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Stormdancer: The Lotus War Book One by [Kristoff, Jay]
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Stormdancer: The Lotus War Book One Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 248 customer reviews

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Length: 337 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Set in feudal Japan, Stormdancer is a steampunk fantasy with richly drawn mythical creatures and a tough female protagonist. Yukiko and her father are sent to the hinterlands to capture a Thunder Tiger, which is rumored to exist there. Dogged by disaster from the start, Yukiko fights to take a stand against corrupt political systems and personal betrayal. Along the way, she discovers the truth behind her family history and dreams of redemption for herself, her homeland, and the crippled Griffin, with whom she makes an alliance. While this first book in the series paints a descriptive backdrop, casual readers may find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of original terms and concepts they'll need to digest. The plot is similarly dense, packed full of surprising twists and turns, nonstop action, and intense dialogue. Committed readers will enjoy the original and genre-bending world that the author creates, but it will take time and effort.-Sunnie Sette, New Haven Public Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

A cruel, selfish shogun sends a father-daughter team on a seemingly impossible task: to capture the near-mythical Arashitora, half white eagle and half white tiger. Daughter Yukiko succeeds in snaring the beast, only to discover that they share a bond that will ultimately take them on a larger quest to dethrone a shogun and lead his people out of slavery and addiction. This steampunk series opener set in feudal Japan is a skillful example of world building, although the denseness of the description may discourage some readers early on. Kristoff thoughtfully includes several glossaries and a few maps to support his imaginary world. Those who stay with it will be well rewarded with 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. Grades 9-12. --Cindy Welch

Product Details

  • File Size: 2490 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; Reprint edition (September 18, 2012)
  • Publication Date: September 18, 2012
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007XSN05E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,208 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Vickie T. VINE VOICE on July 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
On the positive side, this book has crossed a dystopian steampunk story with a fantasy novel and it actually works. Quite well, in fact. The basic plot is excellent and the cast of characters is varied and interesting.

The problem for me, and the main reason for the 3 star review, is that I really disliked the author's writing style. Here is a sentence taken from the book: "A five-sided fist of yellow stone amidst a growth of hunchbacked, abandoned slaughterhouses, the great nest of pipes and tanks and vomiting chimneys that must be the refinery, a rusted length of intestine spilling from its bowels and leading off north toward First House." Now, picture page after page of sentences just like that one and you can understand why, at one point, it took a whole chapter just to describe a walk across town. I completely understand that this is a matter of personal preference. Some people enjoy this style of writing and some don't. I just happen to be one who does not.

I had a few other minor quibbles. Many of the characters were too one-dimensional. The author often chose to describe in great detail things that I didn't really care that much about, while completely skipping over events I wanted to know more about. The story left me with some unanswered questions that may, or may not be addressed in future books - both the subtitle, "The Lotus War Book One," and the Amazon description indicate that this is intended to be the first in a series.

Do I recommend this book? Maybe. As I said, the basic premise and plot are great. If the idea of a feudal Japanese dystopian steampunk fantasy novel appeals to you and you aren't bothered by the writing style, with its long, descriptive, adjective-overloaded sentences, then you will probably enjoy this book. However, I didn't like it enough to read any future books in the series.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Oh and I forgot to mention the cover! That gorgeous and sexy cover. I LOVE IT. But yeah, still didn't love the book.

It was mainly because of the writing - there was just way too much description for everything and I mean EVERYTHING. Details upon details are dumped onto the reader and it was just too much for me. And I use the word "dumped" because that's what it felt like. And it was boring. Was this book really only 336 pages long? Because it felt like 2,000.

I've read books with overdone writing like this before, but if there's a saving grace like say, awesome character development, then I can overlook it and still like the book. Obviously, this book didn't have that either. With one exception, the characters all came across as pretty one-dimensional and I felt detached from them throughout the entire novel.

And lastly, I know this is fiction so, yeah, the author can play pretend all he wants however he wants, but still I have to say - the heavy misuse of real Japanese words was annoying to me. Don't worry, I'm not going to go off on some white-man-raping-my-culture rant, but come on, if you're gonna use certain Japanese words so prevalently throughout your book, couldn't you have done just a LITTLE research to make sure you're using it correctly? (like -sama. Hello!)

Anyway, it's a cool idea - like, seriously cool - so I have to give the author props for that. Which is why this gets 2 stars instead of 1.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I should have known better, since Stormdancer's own cover blurb praises the idea of the book rather than its actual quality. But I was intrigued by the description, and didn't realize that the book is much more appropriate for teenage anime/video game fans than for a general adult fantasy audience.

To start with something positive: the dystopian/steampunk elements of this book are pretty cool, and I like that it deals with environmental and social issues. And I didn't feel the urge to throw it at a wall. It does get a little bit better as it goes, and finishes strong (relatively speaking--I was never moved, but the end is the best part). And, in fairness, I am not a teenager and have never been very interested in anime; I don't melt at the phrase "chainsaw katana"; and so I'm not in the target demographic for this book.

Now the plot. Teenage Yukiko accompanies her father on a supposedly impossible mission to capture a "thunder-tiger" (part eagle, part tiger, essentially a griffin) for the evil Shogun, but winds up teaming up with the thunder-tiger to fight the Shogun instead. Here's where my problems with Stormdancer begin. The plot drags, especially but not exclusively in the first third of the book, weighed down by a ponderous style. Rather than building great imagery through well-chosen details, Kristoff dumps enormous amounts of detail on the reader in a pedestrian writing style, such that almost nothing happens for the first 50 pages. Here's a sample:

"She wore an outfit of sturdy gray cloth, unadorned save for a small fox embroidered on the breast, cut simply for the sake of utility. An uwagi tunic covered her from neck to mid-thigh, open at the throat, long, loose sleeves with folded cuffs rippling in the feeble breeze.
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This book reads like a generic steampunk fantasy that was sent back by its editor with a note that read, "I like this, but it needs a little kick. Find a way to make it more original and we'll publish it."

So the author decided to go and re-skin the whole thing with Japanese motifs and terms he barely appears to understand. Beyond that, it's fairly by-the-numbers for a 'steampunk' adventure.

I disagree somewhat with those that take issue with fantasy stories not representing an Asian culture accurately (i.e. the inclusion of Chinese, Korean or say, Indian elements). Authors mix and match and play fast and loose with European and Mediterranean cultures all the time and no one cares. I don't see that Asian cultures should be any different when used as inspiration for fantasy settings.

That said, when you start using real-terms aside from what's absolutely necessary to build your world (using the term katana is fine in this sense but throwing in random Japanese words for other things is less fine, like Arashi-no-ko when Stormgirl works fine; Arashitora is fine but constantly mis-using suffixes like -sama or -chan is not), there are certain expectations of understanding on the part of the author, and these expectations are reasonable.

Additionally, if an author is going to present a world heavily based on a culture, he or she does owe it to that culture to accurately represent certain aspects of that culture, the things that really set it apart, things that will grant it a certain verisimilitude it will otherwise lack, as is the case in Stormdancer.

Samurai are not just knights with two swords and funny hairdos, Bushido is not chivalry, a shogun is not a generic autocrat, and the caste system - if present - should actually mean something.
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