Runaway Horses, the second book in Mishima's The Sea of Fertility series, is a completely different book than the first. While Spring Snow is a poetic, tender love story, Runaway Horses is a political manifesto. Given what I know of reincarnation, the idea that one tries to correct the mistakes of their past life, this is a proper step in the path of the character known as Kiyoaki in the first novel. Kiyoaki was confused and unsure; he had very polar opinions of each person in his life—everyone had a sense of loveliness, everyone was out to get him. Isao, Kiyoaki reborn, knows what he wants—he is a revolutionary, he sees people as either good or evil, and he is determined to follow the plot he has created for himself until his final breath; yet Isao has no enjoyment for life, no flexibility—I anticipate in the third novel we'll find Isao reborn, a character who takes time to “stop and smell the roses.”
Mishima was a wonderful writer and I thoroughly enjoyed Runaway Horses. That being said, the series as a whole reminds me a little now of Tolstoy. In a massive work like War and Peace, Tolstoy took his time to tell love stories, fight battles, and express his views on history and politics. For Mishima, Spring Snow was the love story; Runaway Horses was the political rant. On its own, Runaway Horses delves too much into political discourse to keep the plot interesting, but within the series as a whole, it makes sense. In comparison to the first book, Runaway Horses is dry and somewhat flat; but as an addendum or companion to Spring Snow, it is a brilliant follow up. I look forward to the third novel in the series.