kaede and ...   Read More

Anonymous

This is one awesome book@!!

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