Review: Lian Hearn – Tales of the Otori 1: Across the Nightingale Floor

Across the Nightingale Floor
Lian Hearn
Taeko has lost his family, his life and everything precious to him. Now he is a pawn for getting revenge on the warlord that rules most of the country. The nightingale floor will sing if he stands on it – is he up to the challenge?
77160Despite my little blurb there, it doesn’t feel like the nightingale floor is actually that important. Most of this novel is about the respective journeys of Taeko and Kaede towards the evil Iida. Taeko makes such a willful apprentice, it’s a wonder he ever gets anything done! Shigeru could have had a bit more airtime in my opinion.
I found myself wanting to sit in my car to listen to it, far after I should have been at work. I’m thinking that’s a good sign. Some parts were just so suspenseful I couldn’t bear to leave. This even held true after I looked at the wikipedia page to find out the name of the book in the series, and accidentally looked at the synopsis.
Whoever translated this novel (from I think Japanese??) did a great job. The turns of phrase were natural, although I found it more difficult to keep track of the characters because of their foreign sounding names.
I actually really enjoyed this novel. The readers on my talking book were great, particularly the male one. His voice was soothing, and yet rose to the occasion at points of tension. The female narrator was a little more sketchy, but ok.
While I was looking up how to spell the author’s name, I stumbled over a rather scathing review, that said that the characters were weak and the settings completely unrealistic. While I agree that Kaede was a bit of a sook, I still liked Taeko. And the lack of description was perfect for a talking book that I wanted to listen to while driving – no distractions!

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