Tale of Shikanoko

For a person who loves history, I do not always seek them to read (unless they are in small globs that I can gobble up in less than 10 minutes). Tale of Shikanoko, The Emperor of Eight Islands by Lian Hearn is a historical fiction. Set in Japan. I picked it up since this seems to be the year for reading genres I’ve never read before.

Have you ever completed a book whereby you can’t tell what it is about the story but you don’t quite love or hate it? A feeling of indifference. I don’t remember when was the last time I felt this way towards a book, probably not in this lifetime.

The story is set in medieval Japan, revolving around war and magic. This story tells the tale of men’s desires–insatiable greed for power and hunger for the flesh foremost among them. It is sad in a way but that is not the story about. I am not entirely sure what the plot line is about.

The story flows like the retelling of a historical event. The words are simplistic and does not waste time on minute details. If you’re the kind of person who likes to see roses in the background when reading, then you might want to pass on this book. I didn’t mind the simplicity, in fact, I liked it.

While the story is continuously in motion, there is not a lot going on. It is easy enough to keep track of what is happening where. However, I do believe it might get tedious keeping track of the characters.

For some reason, I found the story development flat. There didn’t seem to be a particular climax although this might have been intentional. For a person who thrives in fast paced action, this book was probably a bad choice.

I don’t regret choosing this book as it provided a different taste to the books I usually read. However, I’m still two-minded about continuing on. I had originally picked up The Tengu’s Game of Go, the fourth book in the series and since the story seemed interesting, I made a point to read the first book. Now, I’m not too sure if it would be worth my time to go fourth and conquer.


Goodreads Insert: An ambitious warlord leaves his nephew for dead and seizes his lands.

A stubborn father forces his younger son to surrender his wife to his older brother.

A mysterious woman seeks five fathers for her children.

A powerful priest meddles in the succession to the Lotus Throne.

These are the threads of an intricate tapestry in which the laws of destiny play out against a backdrop of wild forest, elegant court, and savage battlefield. Set in a mythical medieval Japan inhabited by warriors and assassins, ghosts and guardian spirits, Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn is a brilliantly imagined novel, full of drama and intrigue – and it is just the beginning of an enthralling, epic adventure: The Tale of Shikanoko.

The Emperor of the Eight Islands
Lian Hearn
Published 26 April 2016




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