Excerpt from Grass For His Pillow by Lian Hearn, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Grass For His Pillow

Tales of The Otori, Book 2

by Lian Hearn

Grass For His Pillow
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2003, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2004, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Don't speak of it," Kaede interrupted. She finished the last of the rice, placed the eating sticks down on the tray, and bowed in thanks for the food.

Shizuka sighed. "Arai has no real understanding of the Tribe--how they work, what demands they place on those who belong to them."

"Did he never know that you were from the Tribe?"

"He knew I had ways of finding things out, of passing on messages. He was happy enough to make use of my skills in forming the alliance with Lord Shigeru and Lady Maruyama. He had heard of the Tribe, but like most people he thought they were little more than a guild. That they should have been involved in Iida's death shocked him profoundly, even though he profited from it." She paused and then said quietly, "He has lost all trust in me: I think he wonders how he slept with me so many times without being assassinated himself. Well, we will certainly never sleep together again. That is all over."

"Are you afraid of him? Has he threatened you?"

"He is furious with me," Shizuka replied. "He feels I have betrayed him--worse: made a fool out of him. I do not think he will ever forgive me." A bitter note crept into her voice. "I have been his closest confidante, his lover, his friend, since I was hardly more than a child. I have borne him two sons. Yet, he would have me put to death in an instant were it not for your presence."

"I will kill any man who tries to harm you," Kaede said.

Shizuka smiled. "How fierce you look when you say that!"

"Men die easily." Kaede's voice was flat. "From the prick of a needle, the thrust of a knife. You taught me that."

"But you are yet to use those skills, I hope," Shizuka replied, "though you fought well at Inuyama. Takeo owes his life to you."

Kaede was silent for a moment. Then she said in a low voice, "I did more than fight with the sword. You do not know all of it."

Shizuka stared at her. "What are you telling me? That it was you who killed Iida?" she whispered. Kaede nodded. "Takeo took his head, but he was already dead. I did what you told me. He was going to rape me."

Shizuka grasped her hands. "Never let anyone know that! Not one of these warriors, not even Arai, would let you live."

"I feel no guilt or remorse," Kaede said. "I never did a less shameful deed. Not only did I protect myself but the deaths of many were avenged: Lord Shigeru; my kinswoman, Lady Maruyama, and her daughter; and all the other innocent people whom Iida tortured and murdered."

"Nevertheless, if this became generally known, you would be punished for it. Men would think the world turned upside down if women start taking up arms and seeking revenge."

"My world is already turned upside down," Kaede said. "Still, I must go and see Lord Arai. Bring me..." She broke off and laughed. "I was going to say, 'bring me some clothes,' but I have none. I have nothing!"

"You have a horse," Shizuka replied. "Takeo left the gray for you."

"He left me Raku?" Kaede smiled, a true smile that illuminated her face. She stared into the distance, her eyes dark and thoughtful.

"Lady?" Shizuka touched her on the shoulder.

"Comb out my hair and send a message to Lord Arai to say I will visit him directly."




IT WAS ALMOST completely dark by the time they left the women's rooms and went toward the main guest rooms where Arai and his men were staying. Lights gleamed from the temple, and farther up the slope, beneath the trees, men stood with flaring torches around Lord Shigeru's grave. Even at this hour people came to visit it, bringing incense and offerings, placing lamps and candles on the ground around the stone, seeking the help of the dead man who every day became more of a god to them.

He sleeps beneath a covering of flame, Kaede thought, herself praying silently to Shigeru's spirit for guidance, while she pondered what she should say to Arai. She was the heir to both Shirakawa and Maruyama; she knew Arai would be seeking some strong alliance with her, probably some marriage that would bind her into the power he was amassing. They had spoken a few times during her stay at Inuyama, and again on the journey, but Arai's attention had been taken up with securing the countryside and his strategies for the future. He had not shared these with her, beyond expressing his desire for the Otori marriage to take place. Once-a lifetime ago, it seemed now-she had wanted to be more than a pawn in the hands of the warriors who commanded her fate. Now, with the newfound strength that the icy sleep had given her, she resolved again to take control of her life. I need time, she thought. I must do nothing rashly. I must go home before I make any decisions.

From Grass For His Pillow: Tales of the Otori Part Two by Lian Hearn © August 2003 , Riverhead Books used by permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hot Milk
    Hot Milk
    by Deborah Levy
    When people reach their early 20s, they often choose to go abroad – they want to get away from...
  • Book Jacket: Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    by Joy Williams
    I have to preface this review by saying that I am not a fan of religious fiction - not even books ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book That Matters Most
    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers appreciated the innovative structure of The Book That Matters ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood

    A memorable coming-of-age tale about loyalty, defiance, and the power of love.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach

    "An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut." - Kirkus, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.