It isn’t a good sign when you start a review of a book as follows: There’s something about writing a bad review that is always easier than writing a good review. If you ask me why my favorite books are my favorites, my discussion will devolve into mumblings about them being ‘so good’. Mediocre, unforgettable books can also be troublesome to articulate. But whenever I come across a book that I think is full of flaws and that I generally dislike, I feel like I could write for hours. Such is Brilliance of the Moon, the third book in the Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hearn.
I’ve thought a lot over the last week about why I didn’t enjoy this book, especially since I enjoyed so much about the first in the series. I think part of the answer is in the question itself: I really liked the first book, so my expectations were high for the rest of the series. Ok, that’s fair, but why did the second and third not meet my high expectations?
In the first I enjoyed the magic and mystery surrounding the Tribe abilities, I enjoyed watching Takeo learn about them and himself, and I enjoyed the tension surrounding the decisions he was forced to make in respect to the teaching so Shigeru, the Tribe, and his mother.
In this book, however, there is no discovery or mystery surrounding the abilities. They are suddenly taken for granted. Perhaps Takeo no longer finds them interesting, but there are numerous other characters who do. A great example is Taku, the son of Shizuka. At one point Takeo even remarks about how he wants Taku to be the first of many children spies. Now that sounds interesting – why not pursue the avenue of Takeo as the teacher instead of the student? How would he teach compared to the Tribe? Would he instill compassion and mercy in his students, instead of the cruelty the Tribe taught? This is a much more interesting dilemma compared to hundreds of pages of Takeo running from Arai.
I have numerous other complaints about the book, and you can read those in the spoiler-filled database entry. Suffice it to say, I do not recommend this book, no matter how much you may have enjoyed Across the Nightingale Floor.