Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1)
by Jay Kristoff
ARC, USA Edition 316 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books
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A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
A HIDDEN GIFT
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.
One of the many things I loved about Stormdancer was the protagonist herself, Yukiko. She struck me as a girl who was both fragile and fierce at the same time. She was exactly what I was looking for in my female protags. Mostly in YA, the female protags are either the smartass-kickass with one best friend or the non-smartass girls who can't fight and have only one friend, so Kristoff's take on his protag was definitely a breath of fresh air.
Yukiko was a solid and a well-rounded character who had deep compassion. Her bond with Buruu was the most heart-warming. If you've been reading my reviews for some time now, you'd know that I have a soft spot for protagonists with adorable animal companions. While Buruu wasn't exactly a pet, but rather, a huge beast capable of killing humans with a single strike of his talons, the effect was the same. Or more so because their bond was extremely tight, they didn't treat the each other as master and pet, instead they viewed each other as siblings. You could also see the development of their relationship from indifference on Buruu's part until they formed a solid unbreakable bond. The way they protected each other tugged on my heartstrings. It was one of the most beautiful things I've read about, the type that can beat the best of romances.
Stormdancer was told from third person point of view, so being the first book with the said POV I've read all year, it took me a little while to get used to it. But once I did, the book suddenly became unputdownable. The addition of Japanese mythology was a uniquely wonderful treat. Apart from adorable pets, I also have a thing for stories about deception and politics. The type where you have to guess who're the good guys and bad guys. Stormdancer has both of that and it was one of the things that made this book even more brilliant. And the gore? Oh, I love! <3 br="br">
Stormdancer is set in a wildly imaginative world of feudal Japan, filled with complex characters who have interesting backstories. The plot was unpredictable; it oozed with pleasant surprises. At first, I thought that the description of the author about this book was overkill, but upon reading it I found that it was hardly that. The book had lots of complicated elements that gave this the tendency to become messy, but the author handled all of that really well and instead, turned this into a book of pure awesomeness.
Rating: 5/5 stars3>