Our hero, Otori Takeo, is torn in three directions. He was brought up by the Hidden, a religious order that forbids violence. He was adopted by Otori Shigeru, a warrior with a long-term plan to reclaim his heritage from his uncles Ė a plan known and secretly embraced by his people. And Takeoís genetic heritage binds him strongly to the Tribe, a group of assassins with special abilities, who would kill him rather than let him go. In addition to all this, he is in love with Lady Shirakawa Kaede, his equal in rank and risk.
This book, like the rest, is gorgeously written and powerful: a tale of honour and sacrifice. I love it. You can technically read it without reading the rest (it even has quite a good conclusion), but the series is confusing enough (lots of names, and many of them are similar) without missing bits. Besides, it would be a shame not to read the whole series (excluding the fourth book, which takes place some time after the trilogy and, although well written, is quite different to the rest).
Free sample (from the beginning; Otori Takeo is one of the Kikuta section of the Tribe):
Shirakawa Kaede lay deeply asleep in the state close to unconsciousness that the Kikuta can deliver with their gaze. The night passed, the stars paled as dawn came, the sounds of the temple rose and fell around d her, but she did not stir. She did not hear her companion, Shizuka, call anxiously to her from time to time, trying to wake her.
Rating: M/MA for sex, violence, and violent sex (never gratuitous, but itís there)