The long-awaited third installment of the worldwide phenomenon and number-one international bestseller, Tales of the Otori
"Exciting...part Shogun, part Lord of the Rings and entirely entertaining." -Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 19, 2004
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Excerpt from Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn
The feather lay in my palm. I held it carefully, aware of its age and its fragility. Yet its whiteness was still translucent, the vermilion tips of the pinions still brilliant.
"It came from a sacred bird, the houou," Matsuda Shingen, the abbot of the temple at Terayama, told me. "It appeared to your adopted father, Shigeru, when he was only fifteen, younger than you are now. Did he ever tell you this, Takeo "
I shook my head. Matsuda and I were standing in his room at one end of the cloister around the main courtyard of the temple. From outside, drowning out the usual sounds of the temple, the chanting, and the bells, came the urgent noise of preparations, of many people coming and going. I could hear Kaede, my wife, beyond the gates, talking to Amano Tenzo about the problems of keeping our army fed on the march. We were preparing to travel to Maruyama, the great domain in the West to which Kaede was the rightful heir, to claim it in her name ' to fight for it if necessary. Since the end of winter, warriors had been making their way to Terayama to join me, and I now had close to a thousand men, billeted in the temple and in the surrounding villages, not counting the local farmers who also strongly supported my cause.
Amano was from Shirakawa, my wife's ancestral home, and the most trusted of her retainers, a great horseman and good with all animals. In the days that followed our marriage, Kaede and her woman, Manami, had shown considerable skill in handling and distributing food and equipment. They discussed everything with Amano and had him deliver their decisions to the men. That morning he was enumerating the oxcarts and packhorses we had at our disposal. I tried to stop listening, to concentrate on what Matsuda was telling me, but I was restless, eager to get moving.
"Be patient," Matsuda said mildly. "This will only take a minute. What do you know about the houou "
I reluctantly pulled my attention back to the feather in my palm and tried to recall what my former teacher, Ichiro, had taught me when I had been living in Lord Shigeru's house in Hagi. "It is the sacred bird of legend that appears in times of justice and peace. And it is written with the same character as the name of my clan, Otori."
"Correct," Matsuda said, smiling. "It does not often appear, justice and peace being something of a rarity in these times. But Shigeru saw it and I believe the vision inspired him in his pursuit of these virtues. I told him then that the feathers were tinged with blood, and indeed his blood, his death, still drive both you and me."
I looked more closely at the feather. It lay across the scar on my right palm where I had burned my hand a long time ago, in Mino, my birthplace, the day Shigeru had saved my life. My hand was also marked with the straight line of the Kikuta, the Tribe family to which I belonged, from which I had run away the previous winter. My inheritance, my past, and my future, all seemed to be there, held in the palm of my hand.