07 September 2015

Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka

A book review
Old Japanese traditions always captivate me. Even so that this has become our dream holiday. The dedication and the loyalty, the simple slow life. Every moment and every space counted for them, always dedicated to living in the now.

This and more is captured in Cloud of Sparrows. The theme centers on loyalties and the future, quiet ironically. The great lord of Akoaka, Genji, just like his grandfather, welcome foreigners bringing the word of Christianity, this mainly due to the visions of the future they shared in their lineage. The way religion is thought of by the Japanese when the outsider arrives is captivating. Such as, as long as people have something to believe in to give them hope, all that matters is the peace of their hearts.

“You saved my life. You must let me thank you with a gift.”
“I could just as well say you saved mine. Neither of us would have survived without the other.”
“Then you owe me a gift as well. I will give you Apple Valley. What will you give me?”
Among the chapters the author jumps from present to past and even to future with the visions they have. It might be confusing at first and soon it becomes much like watching a movie with flashbacks. Narrations from character to characters become memory scenes instead of dead dull dialog. And the horrors they live through makes you wonder if you would be capable of handling it as well. Hoping never to find out.

The characters all have their merits, though their depths is left to interpretation, their essence is perfected. The samurai way is deeply explored and explained at some points during the battles, though I could not envision so much blood. The first time I read such a bloody scene I closed the book immediately, I needed a break. I turned to my boyfriend and said “that's too much blood”. He just nodded (he liked it so much he is re-reading it.)

A historical fiction with magical realism elements in it, filled with romance of the most subtle kind as well as plenty of action. Not a moment is dull. I truly enjoyed it as I thought I would. However, the editing style was not to my liking. Lack of dialog clarification in memories, lack of clarification of what a memory was, as well as jumping from head to head in the middle of a paragraph. This kept me having to read back to find my place again. Other than that minor defect, I truly recommend this book to historical fiction fans.
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