September 28, 2012

Quick Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Series: Lotus Wars 1
Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Excerpt here
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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.

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.

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.

If I didn't know any better, I'd say that STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff was written by a Japanese dude and not by a Dave Grohl look-alike. One can tell he really did his research and spared no detail in creating a bona fide feudal Japan. He didn't bastardize anything and the samurai theme, hierarchy of the classes, terminologies, tradition, culture and other details related to this part of the world in this era were perfect.

  • The myth is authentic to Japanese folklore and I'm happy that he didn't "westernize" the story.
  • Even if STORMDANCER is Steampunk the predominant feel of the tale is fantasy so this is one of those genre crossing books.
  • Yukiko, the sixteen year-old heroine of this book, was an amazing character, her moral dilemmas were effectively written and as a reader I can't help but empathize with her.
  • Buruu, the legendary arashitora, thunder tiger or a griffin, was not just a beast but a character on his own and his connection to Yukiko leapt off the pages and drew me in. Buruu sure had me shedding a lot of tears when he finally met that despicable Shogun.
  • Yukiko and Buruu reminded me of the movie Dragonheart (1996, Sean Connery).
  • The love story is juicy and it's not your usual straight-up cutesy romance. 
  • Yukiko just joined the ranks of Celaena Sardothien and Alix Nico.

Get the book, it's worth every penny and it won't be a waste of shelf space and time.
Sometimes we don't get what we deserve. We play the cards we are dealt instead of whining about what might've been. Therein lies the difference between and adult and a child. 
One day you will see that we must sometimes sacrifice for the sake of something greater. 
Dying is easy. Anyone can throw themselves into the pyre and rest a happy martyr. Enduring the suffering that comes with the sacrifice is the real test.

Visit Jay Kristoff's blog

What about release dates for the next two books in the series?
Book #2 has been handed in to my editors. It should be released early-mid 2013. Third book will probably be nine months or so after that, presuming I don’t lose my tiny mind writing it (50/50 at this point).

Steampunk fantasy? Which is it – a steampunk book, or a fantasy book?
Both. Techinically all Steampunk is fantasy, but STORMDANCER has elements of more traditional… (I hate the term, but I’m going to use it) ”High Fantasy” settings. No magic swords or Dark Lords™ or “It’s so heavy, Sam.” “Cheer up Mr Frodo!” “But I’m so tired, Sam.” “Give us a kiss, Mr Frodo!” shenanigans.

But it does have griffins. Well, A griffin. So calling it straight steampunk would kinda be like lying.

So STORMDANCER is set in feudal Japan?
Wellllllll, sort of. It’s set on a group of islands with a culture extraordinarily similar to Japan during feudal times. The language, culture and societal structures are all drawn from Japanese counterparts. But feudal Japan didn’t have many griffins, given that they’re, you know, mythical beasts and whatnot. The setting is a country is called “Shima” (which is Japanese for “Island”).

The protagonist in my book is a sixteen year old girl. Does that automatically make it YA? My agent says “no”. My editors say “definitely not, now get the fuck back to work”.

I’d describe STORMDANCER as ”pure crossover”. The protagonist is young, but the themes and language and style are going to resonate with an older reader. They are heavy. In theory, everyone is going to find something in there to like. You will all be bawling your eyes out at some point in the novel, no matter how old you are. I promise.

OH MY GOD. Has anyone told you that you look like Dave Grohl?

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  1. Bahahaha, I thought "Dave Grohl wrote a book under a pen name" when I first saw the authors picture! Ugh, I can't believe I don't have this book and haven't read this book. It seems right up my alley and it's been getting much love. Jealous right about now.

    - Jessica @ Book Sake

  2. Yay! I'm so glad you loved it Braine!! :D I was hoping you would!! >.< And Kristoff is hilarious! xD LOL I LOVE BURUU!!! *JustSaying <3 LOL

  3. YUSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! I did love this book. Dave errr I mean Jay is a very funny Aussie lad. We are growing some great boys over here. I've got a photo on my phone which I am trying to get off my phone but apparently HTC phone isn't as simple as plug usb in and whalahhhh!! You have to jump through hoops, why , who knows???!!! But I have a photo that I want to get off to show Jay and be continued....loL!! I shall get the bloody thing off!

    Waiting * taps foot* for book 2!


  4. This one's in my TBR pile :) I haven't read any steampunk books, so that's why I'm a bit hesitant to jump in & see what all this awesome praise is about. But, I'm willing to give it a chance :) Great review, Braine :)

    Ana♥ @ Beach Bum Reads

  5. Stormdancer is on my have-to-purchase-asap-wish-list! I'm SO jealous you got to read it! Great review! :D
    DeAnna Schultz


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