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The Tale of Shikanoko #2

Autumn Princess, Dragon Child

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A self-assured warrior stumbles into a game of Go that turns fatal. An ambitious lord leaves his nephew for dead and seizes his lands. A stubborn father forces his son to give up his wife to his older brother. A powerful priest meddles in the succession to the Lotus Throne. A woman of the Old People seeks five fathers for her five children, who will go on to found the Spider Tribe and direct the fate of the country. As destiny weaves its tapestry in Lian Hearn's Tale of Shikanoko series, an emotionally rich and compelling drama plays out against a background of wild forests, elegant castles, hidden temples, and savage battlefields in Autumn Princess, Dragon Child.

269 pages, Paperback

First published June 14, 2016

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About the author

Lian Hearn

66 books1,707 followers
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, BLOSSOMS AND SHADOWS and THE STORYTELLER AND HIS THREE DAUGHTERS, also set in Japan.

Hearn's forthcoming series: The Tale of Shikanoko will be published by FSG in 4 volumes in 2016. Book 1 will be EMPEROR OF EIGHT ISLANDS out in late-April 2016, followed by book 2: AUTUMN PRINCESS, DRAGON CHILD (June), book 3: LORD OF THE DARKWOOD (August), and the final book (#4) THE TENGU'S GAME OF GO (late-Sept. 2016).

Lian has made many trips to Japan and has studied Japanese. She read Modern Languages at Oxford and worked as an editor and film critic in England before immigrating to Australia.

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5 stars
310 (24%)
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612 (47%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 120 reviews
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,493 reviews960 followers
September 26, 2016

Reading book two of the Tale of Shikanoko I feel the need for a correction of my earlier praise for the publisher's decision to issue all four books in the series at short interval: this is not a four volume epic, but actually a long stand-alone that was split into four slimmer books in order to make more money. The comment has nothing to do with the quality of the story, which remains for me just as captivating, intricate and fast paced as in the first episode. The warning also serves as a reminder that there's no point in starting with the second book or later and that readers who are curious about the series might come across spoilers if they follow my latest review.


The action picks up immediately after the dramatic events at the end of book one, with the titular character left for dead after falling foul of the evil mastermind of this medieval Japan epic. Shikanoko has his own magical abilities, but lacks the experience and the skill (for now) to confront the Prince Abbot, the eminence gris that plotted the civil war between the Kakizuki and the Miboshi clans.

So the main character heads back into the wilderness, there to be re-apprenticed to the sorcerer Shisoku and to get some supernatural allies (more on this later). Alternative narrators expand the storyline with insights into the other factions that will play a role in the dramatic events. Akihime, nicknamed "The Autumn Princess", tries to find the best way to protect the rightful heir of the empire while dealing with her own torn apart life . Takaahira, the Miboshi counselor, has his own life torn apart by the conflict between duty to his overlord and the budding romance for an underage daughter of one of his enemies. Lord Masachika and Lady Tama, the two selfish opportunists that changed sides and betrayed their own families in the first book, are up to their old tricks. Hina , the heir of Lord Kiyoyori, is used as a pawn in the power games of both clans. The true child-emperor Yoshi is still in hiding and getting an unconventional educations in the ways of the common people.

Instead of attempting a detailed synopsis, I would rather restate the major selling points of the series:

- excellent recreation of medieval Japan, including not only politics and war, but also myths, legends and supernatural creatures.
- action packed and tight writing
- interesting magic system

Some mysteries are answered here and give rise to more questions and more potential complications in the quest of Shikanoko. The munber five plays a major role here (instead of the usual three or seven of the Western fantasy realms). Five fathers (a sorcerer, a bandit, a sage, a warrior and youth full of potential) are seduced by a creature from a different age (in book one). Now Shikanoko is left in charge of five feral twins, alien offspring of that dark sorcery, five boys that grow up in a day as much as normal children do in a month. I am using role-playing game characters in order to make it easier to remember each one:
- Kiku is the eldest, a sort of warrior mage;
- Mu is his rival as the leader of the pack, a sort of blacksmith / tank melee fighter;
- Kuro is a necromancer, poisoner
- Ima is a cleric, healer
- Ku is the youngest, a sort of druid, good with animals.

Of course, my analogies have little to do with the original Japanese creatures that inspired the five twins, but they are helpful, given the very fast introduction and the even faster development of these demonic children. ( the List of characters at the beginning of the novel also helps).

The fairytale vibe of the series is very strong, and I was tempted to add a young-adult component to the mix, given the young age of Shikanoko, Aki and Hina, three of the major players in the unfolding drama. Remember though that we are dealing with a medieval Japan setting, and that children were expected to grow up real fast in those violent years. The confrontations are extremely gory and none of the characters are given a free ticket to a happy ending. They could die at any moment, magic can turn against the unwary practitioner and betrayal is the norm of the clan interactions, even between members of the same family. So don't get too attached to any of the players, and don't get distracted by the occasional lyrical contemplation of nature or by the young love budding in the hearts of the young heroes. This is an adult series dealing with grown-up issues.

Book two ends at a good cliffhanger moment, including some tragic reconfiguration of the gaming board. . In the prologue of the first book and in the title of the last one I have seen references to the game of Go. So I will abandon my previous comparison to chess and to the "Game of Thrones" series, and from now on I will think instead of the Go tactical moves that seek to gain control of territory, of the white pebbles changing to black in certain configurations of the board, of needed sacrifices and of long term strategies that seem obscure at first and will only be revealed in the end game.

Needless to say, I will get to book three as soon as possible.
My favorite quote in book two is about the much closer communion with nature that is a characteristic of Oriental cultures:

Shika was holding on to the power of the forest, the world that existed before men were created and would endure long after they had disappeared, a world that reformed and replenished itself endlessly. He called on the stag whose child he had become, on the greatest oak tree and the most delicate clover, the eagle, the finch, the wolf and the weasel, the snake and the centipede.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
December 8, 2016
DNF at 24%, no rating.

I really want to like this story more than I do. I read the first one, and convinced myself that I would get more into it if I just gave the second one a chance... but it's not happening. I had it sitting around a few months and just wasn't compelled to start it - and now I'm not feeling compelled to finish it.

The events here follow directly upon those of 'Emperor of the Eight Islands' - I read that this 'Tale of Shikanoko' was actually written as one story and divided into parts by the publisher, and that seems entirely likely.

At this point, Shikanoko has become an adult warrior, but after a defeat, he has returned to his sorcerous mentor - who gives him the responsibility of raising five magical children, who are partly his offspring. Meanwhile, plenty of other events are going on with other characters - plots, jostlings for power, disinheritings, &c. It's the *sort* of story I like, but I find the narrative style very distancing - at no point do I feel drawn into the action, emotionally involved, or like I'm inside any of the characters' heads. Obviously, I'm in the minority here... many people love this book, so it's probably just me. But life is short, and books are numerous...
Profile Image for Benjamin.
78 reviews21 followers
August 24, 2016
In my review of the first book of this series I falsely assumed it was in some nature a young adult novel. Now I am starting to question why I thought such a thing, the themes are complex and plot lines are brilliantly interwoven. The fast moving pace of the story is one reason I thought it might be catered to a younger audience, but expedient travels do not in themselves make a book suitable for the young, and while there are indeed downfalls to a book with such pacing the benefit is that it is very easy to stay up all night and read continuously.

In this installment of the tale of Shikanoko I felt myself being gripped earnestly by the rigorous twists and turns the central characters are put through. If you decide to give this series a much deserved reading, you will be kept on your toes, attempting, and most likely, failing to see what comes next.

Reviewed with honesty for Netgalley
Profile Image for Megan Lyons.
516 reviews10 followers
March 15, 2016
2 1/2 stars

This volume was definitely an improvement over the first volume, "Emperor of the Eight Islands." Because I had already become familiar with the characters and the setting, I was better able to be immersed in the story this time around. Some of the characters were redeemed in this book, making them a little more likable. The Japanese setting and mythology was also refreshing. I do think that the division of this story into multiple volumes hurt the flow of the story. However, this is definitely not a series that you could read out of sequence. I feel that if you liked the first volume, you should continue on to read the second one. At this point I will likely finish the series as I am invested in the story enough that I want to see how it ends.

I received and ARC of this novel*
Profile Image for Billie.
930 reviews79 followers
June 15, 2016
I'm starting to think that I would have preferred to read this as one 1000 page epic than as four shorter novels. I should have waited for the omnibus edition.
Profile Image for Christaaay .
379 reviews165 followers
April 7, 2017
“He sleeps beneath the lake,
The dragon child,
But he will wake
And spread his wings again,
When the deer’s child comes.”

Sounds so peaceful, right? Pastoral, almost.

But the Tale of Shikanoko is a bloody game of thrones inspired by medieval Japan and told in riveting, heartbreaking fashion.

About : If you haven’t read book I or at least my review of book I, my recap of the plot won’t make much sense because there’s sooo much going in this series. Lian Hearn’s spare style allows for constant action, and the politics of the large cast is fairly complex, so if I try to recap every important plot line, my entire review will be one long recap and you won’t need to read the book anymore!

But here’s the short version of volumes 1-2:

An impostor prince sits on the Lotus throne and the Heavens take out their vengeance on all as the true emperor hides his identity from his scheming enemies. Shikanoko, The Deer’s Child of the prophecy, retreats to the magician Shisoku to mend his broken deer mask, following a humbling magical defeat by the Prince Abbot. While there, his heart softens toward a dangerous new threat, the five Spider Tribe demon children birthed by the Lady Tora. But despite the chaos all around him, all Shikanoko can think about is the true child emperor and his guardian, the lovely Autumn Princess…Autumn Princess, Dragon Child is an adult fantasy written by Lian Hearn and published June 7th 2016 by FSG Originals. Paperback, 288 pages.

About : “The Tale of Shikanoko” series contains four volumes, but it’s really one long story published in four installments.FSG Originals published all four in quick succession in 2016. I read the first installment back in August 2016, so I worried about keeping track of the large cast after so many months; but with a little patience and piecing together, I was able to pick up the story again. (I do, however, recommend reading them all within a shorter space of time than I did. I’m reading volume three right now.)

As in volume one, the main form of currency in volume two is power. Although the women vary in motivation and personality, the men all ruthlessly take power to protect themselves and their own families and tend to blend together to some degree. (I felt the same way about the genders in Across the Nightingale Floor, Tales of the Otori #1; but my antipathy toward the bland male characters in that earlier book was much stronger. I do find the characters in The Tale of Shikanoko much more interesting, as a whole, as well as finding the larger plot and style much improved.) But Hearn has a way of changing my mind about seemingly-irredeemable primary and secondary characters. I always end up caring about them by the end.

Shikanoko’s character develops in particularly interesting ways. His defeat at the end of book one broke him, and during the course of book two, he starts to grow from used child to adult warrior/sorcerer. His new humility proves to be a strength, by the end of this volume. His character development is one of my favorite things about the story.

Each volume ends with a monumental choice by Shikanoko—usually a combination of glorious victory and terrible mistake—and each time this poignant victory/defeat has made me eager to to pick up the next installment (although I didn’t get the chance to do that after volume one). Many readers have concluded that combining Shika’s story into one large volume would have made more sense, since the four small volumes (all well under 300 pgs, extremely short for adult fantasy) have very little in the way of self-contained plots. But regardless of this publishing model, the story is just as compelling in one or four volumes.

Overall : So far The Tale of Shikanoko series is very dark and very adult, nothing like what I remember from Across the Nightingale Floor. I’m completely hooked!

Plot: 3.5/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Worldbuilding: 4/5

Recommended To : If you enjoy literary fantasy and Asian settings (specifically feudal Japan, in this case), I highly recommend this series. Not recommended to readers wanting fast, action-oriented or “magic-systems” fantasy; though the spare, impactful style never wastes a word, the tale’s emphasis on character and political machinations leaves little room for action or humor. And although magic exists and influences the story in interesting ways, it remains completely mysterious to readers, used for atmospheric and structural elements.

Thank you so much to Lian Hearn, FSG Originals and Netgalley for my free review copy! I loved it.

The opinions I share are completely my own and in no way compensated for by publishers or authors. If you liked this review, you can read more of my speculative fiction reviews on my blog
Profile Image for Fae.
35 reviews
October 13, 2021
This series really does not pull its punches. Pretty great, but absolutely no hesitation to have characters be both good and bad, a whole cadre of cruel manipulators, and to torture and/or kill characters off. It’s a great epic-like story, but brace yourself.

I really liked Shika’s character development in this book, as well as Aki’s and the Spider Tribe. But damn, that ending. Truthfully, I didn’t expect that to happen until book 3 or 4, so I’m at a loss for the conflicts for the rest of the series.
Profile Image for 2TReads.
774 reviews35 followers
November 18, 2020
Really enjoying the political machinations, the ebb and flow of relationships, changing fortunes, and the intersection and convergence of the natural and spiritual world.
Profile Image for Debbie is on Storygraph.
1,701 reviews120 followers
November 23, 2016
This second installment of Lian Hearn's Tale of Shikanoko picks up where the first one ended. Where the writing still seemed to keep me at arm's length, it was to a lesser degree than the first book. Possibly because there was more dialogue and interaction.

Those who enjoyed the first book would enjoy this one. The political plots continue to twist, and the interpersonal plots are still flailing around and I'm not sure how they will connect back together in the end.

One thing about this book that may put some people off, and this happened in the first book as well - No one is safe. The author will kill off characters to further the plot, even if she has spent the past few chapters, or book, or even two books making you like them. This adds a degree of suspense to the plot which, in my opinion, badly needs it due to the reserved writing style.

I'll continue on to the third book eventually, but these are slow reading for all that they are short, and I want something a bit different after spending several weeks' time with Shika.

Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Laurie.
953 reviews37 followers
August 27, 2016
This is the second book in a four volume fantasy epic, and I think I made a big mistake by not reading the first one. I found this on the ‘new books’ shelf and went “Hmmm.. fantasy set in feudal Japan.. I’ll take that!” But the author jumps right into the story with no bringing us up to speed, which left me utterly baffled, even with the cast of characters in the front of the book. Who were these people and why were they doing these things to each other? Because of this, I never managed to care about the characters and the story bored me- even though there were magical. There is some cool stuff going on- half demon children born of one woman and five fathers, some very intelligent horses, magical swords, a lot of magic, and a child emperor hiding with a troop of performing monkeys (and probably having the best time of his life). I liked the writing and the style; I just couldn’t connect. So, I think this series is probably brilliant, but don’t even try to read this book without reading the first one beforehand!
Profile Image for Erin.
431 reviews5 followers
July 20, 2016
I definitely forgot most of what happened in the first volume, even though it came out in April. The first 50 pages I spent mostly flipping to the front character list to try and remember who everyone was. That said, I like the style and it's an interesting plot that does have the feel of a legend or an ancient story. I might consider waiting until both of the last two are out and reading them back to back so I can avoid the confusion I had this time around.
Profile Image for Clarabel.
3,201 reviews24 followers
February 13, 2020
Cette suite à L'enfant du Cerf est sans temps mort (un petit résumé ouvre le livre pour ceux qui ont la mémoire qui flanche). On retrouve donc Shikanoko en mauvaise posture : seul et abandonné dans la forêt. Il retrouvera néanmoins son vieux sorcier et la belle enchanteresse dont il recevra en mission la charge de son étrange progéniture.
Mais tout est lié. On se souvient d'une prémonition selon laquelle Shikanoko devait tuer les jeunes démons. Trop tard, le destin est enclenché. La Princesse de l'Automne a également scellé son sort : elle devait escorter le fils de l'empereur vers une cachette sûre, et puis son chemin a croisé celui de Shikanoko.
Les deux clans ennemis sont en guerre, les espions grouillent, les traîtres vont et viennent, les secrets sont dévoilés, les esprits rôdent et la vengeance s'arme de patience pour s'abattre sans pitié. C'est une lecture qui n'en finit pas de nous surprendre et de nous enchaîner à sa narration hypnotique et captivante.
Avec toujours le cœur battant la chamade et les yeux écarquillés de stupéfaction ! On passe à la suite sans attendre : L'Empereur Invisible
Profile Image for Rina.
115 reviews47 followers
July 30, 2018
So, the issues I have with the books are stated in the part 1 review, but let’s do a short recap: flat characters, rape, death, and a writing style that makes it almost impossible to care about any of the above.
However, I also mentioned that the series is growing on me. Especially Hina and Aki – or should I say, only Hina and Aki. Still, I cannot say I feel for those characters the way I’ve felt for characters in my favourite books, but at least there’s some progress. When Hina was in danger I couldn’t put the book down because I needed to know whether she’s safe. With Aki things are a bit more complicated. I did care about her and liked her character and how she’s a warrior despite being a woman. However, it was really hard to care about her death in the end. I guess that was mostly because of the weirdness of it all: she was half dead, then suddenly very alive (?) because Shikanoko was being vulnerable (??) and then she died.
Why did she die? Another thing I remarked in the part 1 review:

Sesshin: I told you to kill the demons
Shikanoko: /ignores him
Sesshin: Kill the demons!
Shikanoko: /doesn’t do it
Aki: /dies because of demons
Shikanoko: No! My life is over!

Yeah… It’s just SO hard to feel bad for Shikanoko. Or, like, feel anything at all for him. I literally did not care about anything that happened to him so far in the whole first two parts. And he’s the protagonist, allegedly. Not that one really gets that feeling seeing how many characters these books have and how unnecessarily many of them get their own views.
But real talk. The two most exciting lines were Eisei and Nagatomo smiling at each other (okay, I lied, there are four characters I like) and the allusions to them being intimate. I kid you not, I’m pretty sure it was like one line each and that got me more hyped than the whole rest of the two books. Though one has to say that Eisei casually changing sides and helping them out was a bit weird (I do understand his motivations, but I feel like there are just too many characters to make them all authentic) and I can’t really believe that he wasn’t found out, seeing how his master is capable of reading minds.
So, I just hope Hana survived and that Eisei and Nagatomo won’t be killed off. And I somehow don’t think I will be lucky. Except for Hana, maybe. I do think she survived (for now), but that doesn’t mean much.
Speaking of female characters: why does Aki, the strong female character, have to sacrifice herself? (I know the snake kills her, but she does offer her life to the dragon child before that.) I mean, she had so much potential, but all she was there for was kinda being the mother of Shikanoko’s child. The role of protector of the emperor suited her much better.
Why can’t Tama just keep Matsutani and reject Masachika? She was badass taking back what’s hers, but I’m not happy about her motivation.
And why is the only role Tora has to have sex with five guys and get five children?
Hana is literally my only hope here.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for sanaz.
151 reviews144 followers
September 28, 2016
Another good experience listening to a book and I liked how the characters take their natural course of development and how they struggle in a world that is so cruel. I found myself so many times reflecting on the violence of everything that is alive.
Profile Image for Jennifer (JC-S).
2,864 reviews197 followers
September 9, 2016
‘Shikanoko, unable to sleep, racked by pain and fever, walked day and night through the Darkwood.’

‘Autumn Princess, Dragon Child’ is the second of four novels in Lian Hearn’s ‘The Tale of Shikanoko’ series. If you have not already read the first novel (‘Emperor of the Eight Islands’), stop now. ‘Emperor of the Eight Islands’ sets the scene for the entire series, and understanding the scene (or scenes) is critical.

If you are still reading, I’ll assume that you’ve read ‘Emperor of the Eight Islands and know who Shikanoko is. In the first novel, Shikanoko is reacting to events and circumstances. He is acquiring knowledge and power but is not in control. His world is changing rapidly. In ‘Autumn Princess, Dragon Child’ Shikanoko is beginning to understand (and sometimes to control) the power he has acquired. But there is much he cannot control, and the external world is full of betrayal, surprises and danger. The betrayals involve a number of different people and impact on many more.
Shikanoko’s journey is not an easy one, and his treatment of the Autumn Princess sets in train a number of consequences as does his failure to take some of the advice given to him.

In this book, Ms Hearn continues to add depth to Shikanoko’s world. The hidden child emperor may be safe for now, but the world is not. I finished this novel keen to pick up the third novel (‘Lord of the Darkwood’). As she did in ‘Tales of the Otori’, Ms Hearn has created a world which seems so complete that it becomes real. I want the world to be brought back into balance, I want Shikanoko to reach his potential, and the hidden child emperor to assume his rightful position. I want to keep reading, but I don’t want the story to end. Yet.

Note: My thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
Profile Image for Josh Mlot.
358 reviews5 followers
July 6, 2016
"Autumn Princess, Dragon Child" is the second book in the four-book story "Tale of the Shikanoko" by Lian Hearn.

It seems many readers didn't enjoy this one as much as the first, but I didn't have that same experience. All of these books fit into a larger hole and have to be read as such — they don't work well as stand-alones because they read like the puzzle pieces they are.

The pace picks up in "Autumn Princess," at times so much that things feel a little clipped. Normally this would bother me a little, but for some reason that seems to work for the tone of the story. Plus, Hearn does a good job of hitting the right notes, so things feel earned in a way they often don't when a writer moves things along quickly.

There is a lot of action in this second installment, and it becomes clear that Hearn is willing to sacrifice characters.

Much like in book No. 1, the ending does not provide much resolution. Each installment is simply pushing the story forward within a bigger picture. Some have no appreciated that, but I have no problem with it — I picked up the books with every intention, if I enjoyed the reading experience, of reading the whole series.

And I have enjoyed my reading experience. These aren't groundbreaking in terms of plot or prose, but it's just fun to read. One of the blurbs on the back of the book refers to the story as "adventure," and that's a perfect adjective.

I look forward to continuing the adventure through its second half.
86 reviews
September 23, 2020
I had some hopes for this book, as the ending of the first one was dramatic and the speed really picked up, leaving me curious as to what would happen next. But I’m on page 105 (out of 267) and honestly I think I’ll stop there. I’ve read enough-I’m intrigued by Yoshi and the monkeys, but Takaakira is a creepy pedophile (who says himself that he’s grooming Hina, just like the Tale of Genji) who I can���t stand, I still can’t keep the majority of the characters straight let alone their alliances and backstories, and the way Akihime was written really bothered me. I admired her for escaping in the first volume, and after being raped by Shikanoko I felt for her, but in this volume, for her to blame herself for being raped and thinking of how she wished she could be with him and how attractive he was, only puts down women in an entirely sexist, victim-blaming way. Upon looking up the author I realize she is, in fact, a woman in her 70s and as such I think a lot of her views aren’t in touch with those of today. Though she has studied Japanese, etc the writing style seems slightly orientalist, the women have little agency, and the writing just isn’t that good. Also for those who also study Japanese, the names aren’t even that original? I’m sorry but Autumn Princess? The forest being called Kuromori? Aomizu?

I read this review and completely agree with it: http://strangehorizons.com/non-fictio...
Profile Image for Tim Hicks.
1,494 reviews117 followers
September 17, 2017
Don't even think of reading this unless you have read #1.

I suspect I'd have given this a 4 if I'd been able to read it all in one go.

This one dragged a bit in places but picked up nicely. And, lookit, we know the horses are important, OK, so can we not mention them every three pages?

The five "children" are deliciously creepy, and are obviously going to cause a lot of the kind of chaos you just can't wait to read about. And I like that Shikanoko is clearly growing in power a LOT faster than he is learning how it works and what might (heh, heh) go wrong.

If your library has this book, borrow two copies. Prop one open at the cast of characters, and read the other one. You'll be checking constantly to see if Yoshisuto no Yoshizaka is related to Hoshimuto no Hoshizato, whose uncle used to be called Hashibrow no Hashitutu but is now known as Pokemono no Pokesaki after he unseated Ramadama no RamadaInn at the castle of Mosquitori, or was it Maskerato? It's important, because Yoshi is a Gangsta but used to belong to the Rowdies, while Hashi was a Rowdy but is now in with the Gangstas, but maybe he's spying so watch your back. I do NOT blame the author for this - all the Chinese and Japanese sagas I've read are like this. You just need to be ready for it. Also, the less noble players are all Hina and Hona and Baru and Bari and so on. This is why it's annoying to have the story broken up: I just get them all worked out then I have to go and find the next volume.

Profile Image for Vaughn.
38 reviews2 followers
March 3, 2018
Wow. I can’t believe how much i’m loving this series. The writing really draws me in with it’s simplicity, but also in the way it paints such clear images in my mind. The setting is fascinating and the magic is incredibly interesting and slightly murky which serves the story very well.

The cast of characters, who are all fantastic, is pretty large, but it wasn't too difficult to keep track of everything that was going on, even as the narrator head hops from chapter to chapter. As long as you bring your focus into it and aren't too distracted while reading you should be able to pick up on enough verbal clues as to what's what and who's who, and how much time passes (a big pet peeve of mine is unclear passage of time, so I was really jazzed when this book gave me clear cut numbers).

I can understand why a lot of people wish they had read this as a single epic long-read, but I also don't mind it as a tetralogy. I think enough has happens within each volume so far as to merit the way it's split up, plus I think it makes it a bit more accessible, and (not that it matters in the grand scheme of things) the covers are effing gorgeous. Just sayin'.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
191 reviews4 followers
April 2, 2023
I was so absorbed in book 1 of this series. In book 2, there is so much happening. Almost too much. Lots of people dying, lots of things happening in the Darkwood, and there is separation of important key characters. There is so much mystical stuff, which I only half liked. I liked it in book 1, but in this second book, it just seemed to get old! There were definitely some things that I found annoying in this second book. In the Otori series, I liked all of it--every last bit!! But some of the mystical stuff was just over the edge. I half considered stopping reading the series after this second book. But I already have books 3 & 4. So I'll crack open book 3--even though some things really bugged me. There are things I like, too, but to make a list of both will lead to endless spoilers... So let it just be known that I thought the first book was closer to 4 stars, but this one was 3 stars. I was irritated that one character was forced to do seppuku on himself. And another character cannot be trusted. The way this ended was also unsatisfactory...
Profile Image for Estela Ruiz.
41 reviews
January 5, 2018
En la secuela de EL EMPERADOR DE LAS OCHO ISLAS (historia a la que llamo con cariño “mi GAME OF THRONES a la japonesa”), Shikanoko —el hijo del ciervo— busca sanar sus heridas y reconstruir la misteriosa máscara que le otorga su poder. Los elementos de la batalla épica que se avecina ya están dictados: la lucha entre los Kakizuki del oeste y los Miboshi del este por hacerse del poder continúa mientras la princesa de otoño y el chico destinado a convertirse en el verdadero emperador se encuentran prófugos.

Esta maravillosa recreación del Japón medieval a través de sus mitos, leyendas, costumbres y criaturas sobrenaturales, se suma a una mágica narrativa que nos recuerda que no existe el bien prohibido ni el mal perfecto. Todo es sol y sombra, oscuridad y luz.

Más información en entintameotra.com
Profile Image for Brenda.
Author 9 books41 followers
March 11, 2021
"He aprendido que las mujeres y las niñas son igual de peligrosas que los hombres a la hora de espiar... Más peligrosas, porque con frecuencia se les subestima."

"Princesa de Otoño, niño Dragón", retoma el camino que dejamos con el emperador de la de ocho islas. AKI sigue huyendo con sus hermanos adoptivos, a quien debe proteger a toda costa, ya que entre ellos se encuentra el emperador. Durante esta travesía tan peligrosa, deberá enfrentarse a decisiones perversas para lograr el cometido que le fue asignado. Incluso si ello significa que deba abandonar a alguien muy cercano para mantener con vida al emperador.

Estos cuentos están basados en varios relatos épicos medievales japoneses a los que el autor supo dar vida con semejante y alucinante trama. Me ha gustado bastante el rumbo que ha tomado, aunque una vez más he de admitir que me confunden todos los personajes que se mencionan.
56 reviews
February 2, 2022
While looking for a synopsis of the first volume of this four-part series, I discovered that most readers disliked this book - and the series as a whole - but always in comparison to the previously published Tales of the Otori series, which takes place in the same fictional region of feudal Japan though 100 years or so in the future. Well, I haven't read those, and I really like this series so far! I'll re-iterate my complaint after reading the first book: I think this should be a single bound set, or at least have combined into two books rather than four. They're a bit short and there is no great reason these first two books shouldn't have been combined into a single volume. But that aside, I think the characters are well written and sufficiently complex, the universe (as it were) well-established, the prose lovely to read, and a great balance between the real and the unreal.
Profile Image for Emma Wallace.
266 reviews49 followers
January 15, 2018
This was a solid story as ever and really pushed the story onwards. I am glad that Shika and Aki were largely apart during this story as their interaction would have unnerved me post Shika’s assault, especially since Hearn seems to set it up as the “love at first sight” relationship within the series. I like the fact that the supernatural is more prominent than in the original series and I am more engaged with this dynastic conflict (not least because I can understand it better now that I am older). This, however, does not function by itself as a novel and I am glad that I read it as part of the UK bind up.
Profile Image for Chris.
142 reviews
February 21, 2021
Autumn Princess, Dragon Child was a great follow-up to Emperor of the Eight Islands, picking up right after the end of the first book and exploring the consequences of its events before taking the next steps for this series’ story. There are definitely parts of the first half that were a bit slow, but looking back now, it was all necessary to effectively explore the ramifications of the characters’ choices in the first book before the story could truly move on. It paid off, as the resolutions in the back half felt earned and fully fleshed out. Overall, another great entry that has kept me excited to see how this story will continue to play out
Profile Image for Ana.
4 reviews2 followers
July 13, 2018
Thought the second book was better than the first. God, I hate Takaakira with the force of 1000 suns. His treatment towards Hina, not letting her outside because he likes her "languid and pale like a lily".
Also, I liked Masachika not buying his bullshit about her being " like a daughter to him", something we know is not true because we get Takaakira's internal monologue, and going "Well, many men sleep with their daughters. you would not be the first." Like, yeah! Call this disgusting bastard out. Although Masachika himself was about to marry a girl much younger than him so I guess there's a bit of hypocrisy going on over there, but I assume Takaakira is older than him. I was glad to have him die.
Aki broke my heart. She has suffered enough to last a dozen lifetimes.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Pam.
835 reviews
August 30, 2017
I like the characters even better in this book, as they have matured. The story winds around and you get a different character's viewpoint in each chapter. There is a bit of magic lurking in the background throughout the story, and it comes to a head at the end. This is not a fairy-tale story with everything turning out happy at the end. It is closer to being a tragedy with a definitely Japanese flavor.
Profile Image for Ahnon.
144 reviews12 followers
October 9, 2017
This second book focus on Aki and she'll go through so much, I just want to keep her in my arm but she has a strong will and need to do what she has to do.
This is all I remember of the book tbh. oh wait no, there's a certain character who really should be head-cut, like really.

Anyway, once you start to read, you just want to keep going. You going to bark a lot at certain characters and wish it'll work out for others. But a wish is just a wish...
Profile Image for Danni.
247 reviews8 followers
May 8, 2018
Well. This is a book. That I read. At least it didn't let go of the rape at the end of the first book. I don't think I like this book or this series but I am probably going to finish the last two books anyway. I would not recommend this book or this series to anyone unless they want to be mad. I feel like this series is going to be one that I rant to my friends about until I forget that I ever read it.
Profile Image for Pat Gaudreault.
24 reviews1 follower
June 25, 2020
This Book 2 makes the many character introductions and at-times difficult-to-follow lineage very worth understanding.

Politics, power, twisting and intertwining character storylines and allegiance switching. These are all themes that are further explored in this second novel in the same fast paced fashion as the first. I found it all much easier to follow in this one though, after putting the effort in to learn it all in the first book.

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