The Tale of Shikanoko: Emperor of the eight islands
Hachette $29.99 pb, 431 pp, 9780733635137
With Emperor of the Eight Islands, Lian Hearn delves into the mythic past of the world she crafted so perfectly in the Tales of the Otori series (2002–07). It is a pleasure to read a writer in top form, and Hearn is at her best here, demonstrating her characteristic flair for uncluttered, elegant prose.
The Eight Islands are torn between two warring factions fighting over the emperor's throne. Behind the scenes, sorcerers, ghosts, and demons seek to control the fate of the empire or just cause mischief. Caught between all of these forces, young Shikanoko in turn utilises and is manipulated by them.