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The Emperor of the Eight Islands

(The Tale of Shikanoko #1)

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  2,101 ratings  ·  326 reviews
An ambitious warlord leaves his nephew for dead and seizes his lands.

A stubborn father forces his younger son to surrender his wife to his older brother.

A mysterious woman seeks five fathers for her children.

A powerful priest meddles in the succession to the Lotus Throne.

These are the threads of an intricate tapestry in which the laws of destiny play out against a backdrop
Paperback, 251 pages
Published April 26th 2016 by FSG Originals
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Jeffrey The book is written in a spare style which I think is similar to what I've read in various books about myths and folklore. It is definitely different…moreThe book is written in a spare style which I think is similar to what I've read in various books about myths and folklore. It is definitely different than most modern fiction in the absence of extreme detail or stylistic flourishes in the writing. Personally, I don't mind the tone or style at all and I think it is perfectly suitable for the subject matter.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,101 ratings  ·  326 reviews

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Althea Ann
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Lian Hearn's become known for her Japanese-tinged fantasies. I'd previously read the first installation of her 'Tales of the Otori,' 'Across The Nightingale Floor,' and thought it was quite well-done, if a little bit more juvenile-feeling than I'd expected. Although the protagonist of 'Emperor of the Eight Islands' is also a young man (also an orphaned and adopted one, as well), the tale here is quite a bit darker. And of course, we're still in pseudo-Japan.

After his father's death, Shikanoko ha
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016

"Have I been here before?" Kazumaru said. Behind him the wolf howled.
"In this life or another."
And maybe he had. Who knew where the soul voyaged while the body slept? Perhaps it had the strange familiarity of dreams.

The setting is familiar : Lian Hearn has used a similar setting for her "Tales of the Otori" , a fantay epic based on Medieval Japan. The wait between the two series was worth it, because "Shikanoko" reads like the revised and improved version of the overtly romantic, slightly Y.A.
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Most disillusioned and disenchanted and disappointed I am, for the Slightly Wondrous Tales of the Otori this ain't not. Quite the bummer indeed this is.

Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was an amazing tale, and I am excited to finish the remainder of this series. It is a feudal Japanese fantasy through and through, with wild Tengu, WereHawks, and Mountain Sorcerers with command of dark spirits. Each chapter is written from a specific characters viewpoint and it transitions between them very naturally in a very Song of Ice and Fire fashion.

After the first chapter I had assumed it would be a tale mainly for youngsters, and in some ways it is, but there are some very adult si
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is the first of a new series of four books set in the same medieval, feudal Japanese-like world as Hearn's 'Tales of the Otori'. It tells of the the complex plotting to change the natural succession to the emperor's throne. It is a tale of warring factions, brother turned against brother, plots to murder children to steal their heritage and through it all is woven threads of magic and sorcery making it read like classic mythology.

The main character is Shikanoko who is thought to have been
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Have you ever been absolutely loving a book, when suddenly the ending splashes a bucket of cold water on you? That was my experience with EMPEROR OF THE EIGHT ISLANDS.

EMPEROR OF THE EIGHT ISLANDS is the first book in The Tale of Shikanoko, the new series from Lian Hearn. There are four books, all to be published before July from Farrar, Straus and Giroux's (fairly new) digital imprint. I still intend to read the second book, AUTUMN PRINCESS, DRAGON CHILD, but it is going to have to work to earn
Marguerite (M)
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, 2017, first-in-series, arc
Rating : Er... 1.5 stars ?
DNF'd 60%

Nope nopety nope nope.
Sorry, I can't.

I tell you guys, I LOVED The Otori Tales. I read the three books from the original trilogy in a weekend when the third book came out. It was SO good, and I think the first book may be the book i cried the most reading. Really.
And I was so happy to get my hands on this book ! But unfortunatly, it didn't go well.

1. Teens and YA ? Are you kidding me ? I maybe prudish or oldfashioned or whatever, you can't give this book to a k
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This author has an ease to her writing that I found extremely comforting. The story flowed so well that I didn't even realize how far into the book I had gotten at points. I loved the setting, the characters and story held my interest, and by the end I really wanted to know how the whole thing resolves. Add a new series to the TBR, this one's a keeper!
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was able to read this novel as an ARC at my library.

This slim volume reads more like the first quarter of a larger work than like a standalone. Perhaps the author, or her editor, was concerned about publishing a monster of a book, but readers looking for strong resolution should avoid starting Emperor of the Eight Islands until the rest of the series comes out. Despite that, this work is still brimming with interesting characters, significant action, and establishes the background of a fantasy
Vi ~ Inkvotary

Shikanoko has survived the fall from a mountain cliff. But the price he has to pay for being alive is tremendous. His uncle wants his dead, a powerful man wants to control him and the woman he loves is out of his reach. Only the dark powers are willing to help him. But with them danger and death are always near. To gain back what is rightfully his, he must learn to control his new abilities and defeat his uncle.

Lian Hearn is no author of the loud tones. Her writing-style is decent, clas
Jenny Kim
*Based on a reading of an ARC

I've not made up my mind whether this is 2.5 or 3 stars books. 2.75 is the average. :)

The world building when the genre is what I call Historical Fantasy, where there are things that are realistic mix with fantasy elements, can be difficult to make it believable and even more difficult to make the characters who reside in that world matter so that we are invested in them. George R. R. Martin succeed with "A Song of Ice and Fire" series (a.k.a. Game of Thrones).

Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2016

SIIIIIIGH, I was legit so freaking pumped for this book. Someone recommended it to me on twitter and I immediately looked it up, did some research and it sounded AWESOME - a fantasy novel with Japanese and Korean influence? hell freaking YAH. Sign me up! I immediately ordered it on amazon and the second it arrived in the mail I sat down and started reading. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed which especially sucks because these books are GORGEOUS and the author has so many books o
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
“I am what I am and what I have always been, a poor soul on a journey.”

Well, this one wasn't really my cup of tea. As a fan of Japanes culture and anime, I was extremely excited to read a book about Japanes culture etc.
However, at the beginning I was sooooooooooooo confused. Too many names, too many places, just everything too much. I needed a lot of time to understand and to get into the story.

After this, I started to enjoy the story, but I was confused till the end, trying to get my mind to re
Book Riot Community
Hearn, the author of the awesome Tales of the Otori series, is back with a new fantastic series set in medieval Japan. At the beginning of the tale is a young future lord, sent into hiding with a mountain wizard by his scheming uncle who wants the boy's land for himself. What follows is magical adventures on battlefields, and in forests and castles, involving both man and beasts. This story is a rich tapestry of magic, superstition, and ancient history, all wonderfully realized. And all four boo ...more

A fantasy set in feudal medieval Japan so my love is already set in stone for this series but can’t seem to connect with the characters.
Cindy Eliza
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It has been a long time since I enjoyed reading from the fantasy genre! This book have everything I love - Asian background, fantasy and Asian mythologies, a little bit of love and enough adventure to keep me wanting for more! Can’t wait to dive into book 2,3 and 4!
Jenna Osborne
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Medieval Japan seems a fitting setting for a tale of fantasy and intrigue. In my mind it is a place and era that have taken on phantasmagorical proportions, ripe with dragons, levitating monks and rulers who seemingly lived for thousands of years.

Emperor of the Eight Islands, Book One: The Tale of Shikanoko is the first of four installments by Lian Hern to be released this year from FSG Originals.

I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive when I opened the book and immediately encountered a five
Stewart Tame
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lian Hearn writes excellent, Japanese-inspired fantasy. My wife and I fell in love with her books with her first series, Tales of the Otori, and have been hooked ever since. So much of classical fantasy draws on European traditions, to the point where it's easy to forget that it's not the only cultural tradition out there. That's one of the many reasons why this book is such a breath of fresh air.

There's a lot going on in this, the first of four books (all of which should be out by the end of 2
Philippa Mary
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved this! The setting of a mythical, medieval Japan was amazing. The plot was engaging and unlike anything I've read recently. The characters are all intriguing, as well as being well written. This book definitely pulls no punches - bad things happen to some good people and good people do some questionable things. The ending was just... I am still recovering. Well that's being a bit dramatic but the ending definitely messed me up a bit. Excellent storytelling - I will be trying out Lian Hear ...more
Brandon St Mark
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this was a great book. I haven't read a book before bed since Rae Carson's Like a River Glorious, which was also a great book.

Originally I wasn't going to pick this up because it had a 3.65 rating here on GoodReads, but I needed a few more books on a BookOutlet order I was making and this series was just really cheap so I decided I'd try it anyway. I'm so glad I did.

There was not one pov that I disliked. They were all interesting, and overlapped in exciting ways. None of the characters acti
Jes Reads
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I think the simple writing style was confusing to read at first but overall I ended up liking it. It got rid of the frills and made the story seem more intimate in a way.

I wish there was more character development. I often found myself confused about who was who sometimes.

overall I'm not sure if I will continue with this series but I have since picked up other books from this author and I'm excited to see what I think of their other series.
Dec 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
First, some trigger warnings: there are at least two instances of seen rape and multiple suggestions of rape; there is a lot of violence; there is - because even in fantasy, women can’t escape it - a lot of sexism and inability to protect themselves.

Now, onto the book itself. Emperor of the Eight Islands is the first in a quartet of books set in a fictionalized Japan. It has multiple POVs from a young noblewoman, a young sorcerer, a noblewoman trying to gain some control over her life, and a vi
Jessica Dougharty
Sep 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the writing style and originality of the story fairly well.
Valkyrie Franco
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
While at first it was hard for me to follow for various reasons including a lot of characters with names that aren't my everyday and getting distracted then coming back to it and bam! Whole new character! I grew enchanted by the storyline and learned all the characters personalities.

I loved that it was very different the way it was told. Heavy emphasis on Japanese folklore which drew me to this book. We may have heard the story beforehand from amazing works like Game of Thrones but in all hones
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book, maybe even more than the author's previous book in her Tales of the Otori Series. This story is set several hundred years before the events of that series. I enjoyed the pacing of this story it unfolded well, a perfect first book for a series, laying a solid foundation for the story to unfold. I enjoyed the animism and magical elements of the story set against a background of feudal Japan. Excellent story telling and I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. ...more
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a well told story in a Japanese style
An intriguing blend of fantasy and history, in a reimagined world of medieval Japan. It awakened the dormant Asian Studies scholar in me (that's legitimate: BA in history, anthropology, and Asian Studies in 1978 from Washington University.) This, apparently, is one of 4 novels in the series, all of which came out in 2016. While I enjoyed reading it, I'm not committed to seeking out the others, though wouldn't say no to one if it fell into my hands. The characters were interesting, and the politi ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This book starts a little confusing, as Lian Hearn creates families and bloodlines that weave back and forth in importance through the plot. However, the more you read, the more you begin to realize that the small, offhand paragraph at the beginning of a chapter is actually really important to the overall plot and that while the book follows the adventure of Shika, all characters have important roles to play in the storyline. Lian Hearn does a great job of telling a story bit by bit and unveilin ...more
Hanna  (lapetiteboleyn)
If anyone ever wants to understand bad pacing they should read this. There was so much wrong that I've probably given this two stars rather than one out of nostalgia for the Otori series. The characterisation is sloppy and one-dimensional, the dialogue is so clunky I had a hard time distinguishing dialogue from description and there is a terminal problem with telling over showing. I'm not sure I could recommend this in good conscience to anyone except as a great example of how not to write a nov ...more
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
First of all, I enjoyed pretty much every POV character. I wish there had been more of a rhyme and reason to whose point of view we got. I can't say I liked the prose either. There were a lot of lines that really hit me but most times the "epic" style of the prose hindered it. I wanted to be able to feel for the characters beyond just being sympathetic to their circumstances but we never really got a chance to get a real feel for them as people.
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HPL Reads: The Tale of Shikanoko, among others... 4 16 Apr 27, 2017 07:54PM  
Goodreads Librari...: please add page count 4 18 Dec 03, 2016 01:52AM  
Goodreads Librari...: UK hardback edition under wrong version of book 2 17 Jul 17, 2016 05:56AM  

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Lian Hearn's beloved Tales of the Otori series, set in an imagined feudal Japan, has sold more than four million copies worldwide and has been translated into nearly forty languages. It is comprised of five volumes: ACROSS THE NIGHTINGALE FLOOR, GRASS FOR HIS PILLOW, BRILLIANCE OF THE MOON, THE HARSH CRY OF THE HERON and HEAVEN'S NET IS WIDE. The series was followed by two standalone novels, BLOSS ...more

Other books in the series

The Tale of Shikanoko (4 books)
  • Autumn Princess, Dragon Child (Tale of Shikanoko, #2)
  • Lord of the Darkwood (Tale of Shikanoko, #3)
  • The Tengu's Game of Go (Tale of the Shikanoko, #4)
“I am what I am and what I have always been, a poor soul on a journey.” 4 likes
“The bonds between husband and wife spring from deep laws of destiny and should not be broken lightly.” 0 likes
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