The bird on the scroll,
a line of ash on paper;
Once again, the Tales of the Otori mostly make me think about Legend of the Five Rings & Oriental Adventures for Dungeons & Dragons. I mean that in the best way; a novel that can make you start teasing apart the worldbuilding elements, scraping the ones you like best off & pocketing them to use yourself? That is the good stuff, right there. These are courtly tales of feudal samurai in a quasi-Japanese setting, & they hit the right notes. Are the warrior-lords in love with death? Check. Forces of honor & duty at war, driving the characters? You got it. Social & military forces of almost equal strength? Webs of intrigue & responsibility woven so thick that suicide seems like the only option? Love unrequited or unconsummated? Checks, all of them. I was a little bit worried about The Tribe, since the word "powers" had been thrown around-- but it doesn't get X-men at all in the least; The Tribe are her pseudo-ninjas. Ninjas & samurai & at the other end of the pyramid...Jews? The Hidden, with their odd & secret religion, with their persecution, are an interesting addition to the social strata. This & the previous book are collected in an omnibus, as are the next two-- I thought that the series would radically depart from this plot line, making each book a different snapshot of the Otori's history, but I think the next pair are sequels to Across the Nightingale Floor.