Grass for His Pillow by Lian Hearn

Why I Read It: Was mightily entertained by Book 1 (Across the Nightingale Floor)

Where I Got It: Audible.com

Who I Recommend This To: Those who enjoy adventure stories set in ancient Japan with a love angle.

Narrators: Kevin Gray and Aiko Nakasone

Publisher: HighBridge Company (2003)

Length:~9.5 hours

Grass for His Pillow is Book 2 in the Tales of the Otori series, continuing the beautiful story of Takeo Otori and Kaede Shirikawa. Lian Hearn created a world of hidden shadows, mysteries, and delicately trained warriors, spies, and assassins. This follows through in Book 2, but with a bit more aggression.

We learn more about The Tribe and their militant structural need for complete obedience from it’s members. At the end of Book 1, Takeo made an agreement with The Tribe – to join them willingly for their assistance. We pick up right where we left off at the end of Book 1 and follow along on Takeo’s shoulder as he undergoes basic training, Tribe style. He’s in for a rough time, as he has already made Tribe enemies.

Kaede is understandably deeply saddened at Takeo’s choice. She returns home to find her mother has passed, her sisters are near-strangers, her father lives in disgrace with addled wits, and the family in whole is impoverished. And this is where Kaede starts to shine – by taking control of the situation. Her character was interesting in Book 1, but definitely was less developed than Takeo’s; it was good to see her develop into a strong woman of her own.

We also learn more about the Otori clan, Shigaru’s past, and Takeo’s parents. Lots of questions that were asked in Book 1 are answered in Book 2, followed, of course, by more questions. Which is why I am eager to read the next in the series.

Kevin Gray and Aiko Nakasone kept their established personas from Book 1 in Book 2 (something I always appreciate in audio books). Gray’s voice is Takeo and Nakasone’s voice is Kaede; if I ever read these books in paper/electronic form, it is their voices I will hear for these characters.

What I Liked: How the book bounces back and forth in point of view between Kaede and Takeo; learning more of The Tribe, Takeo’s powers, Kaede’s strength; the beautiful, simple language of the story.

What I Disliked: Occasionally, I feel like Nakasone paces herself too slowly in reading (of course, this may just be my eagerness to enjoy the story).

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