Lian Hearn author of The Tales of Otori published another thrilling fantasy series that mixes fantasy with the samurai years of Japan. The Tale of Shikanoko includes four books.


The Tale of Shikanoko by Lian Hearn

I have been drawn to so many of Lian Hearn’s characters. Just when I thought I had met all of them in Book 2 of The Tale of Shikanoko, she kept inserting new characters that pull at my heart. Such favorites are Hina (Yayoi), Shikanoko, the Autumn Princess, Yoshimori, Gen, Mu, Kinpoge, and Tadashi.

Instead of revealing the plot to readers, I will introduce courageous Hina. She was full of grief for the death of her father, Lord Kiyomori, but she had a gift of discernment so she knew what to do to escape her father’s enemies and save baby Yoshimori, who was meant to be Emperor. When her family’s enemies came closer, she tried to jump in a boat with the baby in one arm and a magical book in the other. Her heroics remind Japanese history buffs of an amazing story in the medieval classic, Tales of The Heike, which has a chapter on how an eight-year-old emperor drowned with his grandmother Tokiko as she held on to him with one hand and the other the sacred imperial jewel. Were Hina and Yoshimori saved? And what will happen to the very individualist underdog Shikanoko, who has lost his strength and hope?

Carmen Sterba