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Fudoki (Love/War/Death #2)

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  750 Ratings  ·  93 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
Paperback, 316 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Tor Books (first published October 1st 2003)
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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
Feb 18, 2013 Algernon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013

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,
Jun 23, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it
This was really great! At its core it's about isolation and loneliness and eventually making a home for oneself. It has a dual narrative: Harueme is an elderly dying princess writing the tale of Kagaya-hime, a cat-turned-human with no family, no home, and no fudoki. As Kagaya-hime embarks on a journey to forget the pain and loss in her past, Harueme begins to reflect upon her life and pass judgments on what truly mattered over the years. This book talks a lot about grief and mortality, which I ...more
Nesa Sivagnanam
Mar 06, 2012 Nesa Sivagnanam rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 02, 2010 Phoenixfalls rated it it was amazing
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
May 14, 2010 Margaret rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 21, 2009 Catherine rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 17, 2011 Kris rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, japan
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.
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 ...more
Philippa Mary
Apr 06, 2016 Philippa Mary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
This was fantasy like I have never read before - it is really a mix of fantasy and historical fiction. It is such a unique book based on Japanese myth that is beautifully written - it is an adventure that will have you engaged until the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed the two storylines of Harueme and the cat woman Kagaya-hime, and it is the type of book that you just don't want to end. Johnson did a phenomenal job at making both narratives engaging and I can't pick a favourite. I also loved the ...more
Apr 18, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it
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
Tom Whalley
Mar 07, 2014 Tom Whalley rated it liked it
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
Dec 31, 2015 Zarah rated it really liked it
It took me a full 120 pages to finally get truly interested in this book. It's jut so very slow. Now, it's meant to be. It's about a dying old woman who, while writing a fictional story, is contemplated her life. From the very beginning there was a lot to think about, but I was honestly bored. However, once Hime becomes human things pick up a little...or maybe I had finally just adjusted to the slow pace.

But once I got past the slow pace, I was really impressed with this as a contemplation on p
Patricia J. O'Brien
Oct 04, 2015 Patricia J. O'Brien rated it really liked it
Fudoki is an amazing book but won't be for everyone. It is slow, sort of meditative in style, following the preparation for death of an aged princess. She is cleaning out her belongings, including many notebooks of writing, but she finds she needs to fill some blank ones with one last story.

That tale of a cat who loses her home and travels far, turning into a cat-woman and warrior as she journeys, mingles with Princess Harueme's memories of her sequestered life and of her lost dreams.

Their stori
Mar 14, 2015 Lydia added it
Shelves: 2015
This was a lovely little tale. I can tell that it's not a favourite, because I didn't devour it or feel any need to be completely immersed in the novels, but it was lovely.

The way that Johnson flicked between the tale of Kagaya-hime, Harueme's present life, and Harueme's past, was wonderfully done and it never confused me. There's nothing more irritating than an author writing a story in this convoluted way, but not having the skill to do it well.

The relationship between Harueme and Shigeko was
May 09, 2007 Yune rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Aaron Carson
Nov 26, 2016 Aaron Carson rated it really liked it
Amazing how totally different the world created in this book was from Fox Woman. As the reader, I felt I could breath, as soon as I opened the front page. I suppose it's a compliment to the author, that I have no idea what appealed to me so much more about this book than the first. She certainly crafted both worlds in such a way, that all my reactions were visceral, and I had no real opportunity to analyze what was happening inside my brain.

Perhaps I'm more of a cat person. Perhaps I simply lik
Elizabeth Spencer
Apr 28, 2016 Elizabeth Spencer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Fudoki is a Japanese kami-story about a Heian-era princess and the story she writes in her journals. Princess Harueme, an old woman and half-sister to a former emperor, is dying. While she waits for her condition to get bad enough to require her to leave the palace, she writes a monogatari-tale about a cat who learns to speak to the kami, is transformed into a woman, and becomes a warrior-woman named Kagaya-hime.

Fudoki is essentially a story about Harueme coming to terms with her death. She spen
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
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
Rk Stark
Sep 19, 2016 Rk Stark rated it really liked it
I enjoyed that the author really focused on keeping the cat-turned-woman cat-like. The author explores the ravages of war and the painful affects of war fare on humans by deftly weaving the tale of the cat-woman who doesn't understand war fare and the memories of the author of the tale of the cat-woman. It's a fascinating read and while the author seems to have no expertise in Japanese history or culture, I did not find her treatment of the Japanese culture or history to be offensive or ...more
May 30, 2015 Eskana rated it liked it
Fudoki... what a different book!

I went into this knowing very little- I found the inside cover description pretty confusing, and even as I started I had a hard time understanding what "fudoki" meant. The story itself is really two twined together...
Harume, the daughter and sister and aunt etc. of Japanese emperors, is dying, and in her old age she begins to think about the biggest moments of her life. As she remembers her own story, she begins to craft another, the story of a cat who is left wit
"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
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
Jan 23, 2008 Mary-Beth rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 16, 2012 Tiffany rated it did not like it
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
Sa Toya
Jun 14, 2010 Sa Toya rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 06, 2012 Stefanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan-historical, sff
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
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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Beautifully Writt...: First Impressions 3 14 Feb 03, 2016 04:25PM  
Plot of book *spoiler thread* 1 2 Nov 19, 2015 09:32AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Fudoki by Kij Johnson 1 14 Jan 25, 2015 07:20PM  
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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 ...more
More about Kij Johnson...

Other Books in the Series

Love/War/Death (2 books)
  • The Fox Woman

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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.” 16 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.” 6 likes
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