Brilliance of the Moon (Tales of the Otori #3)
by Lian Hearn
A holy woman prophesied to Takeo that his lands would stretch from sea to sea. Now that he and Kaede have married, they can turn their attention to reclaiming the lands of the Shirakawa, Maruyama and Otori. As always, there are difficulties. Takeo leaves Kaede to recruit the pirates of Oshima Island to his cause, but foul weather delays his return. She decides to fetch her sisters from her childhood home, but when she arrives in the Shirakawa domain she finds that her steward has mismanaged the land and her sisters are now the prisoners of Lord Fujiwara. Kaede goes to retrieve them, but ends up a prisoner herself, forced to marry Fujiwara. If Takeo is to fulfill the prophecy, he’s going to need some serious help to overcome the many obstacles in his path.
The bloody finale to Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori trilogy brings this tale of destiny to a satisfying conclusion. It’s very action-packed, as our hero moves quickly from one battle to the next. Not a lot of new characters are introduced, although several whom we haven’t seen in a while pop up again.
The idea of fate taking control pops up again and again. Takeo believes he will succeed because of the prophecy, but in his darkest hour even this knowledge can’t erase his doubts and fears. When he ultimately prevails, it feels very forced. I can’t really discuss it without spoilers. If this had been a stand-alone story, the ending would be a cliché and incredibly disappointing. But because the idea of fate and inevitability has been woven into the narrative throughout the series, it almost works. Almost. It’s still a bit too deus ex machina for me, though.
I really, really liked The Tales of the Otori. It’s very epic and memorable, with great characters and distinctive writing. Two more books were written after the original trilogy – a sequel in 2006 and a prequel in 2007 – and I’m sure I’ll read them eventually, but I can’t believe I somehow missed these books when they were first released.
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