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Stormdancer: The Lotus War Book One Kindle Edition
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|Length: 337 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
STORMDANCER was an amazing steampunk fantasy set in an alternate world Japan. It is a land controlled by a despot Shogun. Our heroine is Kitsuna Yukiko. Read morePublished 9 days ago by K. M. Martin
This book was very strongly recommended to me, so my hopes were set high. The beginning I found extremely slow and almost set it down. Read morePublished 1 month ago by InTheNyte
Well, this was a huge disappointment. I was really excited about this book, because I've been in love with Japan and its culture and history since I was 12 and seeing it in a YA... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dakota @ Magic in Every Books
Overall, not very original and hard to care about the characters. Buruu is the only saving grace.
Major pet peeve: If I had the time, I'd count how many times the word... Read more
Great read. Nothing life changing, but one of the funnest reads I've had in a long time. Love the world, the relationship between characters and a noble cause all coming to life. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Best Hubris
Wonderful dystopian world, great characters and engaging story line. Well told narrative. I look forward to the sequel.Published 4 months ago by Marlette Compion-Venter
First, let me say I don't care about all the cultural appropriate stuff. I didn't let that come into the rating of the books at all. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Brandon
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