A story with a talking Hoopoe, I had my reservations. But this charming Chinese-flavoured fantasy with stories inside stories about the empress In-Yo, her servant Rabbit and visiting cleric Chih, grabbed my attention after the first chapter. I find it so worthwhile to immerse myself in a totally different world from mine.
'In those days you could say a thousand things with your choice of ink and paper even before someone read a word of your poetry.'
Chih looked at the object in Rabbit’s hand, wondering why the hair and dark feather looked suddenly so grim.
'I thought it was just trash.'
'It is trash,' she said shortly, 'but if you want to understand people who have gone, that’s what you look at, isn’t it? Their offal. Their leavings.'
Chih waited patiently. It was the bulk of their training, learning how to wait for a story rather than chasing after it, and soon enough, it came to them.