Title: Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1)
Author: Jay Kristoff
Published: September 18th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review
"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 SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
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."
Thoughts: When I first heard about STORMDANCER, I instantly knew I had to get my hands on it immediately. Japanese steampunk? Enticed yet? Well folks, you should be. This book is that and so much more. Part fantasy and 100% kick butt, STORMDANCER will take you on an epic journey you hope never ends.
Like most journeys, the road is not easy. There were moments where I was so frustrated, I just wanted to scream. At the same time, there were moments that were so beautiful, so breathtaking, I clutched to the book and hoped for more. This story is filled with such wonderful lore and such a wonderful cast of characters, it felt like I was watching a movie.
I am so grateful the author decided to write a story set in Japan. He included bits and pieces of history and stories I've never heard of. Note to the readers, there is a dictionary in the back of the book. Utilize this. It will help describe terminology you may or may not be familiar with. Trust me, it'll help.
The romance in this novel is very limited and in my personal opinion, should stay that way. There is a love interest, Hiro, but he doesn't have as much depth as I'd like. Sure he's gorgeous, with his sparking green eyes and whatnot, but compared to the other characters in the book, he seems to just fade away in the background. I'm not saying he's poorly written nor bad in any way. I'm just saying he's just a little bland for my taste.
Yukiko, on the other hand, is a fabulous heroine. She's everything anyone could ask for in a protagonist: strong, smart, and fearless. And though she is all of these things and so much more, I must admit that my favorite of all the character was Buruu. Yes, I just admitted my favorite character indeed is the thunder tiger. To me, the story didn't take off till he entered the picture. I mean, a talking flying griffin who speaks to Yukiko! SPEAKS! Of all the dialogue in this novel, Buruu's was by far the wittiest and my personal favorite. I mean, this kid...eeerr, cub?... should go on the road, maybe do some stand-up comedy! How can the thunder tiger be brooding? I don't know, but Buruu is.
“It's easy to lose yourself in the idea of a person and be blinded to their reality.”
How true is this? Nicely put!
“Dying is easy. Anyone can throw themselves onto the pyre and rest a happy martyr. Enduring the suffering that comes with sacrifice is the real test.”
This quote definitely sets the tone for the book.
“He's probably out there in the hallway right now, composing bad poetry in his head." Michi cleared her throat, her voice taking on a breathless lilt:\
'Pale Fox's Daughter,
Her cherry lips haunt my dreams.
Something, something, breasts...'”
Overall, I highly recommend STORMDANCER. If you're a fan of adventurous, heartbreaking books with a beautiful setting, then this is the book for you. It's not always an easy read, but it's undeniably a good one!