Under the pseudonym “Lian Hearn,” Gillian Rubinstein has published six novels set in a fantastical version of Japan’s past, most notably the popular “Tales of the Otori” series. “Emperor of the Eight Islands” is the first in a new four-part series called “The Tale of Shikanoko” that will be published over the course of 2016.
Kazumaru is the only son of a feudal lord who dies after playing Go with a tengu, (mythical goblin-like creature). His uncle remains regent until Kazumaru comes of age, but when it’s time to give up power, the elder is reluctant to relinquish his control and tries to kill Kazumaru on a hunting trip. Instead Kazumaru falls from a cliff with an injured deer. A sorcerer finds him, and imbues the young man with magical powers, turning him into Shiranoko.