Despite my inability to finish Genpei, it seems that I still have the Japanese fiction bug in me. This book, written by Takashi Matsuoka is Cloud of Sparrows, a look at the waning years of the shogun in the the 19th Century.

This book had lots of elements that appealed to me. Written by a Japanese guy (who grew up in Hawaii), East meets West elements (done from the viewpoint of the Japanese), a touch of magic, and interesting historical times.

How Japanese politics reacted to the coming of the Black Ships is pretty interesting.

So I liked this book. I liked how he established his authoritative and authentic voice with little details, I liked how the magic in the story could or could not be actual magic, I liked how the unlikeliest-of-all-romances between a Japanese daimyo and an american woman began to develop. (I mean the daimyo actually had to like overcome his physical aversion to the american).

In some places the backflash history lessons kind of were slow reading, and some of the big clashes between characters were a bit abrupt for me, but all in all a good read.

Recommended, especially for japan history buffs.