09/03/2003 Entry: "Edith weighs in -- GRASS FOR HIS PILLOW & COYOTE COWBOY"
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This is the second book in the Otori series and it typifies why I hate, truly HATE, reading trilogies in dribs. It was a huge struggle to remember who the secondary characters were and it didn't help that one Japanese name sounds much like another. There's an index of characters at the beginning of the book and I wasted quite a bit of time referring to it a lot at first. I seriously considered waiting till the third book came out, but I read the end and it seemed happy so I plodded on.
In this book the heroine Kaede goes home and finds that war and typhoon have caused much destruction. The people are desperately poor, hungry, and unhappy. Her only salvation is a powerful, creepy neighboring lord who is very interested in her. He collects objects of beauty and Kaede is not only beautiful, she's mysterious. He finds her fascinating and she walks a fine line as she encourages his interest to pry money out of him while keeping him at bay.
Meanwhile, the hero Takeo joins the secretive, brutal Tribe. He must learn obedience, discipline, and must burnish his skills as a fighter and assassin. It's not a happy life. He knows that if he leaves the Tribe, they won't rest till they kill him. Does he have the strength and skills to leave? Can he live as a hunted man for the rest of his life?
My recommendation is to wait till all three books come out before reading them. They're definitely worth reading but to read them one at a time, months apart, ruins the magic and continuity. That's a darn shame since the story is interesting and well told. Hearn also does a great job world-building and creating interesting secondary characters.--Edith
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I also read COYOTE COWGIRL by Kim Antieu. I'd recommend it, but only mildly. Something about the author's voice struck a wrong chord with me. I also realize now I'm not much of a fan of magical realism. Didn't care much for Hoffman's PRACTICAL MAGIC. I thought Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS and William Sanders' BALLAD OF BILLY BADASS were interesting, but not particularly wonderful. The woo-woo parts of these books didn't convince me. They felt artificial and tacked on.--Edith