Friday, January 25, 2008

To be of two worlds is to be of neither (Books - Grass for his Pillow by Lian Hearn)

"It seems Lord Arai is furious that this person left without permission and refused a marriage that the lord desired. Lord Arai has issued orders for this person's arrest, and he intends to investigate the organization known as the Tribe, which he considers illegal and undesireable. " He bowed again to Kotaro and said stiffly, "I'm sorry, but I do not know what this person's name is to be."

The master nodded and stroked his chin, saying nothing. We had talked about names before and he had told me to continue using Takeo - though, as he said, it had never been a Tribe name. Was I to take the family name of Kikuta now? And what would my given name be? I did not want to give up Takeo, the name Shigeru had given me, but if I was no longer to be one of the Otori, what right did I have to it?

Takeo is a young man of mixed parentage but due to war he must be rescued and then raised by a Lord of a the Otori tribe while in his youth. Two-thirds of the way through this second book of Tales of the Otori, he struggles between the pulls exerted by his mixed allegiances. Being of both clans, he is really of neither. Chapters in this book still alternate between Takeo's story and Kaede, the young lady also ripped from her family in childhood and raised by another. She was a pawn in the political chess game played by warring clans led by men, however now having come to adulthood, she is not content with maintaining this role and intends to be her own master. She too, being neither a helpless girl, nor fully accepted for running her own life in a man's world must forge a new path and this, it seems to me, is the real story lying not at all disguised beneath the a book that also makes its own way - neither being exactly fantasy nor history. The story is compulsively readable. It has its quiet moments yet is at times almost unbearably suspenseful. I read a chapter last night as Takeo had begun to question his loyalties, in which he was asked to perform a task for one of his masters and found myself saying nearly out loud "don't do it!"

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