Review: Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn

May Contain Spoilers

I have a few reservations about this book. The first being the publisher’s decision to break the story into 4 overpriced chunks. This is a short novel, about 275 pages, and it’s far from a complete story. The ending is abrupt and jarring; not really an ending at all. The last page is more like a commercial break, so you can scrape together to 1o bucks to purchase the next installment. Hopefully my local library will acquire a copy of all future books in the series.

My other concern is all of the questionable consent, and the one no freaking doubt about it rape, conducted by one of the heroes. I had a real problem with most of these scenes, mainly because they did nothing to move the story along and seemed pointless for their inclusion.

This is an odd mix of historical fiction and fantasy. I loved the setting, and the political wrangling was interesting, mainly to see who was going to suffer some disastrous setback due to the pride and ambitions of others. The writing felt a bit flat, though, and the author’s stark writing style occasionally failed to hold my attention. Then some supernatural event would occur, and I would be immersed in the story again, but I can’t say I was ever engrossed by the narrative.

Grade: C+

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

In the opening pages of the action-packed Book One of Lian Hearn’s epic Tale of Shikanoko series–all of which will be published in 2016–a future lord is dispossessed of his birthright by a scheming uncle, a mountain sorcerer imbues a mask with the spirit of a great stag for a lost young man, a stubborn father forces his son to give up his wife to his older brother, and a powerful priest meddles in the succession to the Lotus Throne, the child who is the rightful heir to the emperor barely escaping the capital in the arms of his sister. And that is just the beginning.

As destiny weaves its rich tapestry, a compelling drama plays out against a background of wild forests, elegant castles, hidden temples, and savage battlefields. This is the medieval Japan of Lian Hearn’s imagination, where animal spirits clash with warriors and children navigate a landscape as serene as it is deadly.