Grass for His Pillow is the second book in the Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hearn. Don't miss the related series, The Tale of Shikanoko.
Praised for its epic scope and descriptive detail, Across the Nightingale Floor, the first book in the Tales of the Otori series, was an international bestseller and critical success, named by the London Times as "the most compelling novel to have been published this year." With Grass for His Pillow, Book Two, we return to the medieval Japan of Lian Hearn's creation—a land of harsh beauty and deceptive appearances.
In a complex social hierarchy, amid dissembling clans and fractured allegiances, there is no place for passionate young love. The orphan Takeo has been condemned to work as an assassin—an enforced occupation that his father sacrificed his own life to escape. Meanwhile, Takeo’s beloved Shirakawa Kaede, heir to the Murayama and alone in the world, must find a way to unify the domain she has inherited, as she fights off the advances of would-be suitors and hopes against fading hope that Takeo will return to her...
The pseudonymous Hearn's second thrilling installment of her Tales of the Otori trilogy (after 2002's Across the Nightingale Floor) is once again set in a magic-haunted version of medieval Japan where no one wields unchallenged authority and no one is safe. The swirl of treacherous, shifting clan alliances threatens to overwhelm young lovers and aristocrats Takeo and Kaede. Separated throughout most of the action, the two must develop their talents while trying to maintain their integrity. Takeo possesses superhuman gifts such as the ability to become invisible, project a double image of himself and hear distant conversations; however, he must discipline his skills and control his impetuous temper. He also must work out his relationship with the Tribe, a treacherous secret organization of spies and assassins that saved his life but that may have murdered his father. Kaede, meanwhile, has to escape the powerless role of a woman if she is to protect herself and her family domain from predatory neighbors. Adept at creating vivid natural settings where the supernatural feels unusually plausible, 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. Hearn shows that middle novels of trilogies don't have to simply fill space between an exciting opening and conclusion.