Harsh Cry of the Heron Author:Lian Hearn Lord Otori Takeo and his consort Kaede have ruled for over sixteen years. The Three Countries are rich, peaceful and prosperous. The sacred birds, the houou, nest at Terayama and a fabled creature, the kirin, has appeared on their shores. Heaven seems to smile on them. Yet their very success has attracted the attention of the distant Emperor and... more » his general, the warlord Saga Hideki, who covet all the wealth of the Three Countries, especially Takeo's heir, his eldest daughter, Shigeko, now of marriageable age. At the same time the violent acts and betrayals of the past will not lie buried. The renegade Tribe family, the Kikuta, seek revenge on Takeo for the murder of their leader; they have an eager ally in his brother-in-law Arai Zenko, who has never been able to forget or forgive his own father's shameful death. No one escapes the Tribe forever. Takeo has many other concerns, above all for his younger daughters, the twins Maya and Miki, whose strange talents lead them into the world of shadows and ghosts. And other secrets that cannot be kept hidden. Everything that he and Kaede have achieved is threatened.« less
Doesn't have the whirlwind pace of the previous 3 books but is certainly more emotionally charged. The first half of the book drags a bit as it sets up a whole new cast of characters. Business picks up the second act. I wouldn't recommend reading this book before reading it's predecessors. There is a lot of carry-over in the storyline.