June 25, 2016

Steampunk Sundays: Toru: Wayfarer Returns by Stephanie R. Sorensen

Series: Sakura Steam 1
Format: eGalley
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Palantir Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Steampunk

Revolutionary young samurai with dirigibles take on Commodore Perry and his Black Ships in this alternate history steampunk technofantasy set in 1850s samurai-era Japan.

In Japan of 1852, the peace imposed by the Tokugawa Shoguns has lasted 250 years. Peace has turned to stagnation, however, as the commoners grow impoverished and their lords restless. Swords rust. Martial values decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation's closed borders like vultures, growing ever more demanding.

Toru, a shipwrecked young fisherman rescued by American traders and taken to America, defies the Shogun's ban on returning to Japan, determined to save his homeland from foreign invasion. Can he rouse his countrymen in time? Or will the cruel Shogun carry out his vow to execute all who set foot in Japan after traveling abroad? Armed only with his will, a few books, dirigible plans and dangerous ideas, T ru must transform the Emperor's realm before the Black Ships come.

How can I NOT read TŌRU: WAYFARER RETURNS what with that super attractive cover and it's a Japanese steampunk! I expected this to read like manga or anime, lots of action, high velocity adventure, with a huge dash of culture. 

Sadly I had to DNF this before I even hit midway. The novel had a good start, Tōru is somewhat of a dark horse, the unassuming hero that has a noble but secret familial ties, somewhat of a Renaissance man, destined to help Japan beat the American planned invasion. My problem is the story moved in one straight line. There's a lot of plotting and planning, telling more than showed, the lack of exciting events eventually overpowered the easy style of writing. Where's the intrigue? There's not a lot of contrast to build-up the oncoming war, where are the conflicts between the ruling daimyos; what kind of preparations are the Americans doing at this point to conquer Japan? 

I might be wrong, these might have happened later on in the story but sadly I wasn't motivated enough to find out. 

Talk Supe


  1. Uh soon as I saw that DNF, I knew it couldn't be good. (lol) This is a genre that I just cannot get into, but I know a lot of people are reading it. I sort of got into the blurb, but after your telling review, I knew this was one I probably wouldn't finish either. Hope your Sunday is Super! Hugs...RO

  2. Intriguing cover but I'm sorry to see that it wasn't more than that

  3. Sorry to hear that but it happens.

  4. Aww, that's too bad about this one. More telling than showing is huge reading pet peeve of mine.

  5. Well, at least the cover was kick.ass

  6. Oh bummer and yeah that cover just screams awesome but I prefer show not tell.

  7. Oh that's a shame this one didn't work for you. It sounded promising and the cover looked promising. Too much telling instead of showing can really annoy me as well, it just doesn't read as well. And that's too bad there wasn't any intrigue or build-up.

  8. Going from that cover I would think that this would be a fun read... a shame you didn't get into it.

  9. Bummer. It really does have the gorgeous cover though! :D

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