Brilliance of the moon, touch of the wind.

The title comes from a Noh play by Zeami, The Fulling Block, which is the play Kaede watches with Lord Fujiwara in Grass For His Pillow. Like Grass For His Pillow the title contains five syllables. Across the Nightingale Floor has seven. Last year an aquaintance, Professor Shimizu, observed to me, ‘The classic Japanese rhythm is in five syllables and seven syllables.’ Of course, this is the rhythm of thehaiku go shichi go. It made me go back and look at my titles and texts and I realised how often I used this rhythm unconsciously. Many people have commented on how “Japanese” the language in Tales of the Otori sounds, and this may be one of the reasons.

My ears were alert to every sound, straining to hear above the pounding of the horses’ feet and the creak and jingle of the harness as well as the dull roaring of the sea…There was a moment of silence and in that moment I heard the unmistakable sound, somewhere between a creak and a sigh, of a bowstring being drawn.
– Brilliance of the Moon, p.222

Something else I only recently consciously realised was how Takeo’s superacute hearing echoes the onomatopoeia used in manga and anime. Reading a manga is an aural experience as much as a visual one and attunes your senses to everything you can hear around you.

It was past sunset and the evening light was clear and blue, The wind had dropped and birds were singing their last song of the day. I heard a rustle in the grass and looked up to see a hare cross the clearing in the distance. I drank the tea and looked at the hare, It gazed back at me with its large wild eyes for many moments before bounding away. The tea’s taste was smoky and bitter.
– Brilliance of the Moon p 96

A third technique I use frequently is one I’ve observed in films and in manga. The reader or spectator’s attention is drawn away from the main drama to the natural world, to falling petals, leaves on the veranda, eddies of water, birds or animals. In the world of the Otori, especially in Book Three, nature and weather play a major role, underlining how humans are a part of this world and play out the drama of their lives within it.

We live in the midst of the world; we can live no other way.
– Brilliance of the Moon p 318

Brilliance of the Moon blurb:

The powerful conclusion to the Tales of the Otori trilogy. A beautiful, haunting evocation of a time and place just beyond the reach of an outside world, the third and final instalment of the Tales of the Otori transports us once again to a medieval Japan of Hearn s imagination, a land of formal ritual and codes, harsh beauty and deceptive appearance.

Otori Takeo and Shirakawa Kaede are now married and more resolved than ever to strengthen their domains. Yet their hasty marriage has enraged Arai Daiichi, the warlord who controls most of the Three Countries, and has insulted the nobleman Lord Fujiwara, who considered Kaede betrothed to him. The third book in the Tales of the Otori, Brilliance of the Moon follows Takeo and Kaede as they attempt to consolidate their powers and fulfil the holy woman’s prophecy, Your lands will stretch from sea to sea, but peace comes at the price of bloodshed. Five battles will buy you peace, four to win and one to lose.

A thrilling follow-up to Grass for His Pillow and Across the Nightingale Floor, Brilliance of the Moon takes us deeper into the complexities of the loyalties that bind the novel s characters from birth. Filled with adventure and surprising twists of plot and fortune, it also provides a rare glimpse beyond the Three Countries, as outside influences intrude upon this isolated realm.