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Fudoki

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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  530 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Enter the world of Kagaya-hime, a sometime woman warrior, occasional philosopher, and reluctant confidante to noblemen--who may or may not be a figment of the imagination of an aging empress who is embarking on the last journey of her life, setting aside the trappings of court life and reminiscing on the paths that lead her to death.

For she is a being who started her journ
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Paperback, 316 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Tor Books (first published October 1st 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,409)
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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
How have so few people read this book? I will have to pimp it all over Goodreads now because Fudoki is simply lovely.

This book is two stories rolled into one. In 12th century Japan, Harueme, an elderly princess, sits down to write a story that's just itching to get out: of a cat who's turned into a woman and a warrior and has the adventures Harueme never had. Harueme's memoirs intertwine with the story of the cat, without real boundaries between the two. This might be best described as historica
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Algernon

Cats are too fierce for gods; they came godless from Korea many tens of years ago, and they worship no one. This is good, for they are free in ways men are not; but this is bad, because they are utterly alone in the world.

Fudoki is the story of a cat, told by a princess trapped in her rooms by old age, tradition and ill health. But like any great story, it is much more than the surface detail. It is about freedom and courage, love and friendship, conflict and poetry. Set in 11th Century Japan,
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Nesa Sivagnanam
Fudoki by Kij Johnson. I have to admit that I picked up the book because the cover illustration is of a Japanese warrior cat woman.

The story is set in a Japanese myth-influenced universe and revolves around Kagaya-hime. She may be a woman. She's sometimes a warrior or a philosopher or even a reluctant friend. She may truly be a cat or perhaps is a figment of the imagination of a dying princess.

The tale moves between the princess who might be making it up and writing it down in the twilight of he
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Phoenixfalls
Oct 02, 2010 Phoenixfalls rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Patricia McKillip & Catherynne Valente
First, I have to say, that jacket description is riddled with so many small inaccuracies about this story that I was tempted not to include it. They aren't fundamentally important inaccuracies -- though it is very important to realize that the "she" referred to at the start of the second paragraph is Kagaya-hime, not the "aging empress" who isn't an empress at all -- but it bugs me now that I've read the story to see how wrong it is. Ah well, moving on.

This is a wonderful book, sure to appeal to
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Catherine
Feb 21, 2009 Catherine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jenn, Lacy, Megan
Shelves: 2009, siri, japan
This is an extraordinarily beautiful book, written in clear, sweet, lyrical prose that I found so calming, I could only read it before bed. (A bizarre quirk of mine, perhaps? But I tried to read this over breakfast one morning, and found my thoughts - racing ahead to anticipate the day - completely unsuited to the gracefulness of the prose, and so I made it a bedtime-only read.)

There are two stories in this book - that of the elderly Princess Harueme, and that of Kagaya-hime, a cat who takes on
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Siria
I cannot remember who it was who recommended this novel to me, so I will just have to thank the happy serendipity which caused my eye to fall upon it while I was pottering around in the Forbidden Planet in London, and made me pick it up. The prose is a delight--vivid and subtle and precise--full of insights which are sharp without ever being overstated. Johnson also manages to interweave the two main strands of the story incredibly well--of Princess Harueme, old and slowly dying, and of the cat- ...more
Margaret
Fudoki is an entrancing fantasy set in medieval Japan. Johnson skillfully interweaves the reminiscences of an aging princess with the tale the princess is writing of a woman turned into a cat, who may or may not exist outside the princess's imagination. The language is exquisitely precise, with never a wasted word, and the portrayal of medieval Japan brilliantly vivid.
Tom Whalley
I can't seem objective about this book and I won't even try. Fudoki is a great dang book about cats and the people who love them.

The novel follows two stories. First is the story of an elderly Japanese princess with lung cancer, in feudal times, as she comes to terms with her death and muses on her life. She reflects back on the servants she has lived with, the people she has loved and the way her life had lead down. It's quiet and reflective, in the way that any good book about someone who is d
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Kris
Ancient Japan fascinates me and I can't think of a more interesting time that Heian-kyo, 11th century in Japan's old capital now known as Kyoto.

While this story takes place in late Heian - 1129, I believe the author mentioned - it has all the charm and cultural nuances one would expect. Sei Shonagan finds her name in these pages, as does Murasaki Shikibu. We read about ancient Japanese marriage customs and war and seiges. We learn about the life of the gods that govern and of times of hardship.
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Kim
I was a little disappointed after reading this book because I had first read The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson and the voice of the narrative was so different. What I had liked most about The Fox Woman was the way it was written: very wistful and almost romantic while still remaining mystical and supernatural. I also loved the poems written by each of the characters. None of that was in this sequel.

When I first started to read, the tragedy that occurred to the tortoiseshell cat drew me in and I want
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Yune
May 09, 2007 Yune rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Japanese folktale enthusiasts, cat-lovers
One of the few times I've been equally enthralled by two entwined narratives, instead of skipping through to read about my favorite character. In historical Japan, a cat loses the story of her bloodline, and must deal with her grief when she is turned human; an empress is dying, and begins writing her own tale.

I've also found Johnson to be one of the few convincing Western writers of an Asian perspective.
Amanda
I’m not usually big into fantasy, particularly not ones involving court life, but I am a real sucker for any story involving cats, especially if that cat is a tortoiseshell, since I’m the proud kitty mommy of a talkative tortie. This book didn’t just not disappoint me, it blew me away with two side-by-side, related by different, thoughtful tales.

I had no idea when I picked up the book that the empress would figure into the story quite so much. At first I was a bit irritated that she was a) getti
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Evan Jensen
Sorrow for mortality and the desire to alter things from what they are. These are the overwhelming tones of the book. Great characterization and unique portrayal of anthropomorphized animal character.
Bruna Bellini
I didn't like the book. I tried but I really didn't like it!

For me, the characters wasn't that kind that you really feel connected with it.

Hime is very cat like, huh? Independent, free of sentimentals towards the others. (That's why i prefer dogs.)

While reading it, i felt like i was watching the movie Genji Monogatari. But i enjoyed the movie, while this book was really boring! The dialogs on the book are very poor and very annoying!
It was so hard to finish it!
It's nice to read a book with ja
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Sanne
Sometimes there are books that come along and happen to be just what you needed at that moment. That was Fudoki for me: the right book at the right time. I've read it with so much joy that, in the moments that I couldn't read, I was waiting for the time when I could pick it up again. It's been a while since a book has been that gripping.

The story is just the right mix between historical fiction and fantasy. The fantastic flows effortlessly from the spiritual beliefs and the folklore of Heian era
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Stefanie
Impossible to read without comparing it to the author's other novel, The Fox Woman. Like that one, this is set in historical / fantastical Japan, and examines animal spirit in human form. Johnson's writing is just as atmospheric in Fudoki, though I found the characters and subject matter a little bit more grounded, and their stories more easily relatable. Perhaps this is due to the nature of Johnson's animal subject in this one: a cat. However in this one the animal story doesn't dominate as in ...more
Sa Toya
This is a book I borrowed from the library but I WILL be buying it as well as The Fox Woman and I'll surely read it again and again.

It's a story within a story told in 'medieval' Japan. Johnson's writing style is crisp clear and vivid; allowing the reader to see, feel and experience both worlds in her book.

Her subtle style allows for both stories in the book to intertwine and mingle seamlessly. The stories are that of Princess Harueme is is old and dying. She decides to fill up the empty noteboo
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Kaila
"Every cat is an echo of the first cat I knew, the little nun, Shisutako."

"And it was twilight one day in the ninth month, and the world was shades of dim purple, like my subtlest robes. The little nun stepped slowly off the veranda to a stone, and then to the round gravel of my courtyard, her fur taking on the same lilac tones as the air. She made her unsteady way toward the mossy shadows beneath a copse of red and white pine in the gardens. "Wait-" I said to her, but she was well beyond the so
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Delicious Strawberry
At 4.5/5 stars, Fudoki is a entertaining and fascinating read. If you've enjoyed 'The Fox Woman', you will enjoy this book. The main character in question here is a cat rather than a fox. At first you wonder why she is on this journey, but the events that transpire along the journey make it interesting. The parts of the story from the Princess' point of view are also interesting and educational, though if I were a Princess in that era, I'd be bored due to the restrictions. Personally, I feel the ...more
Sara
Fudoki was an absolutely wonderful book. It took me a long time to read because it was that type of book--a slow, thought-provoking story with many layers of meaning--and I was so glad that I took the time to savor it.

So, this tale is set in medieval Japan and has its roots in Japanese mythology. There are several layers to the tale. It's not really a frame story, but more like a weave story in which two narratives are influenced by each other and comment (directly or indirectly) on the other s
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Shel
Sep 17, 2010 Shel added it
The voice of Kij Johnson's Fudoki (and it's predecessor The Fox Woman) reminds me of reading the oversized Golden book of Japanese Fairy Tales given to me by my Japanese aunt — tales such as "Sima and The Big Hat" and "The Man Who Made the Trees Bloom" — with beautiful, full-page illustrations. Set in medieval Japan, with a touch of enchantment, Fudoki offers a shifting narrative: the first person account of a dying princess and the story she is telling about a tortoiseshell cat who turns into a ...more
Tiffany
I really wanted to like this book. It seemed to be precisely my style: cats, poetic prose, cultural backdrop, a bildungsroman--what more could I ask for? I ordered my copy online and anxiously awaited the day of its arrival.

Unfortunately, none of the reviews I had read on Goodreads (or anywhere else, for that matter) mentioned any warning about the content. Given the considerable amount, I'm surprised. Perhaps it doesn't affect other readers as much as it does me. I am left unable recommend this
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Mary-Beth
I loved this book, probably because I have a thing for storytelling within storytelling and for a good bit of unexplained magic. This story is told both from the perspective of a cat who gets turned into a woman after a tragic fire (AKA Kagaya-hime) and from the perspective of a cloistered court woman named Harueme who is writing the fictional (or not fictional) tale of the cat. The cat becomes a strong warrior woman who defies conventions - the sort of woman whom Harueme would greatly desire to ...more
April
Very good fantasy novel that winds back and forth between 2 stories; a cat who loses her home and family and then goes on a long journey, turning into a woman midway through, and the author of that story, a court princess who has never married and never left home. While she has had many lovers, she has only had one love. She is dying, and spends her last days unpacking both the physical and mental storage trunks of her life, as well as writing the story of the cat-woman. My description sounds ve ...more
Ea_colon
A fairly long and meandering tale that serves more to immerse you in the culture and history of 1100's Japan. Don't be fooled by all the material about the cat-woman story. That is a story told in a series of diary entries from an old dying princess that make up the entirety of this book. A little misleading but also good because I found myself drawn more to the narrator's(princess') story and voice than that of the ostensible main character. There is an author's note in the back with the books ...more
Ann Marie
to be honest I only read half of this book...but I did like the half I read...it just made me sleepy...I could only read a couple chapters at a time and then I would seriously need a nap so there was no reading anytime of day but right before bed and therefore was taking way to long to finish while other books sat on the table begging for my attention...perhaps I will get back to it eventually...the story itself is to be the writing of a grandmotherly type woman who is waiting on death...she spe ...more
Sarah
What really made this book for me was the narrator. I adore the narrator. She is wonderful and just a little bit ridiculous, but she knows when she is ridiculous and freely admits it.

The main character of the narrator's story, The Cat Who Became a Woman, alternated between being a little too passive and being very endearing. It was confusing -- I'm still not sure whether I love her or dislike her.

The ending felt a little anti-climactic -- I was expecting something more. This is the main reason i
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Gloriavirtutisumbra
This was, in a word, delightful. Half Tale of Genji, half japanese folk tale. Johnson does a wonderful job keeping all of the characters believable, and even when the story turns dark with war and death, she keeps it alive. I'm not sure which heroine I cared about most. The Cat turned woman, the dying half sister to the emperor, or lady on pilgrimage. I wont describe them more than that, since it is the act of reading the book that makes their story magical. You need to meet them for yourself.
Kristopher Sandberg
This book is beautiful. Not exactly action-packed, not exactly fast-paced, but with a wealth of thoughtful, delicate prose, and characters you come to love quickly in the short space of time you spend with them. It's set in Heian-era Japan, but you don't need to know anything about that time and place to love the story and the storyteller. If I had to compare it to anything, it would be sort of like Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn crossed with Dick Wittington's Cat -- but really that descript ...more
Carrie
Jul 09, 2013 Carrie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Heian Japan, cats, kami, and a descriptive and fluid writing style
This book is beautiful. The characters are interesting, the writing is incredibly graceful and a joy to read. The prose is aptly poetic for a Heian tale. I find the construction of the novel fascinating, with Kagaya-hime’s story-within-a-story and Harueme’s story weaving back in forth, each developing Harueme’s character, and thus giving insight into Kagaya-hime. I bought the book for Kagaya-hime and ended up reading it for Harueme--her drabbles became quite engaging to me.

I found everything to
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Kij Johnson is an American writer of fantasy. She has worked extensively in publishing: managing editor for Tor Books and Wizards of the Coast/TSR, collections editor for Dark Horse Comics, project manager working on the Microsoft Reader, and managing editor of Real Networks. She is Associate Director for the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, and serves as a fina ...more
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“Cats have a sort of game they play when they meet. A player alternates between watching the strange cat and ignoring her, grooming or examining everything around herself - a dead leaf, a cloud - with complete absorption. It is almost accidental how the two cats approach, a sidelong step and then the sitting again. This often ends in a flurry of spitting and slashing claws, too fast to see clearly, and then one or the other (or both) of the cats leap out of range. The game can have one exchange or many - and is not so different from the first meetings of women.” 14 likes
“We ascribe meanings because it is our nature to do so..We can no more see a thing without searching for a meaning than we can see a snag in a robe without pulling on the loose thread.” 4 likes
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