I must admit that the narrative pace and the dramatic tension picked up considerably in the second half. Indeed, the book seemed to speed up as it went along until the story was almost racing like a genre novel by the last few chapters.
I thought it was clever to introduce an Afrikaner character who had been in the Boer War. This was when the British (the relative European "good guys" of the novel) committed atrocities such as a Scorched Earth policy and concentration camps. Although not gone into in depth, this helps balance the novel and keeps it from becoming simply a condemnation of Japanese war atrocities.
I also felt that a connection was being made between the aesthetic beauty of the Japanese garden and the horrific Japanese atrocities. The connecting link may be perfectionism, as the connecting link between the great German cultural achievements and the Nazi atrocities may be Romanticism.
I'm glad that Guillermo suggested this novel. While not my favorite, there is much to recommend it. I'm certain that I would never have found it on my own.
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