Review: Across the Nightingale Floor

You know when you finish a book and completely forget about all the characters, the plot, and the color of the book cover the instant you put it down?

Yeah, well, like that.

Across the Nightingale Floor Cover
Across the Nightingale Floor Cover

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn is a fine novel, but just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Set in a fictional feudal realm much like medieval Japan but not, Ms. Hearn’s story follows a gifted assassin named…darn it, can’t remember his name…just a moment while I look it up…Takeo!  That’s it.  Takeo.  Of course, because the main character ends up with several different names, you can’t really blame me for forgetting his true name, can you?

Anyway, Takeo is out picking berries, or something of the sort, when his village is plundered by the neighboring lord.  Another neighboring lord saves him, takes him home because of his presumed ancestry and skills.  There he learns how to be a slick, magical assassin and discovers his life’s goal: kill the man who murdered his family and friends.

Along the way, we get to meet his love interest (don’t ask me to remember her name), a few things complicate his goal – namely his lost tribe – and in the end he doesn’t get to kill the wicked lord.  Though his girlfriend does, which was cool.  Since this is the first of three (I believe), the end sets us up for Takeo becoming an unwilling regional hero.

In my humble, stupid opinion, this book sucked.


The author kept me at arm’s length throughout the story.  We get brief emotional glimpses of Takeo, but very rarely do we, as a reader, feel emotionally invested in this character.  He’s too cool.  Too collected.  For someone so young and having gone through that kind of trauma, you’d expect someone more flawed.  Things come too easily for Takeo, and he seems to brush off the death of his adopted, and supposedly much-loved, father far too easily.  At least, that’s how it came across to me.

However, the writing is sparse and lyrical.  The author does have a gift with words that paints a stunning picture of landscapes and scenes just at the cusp of violence.  Ms. Hearn also did a wonderful job with the cultural elements.  I truly felt like I was in another culture and time.

Would I recommend this book?  Yeah, but I might just forget to mention it at all…

Not stunning, but good enough.  Three stars.

(I can only hope that my book will garner as much praise.  Really, folks, I don’t mean to be disparaging – just honest.)


3 thoughts on “Review: Across the Nightingale Floor

  1. Hahah; great post!
    Confession time…I had to look up Takeo too.
    “The author kept us at arms length…” is a great way to describe it. When I read a story, especially about ninja’s let me get inside their head for a while. I thought this was especially true of the unmotivated antagonists; very flat characters.

    1. Thanks. Yeah, the bad dudes were just bad. I mean I could kind of understand them, but a bit more was needed to get me to invest into a three book series. Still, some vivid scenes in there with the heron and then when they are waiting to see Takeo’s adopted family leaders.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

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