When Takeo witnesses his step-father murdered and knows that his mother and the rest of the village have been captured, he runs off into the forest. There, he is found by Lord Otori Shigeru who shelters him and then takes him back to his home, eventually adopting him. Otori is the head of a powerful clan, though his uncles want some of the power for themselves. Otori is told if he wants to adopt Takeo, he must marry Lady Kaede though his heart is with another. The family travels out to enemy territory in a facade for the wedding but really hoping to murder a top tribe rival. Takeo has realized that he has special abilities, including very sensitive hearing and the ability to appear as a mirage to others. He's sure he can use these against the enemy.
While this book is set in Japan, it doesn't seem to have any historical correctness to it. I doubt stuff like this ever happened and the descriptions of the terrain felt like it could have been anywhere. The author would continuously mention earthquakes in the book, as if that would make this seem more accurate and more like Japan but instead it just seemed to cause weird breaks in the narrative.
Taking away the historical inaccuracies, this book is fairly entertaining. A few of the characters have special abilities that provide for some interesting scenarios throughout the book. Becoming invisible or splitting yourself in two is unique and can make for some stealthy attacks. The main three characters Takeo, Otori, and Kaede are all likeable and have come from tough situations. It's easy to want to route for them.
This is the first book in the series. I have the second so I'll read it and see whether it's enough to want me to go through to the third.
First Line: "My mother used to threaten to tear me into eight pieces if I knocked over the water bucket, or pretended not to hear her calling me to come home as the dusk thickened and the cicadas' shrilling increased."