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Fudoki

(Love/War/Death #2)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  921 ratings  ·  120 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
...more
Paperback, 316 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by St. Martins Press-3PL (first published October 1st 2003)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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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
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Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Feb 04, 2013 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,
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Amanda
Jan 10, 2016 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
Kaitlin
May 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
I picked this book up as it counted for the challenge of reading a book which focuses on a PoC character, and this one follows a Japanese cat-woman, Kagaya-hime, and a Japanese Princess, Harueme. We follow the story of two lives, the first is our Princess, Harueme, who is now in her late seventies and is reminiscing about her life and the things she misses or enjoyed. We get to follow her tale through her notebooks as she writes in her old age to tell her life story.

We also follow through
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Peter Tillman
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story of a cat who became a woman, in Heian Japan, around 1129 AD. The novel is related to her first novel, The Fox Woman , set in the same era, and there are a couple of related characters in this book. The novel is also related to The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles, http://www.tor.com/2009/07/14/the-cat... , which you may want to read first to get a feel for the setting.

The cat-woman is presented as a story within a story, "as told by" a contemporary princess who, in story-now, is dying
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Alan
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cat people
Recommended to Alan by: Peter T., and subsequent work
A blank notebook demands words. Which words? I wonder.
p.16
Princess Harueme is nearing the end of her life. The pain and heaviness in her chest is undeniable. She is saying farewell to her friends and servants, preparing to leave her great-grandnephew the Emperor's court and become a nun for the brief time she has remaining. This is during the Daiji era (1129 C.E.), not very long after cats first came to the Eight Islands of what we now call Japan. Among her accumulated trunks and boxes, Harueme
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Phoenixfalls
Sep 30, 2010 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
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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 ...more
Margaret
Feb 05, 2008 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.
Catherine
Feb 21, 2009 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
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Kris
Dec 02, 2011 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.
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Philippa Mary
Feb 26, 2016 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
Nina
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A captivating tale, written in the form of an old woman telling a story. Reading it reminds me of fairy tales read to me as a child. The language is beautiful and, well, it tells the story of a cat, so if you love cats, you will love this book!
Kelley Ceccato
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I wont say DNF. I do want to finish it one day. The prose in this thing is absolutely gorgeous, full of lines that shine like diamonds.

Alas, the narrative flows like wet cement. Maybe later.
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William Leight
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
[3.5 stars really]

Fudoki consists of two stories. The first is about a cat who, after the death of her clan (in the story, cats live in clans) in a fire, decides to strike out along the road that runs north from Kyoto, and is turned into a woman partway there by the spirit (or kami) of the road. Subsequently she makes friends with a noblewoman she meets on the road and ends up being involved in a small but vicious war between noble families in the north, which is technically part of the Japanese
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Kim
Mar 18, 2011 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
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Tom Whalley
Jun 30, 2013 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
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Sadie Forsythe
Feb 05, 2012 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
...more
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
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
Patricia J. O'Brien
Sep 22, 2015 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
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Lydia
Jan 02, 2015 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
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Michael
260910: set in historic japan, written by an american, this fantasy is possibly a typical japanese ghost story, elaborated. there are two threads of plot: the writer, a very old princess, and the written, a cat who becomes human and has adventures that reflect her cat-nature. an interesting portrayal of an imagined fantasy story from a sheltered life. the politics, the times, the revenge that offers only bittersweet resolution: you killed some enemies, they killed some of you. a fantasy neither ...more
Yune
May 09, 2007 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.
robyn
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you were to pick a book for every season, my brother said last night, spring would have to be Secret Garden. For winter... maybe The Dark is Rising.

We got no further than that. I might choose the LotR trilogy for autumn, because of that bittersweet sense of loss and fulfillment that I always feel at its conclusion, but then I choose LotR for a lot of things.

Fudoki is not a seasonal book, save perhaps in the sense that our lives themselves have seasons. In that case, it might feel like autumn
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SWC
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kij Johnson is a master of quiet, unassuming prose. Unlike some fantasy I have read Johnsons pacing is measured, it does not throw the reader between dramatic battle scenes and trite monologues about good and evil, instead she dwells on bright details and allows for her characters to grow. War, magic, and battle are elements in Johnsons story but they remain parts of the narrative never drowning out the whole. Fantasy seems to be the genre with the most potential, the authors imagination is the ...more
Ericka
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction, ebook
I enjoyed this book more than The Fox Woman. It had better characters and a better story.

Both Kagaya-hime and Harume are interesting and likable, but you never get overly familiar with them since they are both people who tend to stand apart from others either due to social status or the fact that cats are just very aloof. Although the story had an overall melancholy tone, it had a hopeful ending.

My only complaint is the way that the author uses Japanese words. She will write the phrase
...more
Denise
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, supernatural
This is a very interesting book with two main characters: the cat turned woman turned warrior Kagaya-hime and the elderly Japanese princess Harumae. Kagaya-hime is the character in a story being told/written about by Harumae. Both characters wrestle with loneliness and strictures that prevent them from being able to participate fully in the worlds into which they have been thrust. But at the same time, neither woman can take her place in the world in which she longs to be (for Kagaya-hime, this ...more
Mauri
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it
A Japanese princess of the Heian period, elderly and dying, uses the notebooks she finds while cleaning out her rooms one last time to write a tale of a cat transformed into a woman.

I grew to like the skillful interweaving of Harueme's past and present with Kagaya-hime's story, but I was more entranced at the beginning when Kagaya-hime was still a cat. What can I say, I'm consistent? I did enjoy Harueme's interactions with and observations of her attendant, Shigeko, as well as the conclusion,
...more
Mary-Jean Harris
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book: it was very unusual and had a mystical feel to it. At first, I didn't like that there were 2 stories at once, the Princess Harueme's story of her growing old and remembering her past, and the story she was telling about the cat-woman Kagaya-Hime. But as the story progressed, I found that it couldn't have been told any other way. The story of Harueme is tied to Kagaya-Hime, and we learn more about both characters through their counterparts.
And as for Kagaya-Hime, she was not
...more
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Beautifully Writt...: First Impressions 3 15 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

Other books in the series

Love/War/Death (2 books)
  • The Fox Woman (Love/War/Death, #1)

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16 likes · 27 comments
“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.” 23 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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