Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Nightingale

The Nightingale

Kara Dalkey

Date: 01 April, 1991   —   Book

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Fiction, Fantasy

Dalkey takes the Hans Christen Anderson tale of the nightingale who charms an emperor and moves it to Japan, with human players. The nightingale in this case is a young lady named Ugiusu, who is moved by spirits of her ancestors to take up the flute, and eventually wins a place with the emperor's court. Unfortunately, the ancestors were less than forthcoming about their reasons, and it turns out that her helpful spirits were vengeful magicians, who want to use Ugiusu as a pawn in their bid to throw down the Emperor.

Those who are not familiar with the original tale will find the depiction of medieval Japan fascinating; those who know it well will be prepared for the inevitable betrayal of Ugiusu as she falls out of fashion. Of course, as a fairy tale, one should also be prepared for the happy ending, which works out quite well within the world of the book.

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