Genpei

Kara Dalkey, Author
Kara Dalkey, Author Tor Books $25.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-312-89071-1
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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Reality and fantasy collide in this engrossing tale of two warring clans vying for power, prestige and the chance to influence the man who sits on the chrysanthemum throne. Setting her tale in Japan during the last days of the Heian period (roughly 1153-1185 C.E.), Dalkey (Blood of the Goddess) deftly uses her knowledge of Japanese culture, mannerisms and bloodthirsty politicking to chronicle the wars of rebellion and counter-rebellion that end in the death of the emperor and the rise of the first Japanese shogun. Two rival clans, the Taira and the Minamoto, clash numerous times over a period of 30 years, with each clan calling on the aid of demons or gods to gain superiority and power. Did demons and gods play a part in the brutal wars of competing emperors and the rise of the Japanese shogunate? Dalkey dramatizes the tantalizing possibilities of what might have been if they had. While she succeeds in bringing the history, customs and traditions of Japan to life, her many characters maintain a remoteness that will keep most readers from caring about any individual. In addition, the fantasy realm of the demons and gods that she posits is rather intangible and distant. But even so, the book, which reads more like a historical novel of political intrigue than a fantasy, boasts a strong story that holds the attention. (Feb. 12)
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