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Extended Audio Sample Cloud of Sparrows Audiobook, by Takashi Matsuoka Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,420 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Takashi Matsuoka Narrator: Grover Gardner Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2002 ISBN: 9780736697798
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Once in a great while a new novelist comes along who dazzles us with rare eloquence and humanity, with flawless storytelling and a unique understanding of another place and time. Takashi Matsuoka is just such a writer.

His magnificent new novel, set amid the violence and beauty of nineteenth-century Japan, takes us beyond the epic tradition of James Clavell’s Shogun and into a majestic realm of samurai and geishas, ninjas and Zen masters. Brilliantly imagined, gloriously written, Cloud of Sparrows is at once a sweeping historical adventure and a love story of almost unbearable poignancy. It is storytelling on the grand scale from a novelist of astounding depth and grace.

It is the dawn of the New Year, 1861. After two centuries of isolation, Japan has been forced to open its doors to the West, igniting a clash of cultures and generations. And as foreign ships threaten to rain destruction on the Shogun’s castle in Edo, a small group of American missionaries has chosen this time to spread the word of their God. Among them, Emily Gibson, a woman seeking redemption from a tormented past, and Matthew Stark, a cold-eyed killer with one more death on his mind.

Neither realizes that their future in Japan has already been foreseen. For a young nobleman, Lord Genji, has dreamt that his life will be saved by an outsider in the New Year. Widely reviled as a dilettante, Lord Genji has one weapon with which to inspire awe. In his family, one in every generation is said to have the gift of prophecy. And what Lord Genji sees has struck fear in many around him. As the Shogun’s secret police chief plots Genji’s death—and the utter destruction of his entire clan—the young and untried lord must prove that he is more than the handsome womanizer of legend, famed lover of Edo’s most celebrated geisha, Lady Heiko, and that his prophetic powers are no mere fairy tale.

Forced to escape from Edo and flee to his ancestral stronghold, the spectacular Cloud of Sparrows Castle, Genji joins his fate with Emily and Stark, unaware of the dark forces that drive them. Together with Genji’s uncle, Lord Shigeru, a legendary swordsman knee-deep in the blood of his own kin, and the enigmatic Lady Heiko, the unlikely band embarks on a harrowing journey through a landscape bristling with danger—to prepare for a final battle.

Here, on a snowscape stained with blood, horror will mix with wonder, secrets will unravel, and love will duel with vengeance as East and West, flesh and spirit, past and future, collide in ways no one—least of all Genji—could have imagined.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dave | 2/20/2014

    " Historical fiction interweaving stories of political intrigue among native Japanese and Americans in forcibly opened Japan in the mid 19th century. Character driven story. Graphic violence among both Americans and Japanese. I wonder how accurate the portrayal of the respective cultures really is. Almost 4 stars. Complex and thought provoking. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Douglas | 2/11/2014

    " The book was so full of imagery and I enjoyed it immensely. Crisp writing and wonderful historical fiction. I continue to look for more works by the author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Benjamin | 2/5/2014

    " It's been a while since I've read this one, but I remember enjoying it. A group of missionaries, along with a gunslinger in search of revenge, come to Japan as the guest of a certain lord. Want to re-read at some point. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jess | 1/31/2014

    " this was a really fun book. It was written well, and was really interesting the entire time. I look forward to the next one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Audriane Sani | 1/18/2014

    " Lucu, mengharukan dan banyak pola pikir samurai yang rasanya sulit dimengerti oleh kepala manusia masa kini. Ada sedikit terjemahan yang sulit dipahami, tapi masih lumayan lah dibanding buku-buku terjemahan lainnya. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Colleen | 12/13/2013

    " Good read for my trip to Japan but totally unbelievable. A real stretchhhhh of the imagination about the Meiji era of Japan and its dealings with westerners. However, the Samurai scenes were dramatic and well explained. The western cowboys though - not. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jaina | 12/8/2013

    " This is my favourite book. It has pretty much everything you could want in a story from sorrow to love, bloody combat to politics. It's mystical and fantastic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeff Volkmann | 9/15/2013

    " I thought the book was pretty good...A nice critique of the Japanese culture during a period of transition. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andy | 9/3/2013

    " A little too violent. Murders of children. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark | 7/18/2013

    " Solidly entertaining, if your suspension of disbelief skills are in rotation. Been a while since I read it, so no specifics. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Indri | 11/18/2012

    " Hmm,, what I've found so far, the sentences are poetic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 A.J. Scott-Ryder | 10/8/2012

    " Strangely moving. Great story telling ability. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 KathyC | 8/23/2012

    " I listened to this as an audiobook that I picked up on a whim at the library, and found it entertaining as I was driving along. I doubt that I would have stuck with it in book form. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sara | 8/4/2012

    " Fantastic! x10 Loved the romance and subtleties and just everything about it! This was 'right up my alley' as my grandmother would say. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sylvia | 3/8/2012

    " Very descriptive in introducing Japanese culture, Samurai, and the characters were awesome. Genji's family is blessed (or is it cursed?) with an ability in reading the future. Not all the family members have the ability, though. Only the strong ones survives, but even that can't change destiny. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laksmi | 10/30/2011

    " beautiful! very intriguing. combination between unusual love, violent of middle age japan and Mystic that backing up the mystery of the books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matu Stark | 9/3/2011

    " The main story is nice as well the parallel stories of the American protagonists , but the ending is totally irrelevant to the whole story. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 L. | 2/16/2011

    " The second half of the book is nothing but a complete bloodbath. There's fratricide, patricide, suicide, infanticide - any kind of -cide you can think of, it is probably in this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pia | 2/5/2011

    " Great! It got romance, comedy and action. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 1/12/2011

    " I liked it very much. I will definitely read more of this author's work.
    Japan in the year 1861; the current culture is being challenged by the foreigners from the West, bringing their uncivilized ways to disrupt the traditions of classical Japan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sophiene | 10/15/2010

    " What a wonderful, wonderful book. I just wish it had gone on a bit longer... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tanya | 9/29/2010

    " i was sucked right into it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 8/13/2010

    " A very interesting and rather different book about the Meiji era. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Khoa | 8/12/2010

    " Too bloody. Good for learning about Japanese culture and the way of samurai. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vien | 4/7/2010

    " Tahu atau tidak tahu itu tidak penting.. tapi tahu yang harus tahu, dan yang tidak harus kita tahu itu lebih bijak... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 3/26/2010

    " A really fun read, if you can suffer through the first bit... To think I nearly didn't read it would have been a great pity. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amanda | 3/1/2010

    " too bawdy right from the start. the trouble with adult fiction is that it is sometimes too...adult. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kerlip | 2/9/2010

    " Ceritanya sih menarik, banyak tokoh dan intrik. Agak kesulitan menghafal nama-nama bangsawan dan klan.

    Kalo itu sih salahin diri sendiri aja, soalnya agak kurang konsen baca buku ini.

    Catatannya : suatu saat akan dibaca ulang. Dan hunting buku kedua nya. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tara | 1/22/2010

    " American missionaries meet a Great Lord and his samurai in Edo in the 1860s. "

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About the Author
Author Takashi MatsuokaTakashi Matsuoka was born in Japan and raised in the United States. He lives in Honolulu, where he was employed at a Zen Buddhist temple before becoming a full-time writer. Cloud of Sparrows is his first novel.
About the Narrator

Grover Gardner (a.k.a. Tom Parker) is an award-winning narrator with over eight hundred titles to his credit. Named one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, he has won three prestigious Audie Awards, was chosen Narrator of the Year for 2005 by Publishers Weekly, and has earned more than thirty Earphones Awards.