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Across the Nightingale Floor

(Tales of the Otori #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  35,978 ratings  ·  2,162 reviews
In his black-walled fortress at Inuyama, the warlord Iida Sadamu surveys his famous nightingale floor. Constructed with exquisite skill, it sings at the tread of each human foot. No assassin can cross it unheard.
The youth Takeo has been brought up in a remote mountain village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people who have taught him only the ways of peace. But
...more
Paperback, 305 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Riverhead Books
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Rachel Cole I loved the whole series. I thought the quality was consistent, so if you liked one you would like them all. The first three (nightingale, grass, moon…moreI loved the whole series. I thought the quality was consistent, so if you liked one you would like them all. The first three (nightingale, grass, moon) sort of go together in a trilogy. The 4th (heron) takes place 15 years after the end of the third book and the 5th (heaven's net) is a prequel. You could stop after the first three if you are satisfied, or keep going if you want to delve more into the world. (less)

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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Nicholas Armstrong
Aug 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
Okay. I'll try to be as kind and heartfelt as possible. This book is insultingly bad. Normally a bad book is just that, but this book is actually infuriatingly bad.

Firstly, it's a fantasy book set in feudal Japan. That's fine. I would think that it being set in Japan, Hearn would have learned anything about the place, but she apparently did not. This book is written as if Hearn simply googled Japan and then decided to write a book on it. I'll go down the list of failings.

Religion Japan wasn't C
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Χαρά Ζ.
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
_Across the nightingale floor_

So i decided to share my personal story with this book.. I was about 15-16 years old and a classmate, a good friend of mine had lent me this book. I read it, i loved it and then my brain completely erased all the data i had on the book. I mean, literally, i remembered nothing apart from liking it. Life happened and i forgot about it, but last year i was in a bookstore and i saw the second book of the series sitting on the self in front of me. The title is "Grass for
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colleen the convivial curmudgeon
1 1/2

In my review for Graceling I stated that I was a bit of a sucker for romance elements in action type stories. I have, in the past, admitted to, probably, over-rating certain books because the romance element gave me the warm-squishies, even though other aspects of the book were lacking or, at times, downright annoying. (See 'Fire Study'.)

So it's a bit ironic that, for this book, I think the romance element between the two protagonists was the weakest aspect of the book. It was so eye-rollin
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Dilushani Jayalath
A fascinating story with riveting characters caught in an intricate web of revenge, romance and betrayal set in feudal Japan. To any who are interested in the Asian culture with its beguiling history and elaborate sense of mystery that is oft knotted in its roots, this book would be the ideal solution. Unfortunately, even with every single element that would have ultimately been the journey of a successful trilogy, the execution fails which renders the story to not quite reach the finish line wi ...more
Bradley
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-shelf, fantasy, ya
This is a light Feudal Japanese fantasy that focuses heavily on growing up to be an assassin, trembling with desire and love, and reveals that drive the main character to dire measures.

Does most of this sound familiar in YA fiction? It should. :)

Fortunately, I enjoy light Feudal Japanese fantasies... NARUTO!!! and while this is fairly light on the magic, (sorry, Naruto fans,) the writing is comfortable and predictable and I can firmly put this in the comfort-food category of literature.

Special t
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Chris
Jan 31, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: japan, fantasy
This is a weird book for anyone who has more than a passing knowledge of Japan.

The author is a great fan of Japan, its culture and its history. That's obvious just by looking at her name, Lian Hearn, which is a pseudonym. According to Wikipedia, it's a contraction of "heron," an important bird in the Tales of the Otori series, but it's also the surname of one of the most famous Western experts on Japan, Lafcadio Hearn. She's gone to great lengths to instill Japanese culture into every part of th
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Phrynne
Sep 19, 2015 rated it liked it
It deserves a whole star just for that amazing title! How could you not read a book called Across the Nightingale Floor? So the title was great, the cover was good but how was the story? Well it was pretty good. I enjoyed the Japanese feel to it although by the end I was a little tired of all the honour which obliged people to do anything other than what they wanted to. There were some good characters not all of whom made it to the end of the book! ( a lot of heads rolled). Altogether it was a g ...more
Felicia
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This book was great, I would love to see it made into a movie. It was like reading the plot of a great Kung Fu movie, with a touch of "Memoirs of a Geisha" and some magic thrown in. I will eagerly read the next book.
Mariel
Aug 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: the u in honor
Recommended to Mariel by: chinatown
I was protesting the Chinese food place down the block today. It's ridiculous. None of their offered cuisine is truly Chinese. If I want to eat American I'll go to Pizza Hut, thank you very much. If that wasn't bad enough I later had lunch at the restaurant next door. They had these little cookies. If you break open the cookies there's a piece of paper that pops out with a message of something that might happen to you. This time I didn't eat the paper first and read what it said. "The Tales of t ...more
Shannon
Nov 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
This is actually a fantasy novel, but, for marketing purposes it's being sold as fiction. Perhaps it's because the magical elements in this tale are very light and it focuses more on a Japan that never existed.

Focus is on two character viewpoints only: a teenage boy in first person and a teenage girl in third person. The mix works and it's one of the first times I've seen such a viewpoint mix, though, I'm sure this author isn't the first to do it.

The boy, Tomasau/Taeko, hops around with differ
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Janina
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, romance
Great epic/pseudo-historical fantasy with an amazing setting reminiscent of medieval Japan. This first installment of the Tales of thr Otori managed something epic fantasy rarely does for me: it captured me from the very first page.

When you take a look at the plotline, Across the Nightingale Floor has all the ingredients of an average epic fantasy: We have the orphaned hero, who is rescued by a noble stranger and discovers he has special abilities. We have the heroine, who is a pawn in her fath
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Trish
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


This is the second time I've read this book, but the first time I've read it in English, its original version.

The setting is a fictional feudal Japan. There used to be magic in this world but most of it is gone by now. In addition to that, there is a rivalry between two religions, one of which subsequently is prosecuted by some of the warlords in power.
Enter Takeo, formerly known as Tomasu, a 15-year-old member of the Hidden (those hiding due to their religion). His village is attacked and he is
...more
Gabi
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I only picked this book up, cause I found it on the book shelf of the "Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club" group here on GR, otherwise I guess I would have never stumbled over this series or the author. And I'm really glad I did!

This is a heart-breaking, bittersweet story set in ancient Japanise times and it has got all the things I love (and love to hate) about those stories. Deep melancholy, beautiful writing, the perpetual feeling of loss and doing the wrong things out of loyalty and a str
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Allison Hurd
Pretty, overall. Very "wuxia." I wanted a little more binding everyone together, and a little less sex next to corpses, though.

CONTENT WARNINGS: (not actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The writing. It really created a painting in your mind of what was happening. I'm going to also includ
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Paula
Nov 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
I call Twilight on this one.

Man, you can waste so many cool things just by adding magic into the story. It removes any sense of struggle, any effort on the part of the characters.

Also, destiny is a dark and sometimes tragic thing, losing control over your own life - not just a way to get everything from life without having to earn it!

The characters are flat, the language simplistic, the description basic and lackluster, the cultural coloring nothing beyond popculture crap, the plot contrived, t
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♥Xeni♥
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adventure fans!
It took me only about four hours to finish this book. I zoomed through it due to the gripping storyline and the vivid scenery and characters.

In a land that is similar to feudal Japan, warlords are battling for power. Takeo is caught in between, inadvertently, when his village is destroyed by the evil Lord Iida and he is taken under Lord Otori Shigeru's wing. Not so surprisingly, Takeo has not manifested powers that come to light while living with Shigeru. While training these powers, he realizes
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Alina
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian, fantasy
A great series about ancient Japan with its samurais and their conduct codes, ninja-like fighters, Christians' persecutions; it has political scheming, interesting twists and turns, intriguing liaisons between characters, sword fights, love, treachery, friendship.
The characters are well-developed, complex, with inner turmoil and weaknesses.

The only thing that disappointed me was the romance element, exaggerated a tad too much in my opinion: when she first laid eyes on him, she started trembling
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Silver Thistle
Across the nightingale floor was a little step away from my usual reading material but the rave reviews intrigued me so I gave it a shot. I rashly bought all 5 books in the series and now I'm doubting the wisdom of that.

Just because it's aimed at a lower age group, doesn't mean it has to be childish but if I'm honest, I found it quite slow despite the killing and the violence and the love interest. The lead character finds he isn't the person he thought he was and discovers special talents he di
...more
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Quick thoughts:

-stilted dialogue and flat characters dominate the book

-the pseudo-Japanese aspects feel more like lazy research and lack of care especially when...

-the narrative misuses the importance and meaning of the tea service, the bowing/social hierarchy that shaped Japan, etc.

-the insertion of Christianity into even a faux-version Japan is not awesome or accurate

-awkward tense shifts from third to first for different narrators

-the narrators each sound exactly the same

-ridiculous case of
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Martini
Interesting setting in a (fantastical) Japan. Enjoyable story and characters. I especially liked that Kaede, the female protagonist, was not simply a damsel in distress.
But I could have done without the instalove.
❄️BooksofRadiance❄️
3.5⭐️

A great potential wasted on nonsensical romance between two raging hormones.

This was a fantastic read minus that painful insta-love that literally developed the very moment the two laid eyes on one another.
At the very least learn each other’s fucking names first!
Dawn C
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Welllll, it won't pass the Bechdel test, but too much about this was surprisingly good so that I have to give it 4 stars. It takes place in a gorgeously painted historical fantasy Japanese world amidst warring clans and secret societies. Seriously, it's beautifully written and there was a tenderness in the prose I couldn't resist. I loved Takeo's and Shigeru's meeting, I loved Takeo's devotion and Shigeru's easy nature. I just wanted to put Takeo and his stupid trusting personality in my pocket ...more
Cynthia Hamilton
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had never heard of this book or the author until a new acquaintance suggested it to me, but I was instantly swept off my feet, from the very first paragraph. Right away, I was caught up in an epic saga—and I don’t use that word “epic” lightly. This story, rich in history and traditions, stretches across a vast landscape, peopled with three main warring tribes, plus The Hidden, which is what the young protagonist belongs to before his life is forever changed the day his village is destroyed.

In
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Juho Pohjalainen
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
This one's something of a slow boil. An unauspicious start and a middle, it nonetheless builds up into a few good bits in the end. At its best it's all the good bits of Game of Thrones - the low fantasy, the far-reaching politics, foul villains, and people dying you didn't want to die, all of it in a much tighter package that didn't leave anything hanging. At its worst, on the other hand, it's a melodramatic out-of-place fairytale romance where two characters fall for one another at first sight ...more
Catherine
I'm really conflicted about what to grade this book. I enjoyed it, but it was really depressing. When I closed the book all I felt was the futility of these people trying to make their own decisions. Someone is always there to take away their choice in one way or another.

Takeo, who is the main character, was an interesting person to follow. He seems strong in the sense that he is able to adapt to any new situation and still retain the core of who he is. But, he also seems weak because he lets hi
...more
Margaret
When I finished Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori series (of which this is the first), I felt as though I'd been eating Hershey's chocolate when I expected Valrhona (or at least Lindt).

These much-heralded books are set in a fantasy version of medieval Japan, and on the face of it, the story is promising: Takeo is the lone survivor of the massacre of his village by an evil overlord. He is rescued by the mysterious Lord Otori Shigeru, who adopts Takeo and brings him into his plans to overthrow the
...more
Karolina Kat
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The worst issue of this book is a promise of great historical fiction setting, that turns out to be a fantasy one, loosely inspired by the Japanese culture. Another thing is the choice of protagonist and main plot - the first one is a typical cliché (teenager who turns out be the most important in the entire world, who holds immense powers), the latter - a quite predictable story of vengeance and rather cringing romance.

It could still be an ok adventure story but there is just one more unbearabl
...more
Kat  Hooper
Mar 31, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Across the Nightingale Floor has a beautiful, concise writing style, good characterization, fast pace, and interesting plot. It's main weakness is the ridiculousness of the love-at-first-sight. It makes the characters seem a bit shallow.

Warning about the audiobook: I listened to this book on CD. There are two readers — a man for the voice of Takeo, and a woman for the voice of Kaede. The man is an excellent reader with a lovely voice (he's got the oriental speech sounds just right). I think his
...more
Sabrina
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff-club
“Across the Nightingale Floor” is a lyrical and bittersweet tale set in a fantasy-medieval, feudal Japan. The magic of “enhanced senses” was beautiful and very appropriate to the setting: I loved my inner picture of how Takeo was (view spoiler). The peaceful and poetic descriptions of the world, like the analogy with the heron, moved me. And yet, there was a cruelty to it – rape, murder, torture and probably a few too many visits t ...more
Doreen
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very fast read, in part because it was so utterly gripping (I nearly missed my bus stop because of it, then accidentally whapped the guy sitting across the way from me with my cello case in my hurry to get out.) Everything is beautifully detailed, and for this Legend of the Five Rings fan, it was an excellent addition to the mystical samurai sub-genre. My only quibbles were with the shifting narrative, which is fine if you keep it all from the same kind of viewpoint (e.g. consistently third-pers ...more
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1,596 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, BLOSS ...more

Other books in the series

Tales of the Otori (7 books)
  • Heaven's Net Is Wide (Tales of the Otori, #0)
  • Grass for His Pillow (Tales of the Otori, #2)
  • Brilliance of the Moon (Tales of the Otori, #3)
  • The Harsh Cry of the Heron (Tales of the Otori, #4)
  • Orphan Warriors
  • Sibling Assassins: Children of the Otori Book 2 (Tales of the Otori)

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