I believe that David Mitchell may be, of all the contemporary authors I've read, one of the most versatile. Although I could simply be mistakenly (again) be viewing his work as versatile. I believe there are meant to be some more of his meta-linguistic features in this book. Although I didn't stop any familiar characters. Reading [b:Black Swan Green|14316|Black Swan Green|David Mitchell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320562118s/14316.jpg|2166883] and [b:Ghostwritten|6819|Ghostwritten|David Mitchell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320415093s/6819.jpg|1094555] may help me to find those little hidden characters however.
The title of this book - which I think must be classed as a kind of zany historical fiction with some slight fantasy elements (very, very minor, as in only hinted at to do with ki or life force energy) - has to do with the fact that Japan is also known as The Land of a Thousand Autumns, or something like that.* The storyline follows Jacob de Zoet, a Dutch clerk working for the Dutch East Indies Trading Company in Nagasaki. The story starts off in a complacent manner (excluding the detailed childbirth) and in fact I was not gripped by the beginning. It took around a hundred pages for me to emotionally delve into the story and go beyond the surface of the beautiful writing.
The story is a story about de Zoet as a clerk and his company dealings as well as a love story and a story about a demoniacal and arcane cult. In this sense the story is about humanity. It is a story about how we as people respond to power and authority. How we control our lusts and our desires. It is a story that questions what love is. Jacob claims that he loves Orito but does he really? Do his actions reveal this? Jacob may be honourable refusing to accept bribery for promotion and he ultimately helps free Orito but does he act when he needs to. For me this book captured several ideas that are present in Mitchell's book [b:Cloud Atlas|49628|Cloud Atlas|David Mitchell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344305390s/49628.jpg|1871423], particularly those thoughts about mankind's will to domineer life. I particularly liked the sequence when they were discussing slavery and the will of mankind. Race remains one of the great myths created by 'science' and humanity as part of our means of creating barriers of control. People like having power and control.
This is the third of David Mitchell's books I have read. It is a strong historical fiction novel and definitely worth reading. Overall it has an interesting story, some fascinating and deep themes and it's well written too.