Brilliance of the Moon
Brilliance of the Moon is the final part of “Tales of the Otori” and tends to be the most exciting.
Takeo must now assist Kaede in reclaiming her lands of Maruyama while balancing his own need to avenge the deaths of his blood father and his adoptive father, Lord Shigeru.
Takeo is further burdened by the tribe, Kikuta, who have claimed him as their own. Takeo is the son of the Kikuta’s most infamous assassin, who was murdered after attempting to leave the family tradition and one of the Hidden.
..while I was happy enough to pray to any god, knowing that they were simply different faces created by men, of one indivisible truth.
Αs the Tribe sends him to a quest that will certainly lead to his death, he finally decides to escape from them. He meets an outcast, Ho Ann who calls him “the angel of Yamagata” as Takeo helped his brother in the past. But this outcast behaves more like an angel to Takeo himself as he helps him cross the snowy mountain and ask refuge at the temple of Terrayama. Takeo couldn’t have managed to remain alive if the outcast wouldn’t appear.
In this journey inside the mountain, Takeo meets a holly woman who gives him the following prophecy:
Three bloods are mixed in you. You were born into the Hidden, but your life has been brought into the open and is no longer your own. Earth will deliver what heaven desires. 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 loose. Many must die, but you yourself are safe from death, except at the hands of your own son.
The prophecy weighs heavily on Takeo and he finds himself falling into despair at the bloodshed his revenge is causing. It takes a very special man to inspire other to their deaths. Those who die by Jato, his sword, and those he could not protect haunt him. Takeo must find a way to seek revenge without the loss of his soul or his love, Kaede. And of course this girl-rebel makes one rush and stupid decision after another.
While Takeo is away to make to plan his strategy with the pirates, Kaede decides to visit her homeland Shirakawa by herself.
The nobleman Fujiwara, who’s determined to possess her, waits there like a creepy snake, ready to attack.
Kaede will soon discover in the most bitter way that although she considers herself an independent woman, she is no match to a man when it comes to battle.
Lady Maruyama had warned her “if the men see you riding a horse like a fighter, they will crash you. You have to appear as a powerless lady”.
Well Kaede didn’t listened and now she is held captive at the house of Fujiwara who along with Lord Arai annul her marriage to Takeo.
She entered a state where prayer and poetry became one and the everyday world seemed full of holiness and significance.
The circumstances surrounding her being married off to Fujiwara felt so shoking that I found myself enraged by her naivety.
Taeko and Kaede are great protagonists in their own right. They both raise issues in society still relevant today – gender, religion, class. It is done in a way that doesn’t feel preachy and it develops with each book.
Ι was also enthralled by Hearn’s tendency to show that humans are nothing compared to the great forces of nature. Takeo is defended in one of his battles not by Arai but by a hurricane and Kaede’s destiny is sealed not by powerful men but by a tremendous earthquake.
The story itself is not simply a story of familial revenge. Takeo cannot just kill those who have killed his family. Their deaths are a result of betrayals that run much deeper. That betrayal never ends and is like a weed. You can cut the head off, but the roots run very deep.
Will Takeo be ruthless in order to seek the vengeance his soul cries out for?
Author: Hearn Lian
Year of publication: 2005
Image maker: Panagiota Goutzourela