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Kinslayer: The Lotus War Book Two Hardcover – September 17, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
The second Japanese-flavored steampunk adventure in the Lotus War series (after 2012's Stormdancer) starts with a bang when teen kitsune Yukiko, craving revenge for her father's murder, destroys three Lotus Guild warships. But the tides turn when Lord Hiro, Yukiko's former lover and the Guild's foremost ally, declares himself the Daimyo. Yukiko's uncontrollable powers also become as dangerous as any enemy. The Guild stands poised to crush Yukiko's burgeoning rebellion, and the empire's fate hangs on three unlikely people: Artificer Kin, increasingly conflicted about his decision to follow Yukiko; Burakumin Hana, derided and considered beneath notice; and Kage Michi, a maidservant whose relationship with a magistrate threatens more than her heart. Though Kristoff opens with a character refresher, new readers might have difficulty following the story, and while the action scenes are just as thrilling and the plot even more fast-paced than in the first volume, this sequel is undermined by its increasingly one-note pseudo-Japanese setting, as well as its reliance on predictable tropes. Agent: Matt Bialer, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.)
“Kinslayer is intense and heart-punching. Are you ready? Probably not. Will you venture into the storm anyway? I think you should.” ―YABooksCentral.com
“Kristoff is the master of unique and intense plots and huge twists. This book has it all--and a nice little bow to tie it all up with. There are swords, action, friendship, a conspiracy, grief and hope. It's going on my "Amazing Reads" shelf, and I urge you to pick it up.” ―USAToday.com
“With its geisha girls in gas masks and canvas blimps spewing black exhaust as they chug across the sky, Stormdancer paints a vivid picture of a decrepit, steampunk Japan. It's startling to witness a country that so reveres nature presented in such an environmentally compromised position, as it is in the kickoff to Jay Kristoff's "The Lotus War" series. But it's this inventive juxtaposition that makes Stormdancer such a thrilling addition to the increasingly tired yet continuously expanding dystopian scene.... [A] fast-paced, fantastical adventure [that] is sharp as a Shogun's sword.” ―The LA Times
“Stormdancer is an intoxicating joyride into steampunklandia with a magical dose of mythology, the supernatural, violence, dystopian themes, and a top-notch brassy heroine who rivals Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games. Yes, I did say that!” ―Huffington Post
“Kristoff's imaginative debut, the first in a series, presents the feudal, dystopian Shima Empire, a menacing Japanese-inspired setting... The innovative setting, fast-moving plot, vivid descriptions, and thrilling action scenes make this a refreshing addition to the steampunk canon.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Soars higher than the arashitora Kristoff writes about; superb.” ―Kirkus, starred review
“Jay Kristoff's Stormdancer is steampunk by way of feudal Japan, in which a young woman with unusual abilities befriends a thunder tiger in a polluted industrial wasteland. Strong heroines, detailed settings, and fascinating legends hit the sweet spot.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Japanese Steampunk unafraid to engage with the dark side of the subgenre. The Lotus must bloom!” ―SF Signal
“A steampunk fantasy with richly drawn mythical creatures and a tough female protagonist.... Packed full of surprising twists and turns, nonstop action, and intense dialogue.” ―School Library Journal
“[T]he plot takes off when the mythical arashitora (literally 'stormtiger') forms a strong bond with dagger-wielding heroine, Yukiko. Her relationship with the griffin-like creature is especially poignant in light of the personal losses she reveals as the story unfolds... it's the bonds of family and friendship that feel the truest, with heartwrenching effect.” ―Romantic Times
“Think Lassie, if Kurosawa had been the director and Lassie had been three tons of angry mythical demon-shredding sass bent on pushing Timmy down the well... A colorful cast of supporting characters and thoughtful plotting add further to Stormdancer's appeal, but, really, Kristoff has the reader at "girl meets griffin." The captivating backdrop, graceful prose and army of mechanized samurai are all just added bonuses.” ―Shelf Awareness
“What's that? You say you've got a Japanese Steampunk novel with mythic creatures, civil unrest, and a strong female protagonist? I'm afraid I missed everything you said after "Japanese Steampunk." That's all I really needed to hear.” ―Patrick Rothfuss, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear
“With airships, demons, and lashings of revolutionary swordplay, this chi-fueled vision of a steampunk feudal Japan will blow your split-toed socks off.” ―Scott Westerfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Leviathan
“Jay Kristoff pushes the steampunk genre exactly where it needs to go, away from Victorian London's over-trodden lanes and into the great wide world. With its rocketing action, eccentric and convincing characters, and deep immersion in heroic Japanese culture, Stormdancer slammed my head into an updated vision of the great chanbara films of Kurosawa and Kobayashi. I'll be waiting for more from Mr. Kristoff.” ―K.W. Jeter, author of The Kingdom of Shadows
“Set in a complex and richly imagined world, Stormdancer draws on inspirations as widespread as epic fantasy, steampunk, and Japanese mythology, effortlessly piecing them together into an alternate history that is as vibrant as it is disturbing. Yukiko is an admirable heroine, made of compassion and courage, but it's the remarkable friendship forged between Yukiko and the majestic thunder tiger, Buruu, that readers will find truly unforgettable. In this breathtaking debut fantasy, Kristoff has given us an adventure teeming with impossible quests and betrayals, rebellion and murder, jealousy and harbored secrets. I eagerly look forward to seeing where his imagination takes us next.” ―Marissa Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of Cinder
“Jay Kristoff's Yukiko and her indomitable thunder tiger's entertaining adventures have just sent steampunk gloriously Asian.” ―Stephen Hunt, internationally bestselling author of The Kingdom Beyond the Sea
“Kristoff's debut is a lyrical triumph of chainsaw swords and thunder tigers that steampunk fans and mythology buffs will devour.” ―Kevin Hearne, author of The Iron Druid Chronicles
“If you enjoy rich detail and sensual writing, you'll dig it.... Bristling with energy and enthusiasm, this is the start of what should be a deservedly popular series.” ―Library Journal
“Compelling characters--particularly Yukiko, the Arashitora Buruu, and the artificer Kin--a strong environmental message, and a thrilling battle setting the stage for the sequel. Offer this to fans of Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy or Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles.” ―Booklist
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No one is safe. No one is guaranteed to be here at the end. No one is definitely playing for team good if there is such a thing. It was amazing how by halfway through the story I had no idea who I should like, who I should trust or who I want to come out on the other side of this series.
I usually like to have a ship in my story that I’m sorta rooting for. AND I did…until I didn’t. I found another but that is probably doomed to. This is the first book I’ve read in a while that makes me think there is no way anyone will get any kind of happy ending.
I didn’t really quess any of the twists. Maybe that is because I’m a polyanna and this is a bit more dark than I’m used to but there was more than one shock that turned my stomach. So want to give a big bravo to Jay because he surprised me over and over again.
I have enjoyed the writing and the way things are described. Dialogues are also really well done. At times it seems a little preachy but that is part of the story so I’ll accept it. Also I don’t know a lot about Japanese culture but this seems to take the expected cultural tropes from that.
I’m both excited and really afraid to see how this will end. I think I might need some chocolate and something furry to cuddle when everything is said and done.
Despite featuring a teenaged protagonist going up against a dystopian government, Kristoff is surprisingly not attempting to pander to the larger young-adult demographic. This series strikes a strong middle-ground between catering towards adults with the inclusion of mature content, while still featuring enough young characters for teens to connect with on a personal level. There’s a surprising amount of graphic violence in the book; something that’s by no means a bad thing, yet I mention it because it still managed to take me by surprise, even having read the previous book. Kristoff’s adult-centric direction works in the series’ favor by allowing him to more thoroughly showcases the brutality of the world, its inhabitants, without having to compromise to a more timid demographic. The intensely graphic nature of the book is particularly emphasized during the book’s entertaining climax, which was rewarding given the book’s questionable pacing. Make no mistake; if you’re looking for another young-adult dystopian series, this is not it. The themes are character archetypes are familiar, yet the overall tone of the series is far more graphic than those only read young-adult fiction may be accustomed to. Again, this is not a demerit, only a word of caution.
However, if there’s one cliché in fiction which I openly despise, it would be the use of love triangles, typically the ones which portray a strong and independent female protagonist being transformed into a clueless schoolgirl at the mercy of her maturing hormones. They’re completely pointless and are nothing more than clichéd method for illustrating romances which feel completely underdeveloped and laughably artificial. To my genuine surprise and delight, Stormdancer managed to throw a wrench into this cliché by having Hiro turn on Yukiko, leaving Kin as her sole love interest. Not only was this a great twist in the first book, but it allows Kinslayer to portray a very compelling villain. With the shogun killed by the hands of Yukiko, Hiro has now taken up the role as shogun in an attempt to unite the various zaibatsu of the Shima Imperium, crush the rebel Kage, and conquer the Gaijin once and for all. I’m always a fan of villains who possess a personal relationship with the book’s protagonist, particularly one born out of extreme hatred. It goes a long way in making them stand out as more than just the tired moustache-twirling villains of old and into something more nuanced.
Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed Kristoff’s characterization for Hiro, where Kinslayer suffers the most is in the manner it handles its protagonist Yukiko. I found her to be characterized well as a strong and empathetic heroine in Stormdancer. Yet despise this, she never established her own identity as a unique character amongst a genre brimming with similar female protagonists. Going into Kinslayer, I felt that this sequel would serve as the chance for Kristoff to take off the training wheels and further characterize the Yukiko character into one he could truly call his very own; and in all fairness, Kristoff starts off on the right track to doing so. The explosive opening chapter and the following ones characterize Yukiko in the midst of an emotional cacophony. Her desire to no longer be the helpless victim whom others need to protect, combined with her burning hatred for the Lotus Guild, and the unbearable anxiety of having being placed as the figurehead for a revolution she never asked to be part of have led Yukiko on a dark path. Her only emotional anchors keeping her in check are Kin’s compassion and moral guidance, and Burou’s companionship. However, just as I began to enjoy this interesting cross-road in Yukiko’s characterization, it is unceremoniously dropped completely, only to resurface much later in the book as a blind epiphany which emerges with no believable build-up or development. There is zero believability or any satisfying character-arc that poignantly demonstrates Yukiko’s dangerous descent into bloodlust, or her supposed realization which she discovers and ultimately uses to overcome her personal demons. As a reader, it’s astonishing to see a promising protagonist handled in such a lazy and underwhelming fashion. I would logically assume that Kristoff wanted Yukiko’s presence to be felt throughout the story due to her actions in the previous book rather than having a physical presence in the events that unfold; however, this approach isn’t interesting and leads to nothing but complete disappointment. I wanted to see Yukiko overcome her problems and rise to the challenge as a leader which she never knew she could become. Instead, she’s allocated to sitting on the sidelines while the other story-arcs play out, making her completely irrelevant to the events unfolding. To make it abundantly clear, I am not against allowing supporting characters to have a greater role in sequels, yet I draw the line when the protagonist doesn’t become relevant until the very last few pages of the book.
Fortunately, where Kinslayer manages to make up some of the slack caused by its no-show protagonist is through its use of several story-arcs, each of which is used to illustrate the greater scope of the story while also showcasing both old and new characters in a new light. One of the new characters to the series, Hana, almost completely steals the show. Being inspired by Yukiko’s actions in the previous book’s climax only serves to further my belief in which Yukiko’s role in the book is meant to be one of a myth that either instills courage or fear, rather than actually having a physical role in the story. Unfortunately, due to the sheer abundance of story-arcs, it takes quite some time before any of them truly begin to build momentum, thus making the overall pacing much slower.
I enjoyed Stormdancer despite feeling that it possessed a slew of problems, yet Kinslayer is a disappointing step down from what could have been a significant improvement over its predecessor. Its strongest assets include Hana’s story-arc and the series’ unique aesthetic amalgamation between steampunk and traditional Japanese culture. There are also some truly unforeseen twists with characters which are bound to be controversial among fans, though I applaud Kristoff for daring to do so. Yet the issues that plague the book are too significant to ignore, Yukiko is so irrelevant to the story that she’s essentially non-existent, leading to one of the most eyebrow-raising examples of characterization in recent memory. Combine this with the narrative’s questionable pacing and you have a book that fails to improve upon, or match the quality of its predecessor. Yet all hope is not lost, for the ending points to what could possibly be a truly captivating final chapter in the series, though of course I cannot explain why I think this way without spoiling the book. I just hope that part three will succeed where the others failed, maybe the third times the charm.
This novel has characters and these characters are motivated by more than themselves. Ignoring that jab, the lotus wars series is a compelling, well paced, well written piece of work. What strikes me most about my love for the series is that I love the author's writing rather than the world. The steampunk world is fairly interesting with its last exile ships and environmental crisis but it is the author's ability to furnish a mind with rich imagery that sets this piece apart. This is a busy book- almost too busy- doing a lot of work and sort of diverting some characters to a degree in order to move the world forward. This still works though with it being limited to a trilogy some questions about the world remained unanswered and a certain character's development was delayed a pinch too much- maybe. That said he does make it up with several others growing into full bodied narrative heroes and compelling new perspectives. It's remarkable that even going in expecting twists, how artfully and well masked they were.
My only complaints would be that I lost track of how certain problems were solved but then again that character was busy his/her self. With this pacing though I could see how this will be neatly finished in three books. It saddens me though. Sometimes reading is like sipping a great drink.
Well worth your time. I actually bought the kindle book to read while I waited for this book to arrive (after reading the first novel ofcourse) and it was fantastic.