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Stormdancer (The Lotus War Book One) by Jay…

Stormdancer (The Lotus War Book One) (edition 2012)

by Jay Kristoff

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4426823,705 (3.86)29
Title:Stormdancer (The Lotus War Book One)
Authors:Jay Kristoff
Info:Thomas Dunne Books (2012), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

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Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff


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Damn this seductively beautiful book cover. *sigh*

Confused and worried about the yo-yo ratings given this by my friends, I was hoping my experience would fall closer to the positive end of the scale and since I decided to participate in a read-along with THT I gave it my best effort. And a challenging read it was. I dragged myself, kicking and screaming to page 80 whereupon I began the process of DNFing when I realised the griffin, much-loved by many reviewers, had entered the picture. One last chance was given for Stormdancer to win me over. Unnecessary animal cruelty sealed its fate.

The insurmountable problems I experienced while reading Stormdancer:

• Ignorance. I don't enjoy feeling stupid. Too many foreign words were introduced without explanation (some of which were repetitive). Later, I learned there was a GLOSSARY IN THE BACK. Reading the e-ARC, this was a bit of a problem. Rather than wasting time trying to figure out how to find it and refer to it in a timely manner or use Google I continued reading, hoping it wouldn't matter. IT DOES MATTER. DON'T READ THE EBOOK, read a hardcopy. To my dismay I found myself calculating how much Japanese culture, media and language I have consumed (I've watched Pokémon TV series and Studio Ghibli movies. Owned a Tamagotchi. Read and enjoyed Battle Royale and watched the movie. I'm aware of things like manga, animé, shibari and hentai.) because I understood just one word: katana. A sword. The rest...who knows what it said or meant because it went right over my head.

Authenticity was always going to be an issue being that the author is neither Japanese, and as far as I know, didn't spend considerable time in Japan. Artistic license is allowed and I definitely noticed non-Japanese references like the mention of pandas. I can't speak to how authentic Stormdancer is, but having recently read Across the Nightingale Floor, also by a Western author, I'm wary now of authors writing books set within histories and cultures they haven't immersed themselves in and admittedly know little about.

• World-building. Wading through the info-dump, compounded by my ignorance of the language, consisting of detailed stories and myths I couldn't fathom or hope to remember, was nearly impossible to read. Real myths or part of Kristoff's fiction? Important to his story or not? I didn't know. The author certainly succeeded in convincing me I was an alien introduced to an entirely different world.

• Slow pace. Very little happens in the 90 pages I read. I liked three of the scenes: the drunken gambling, the playful puppy and the childhood memory about the heroine's unusual ability to communicate with animals via telepathy. Golden nuggets of awesome in the writing of those scenes lured me into continuing. That, and the Guildsmen reminded me of Hellboy's Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. I'm not sure if that was intended or even an accurate interpretation, its just what I imagined from the description. Anyway, not much else happens between receiving orders from the Shogun to find and retrieve a griffin and actually stumbling upon one.

Unnecessary animal cruelty. If communicating with the creature was possible, why not give it an ultimatum -i.e. stop thrashing about which will cause us to crash our airship or we'll have to clip your wings, which is it? Such a simple step and one which would've preserved this mythical specimen, perhaps the only one of its kind left, to present to the Shogun in perfect condition. I hardly see the Shogun being able to ride the griffin into battle, as he wished to, now the poor creature's wings have been clipped.

I desperately wanted to like this book for its uniqueness amongst other young adult novels, even adult ones, in not only setting a tale in a non-traditional (i.e. non-Western) place but going back to feudal times, adding steampunk and griffins -a tall order. With such lofty aspirations Stormdancer was either going to be award-winningly brilliant where we'd all be toasting Kristoff's genius, or quietly hoping to forget this overly ambitious experiment. Sadly, I'm in the latter camp. Sorry.

***My thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the e-Arc in return for an honest review.***

Tor's Cover Reveal for New Steampunk Novel Stormdancer. I'm in love with this cover. ( )
1 vote Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
My brain is suffering from an overload of holy crap this book was awesome right now.

I very nearly gave up on this book quite early on. The first hundred pages or so were extremely boring. Almost nothing was happening. It was pretty much introducing characters and setting the scene. Granted though, the Steam Punk and dysptopian themes wound with Japanese fantasy were interesting...but not attention grabbing. The world described was pretty grim and bleak. The Shogun was an asshole right from the start. The female lead was likeable enough. The writing was detailed, the picture clear, the style of the prose a little too flowery and purple prosey.

And the plot was so so slow. And I came very close to DNFing several times. But once I got past the first 100 pages, the plot picked up rapidly and became brilliant. The characters leapt off the page. The story telling grabbed my attention and pretty much did not let go. The story became utterly fascinating. I became completely engrossed and loved Yukiko and her thunder tiger. There were quite a few scenes in the beginning with the griffin that were quite painful and hard to read. As the plot advanced the relationship between Yukiko and the thunder tiger was just amazing. There were more than a few points where the story was so good the writing and the connection between the two brought a tear to my eye. And it wasn't even for sad scenes.

The intricacy of the story telling and the plot developed even more, some characters turned out to be surprising. The sheer imagination in the novel is unbelievable. I don't care in the slightest how accurate the Japanese terminology is, its a fantasy, I look for good characters, believable world building and good story telling, all of which this novel had in abundance. (Once I got past the first 100 pages).

Completely unpredictable as well. More than a few times in the plot, you think you know where its going, then it twists and turns and completely surprises you. Fantastic book. Bring on the next!

This book covers several squares for my Summer Bingo reading challenge. I'm crossing off the square - Features an Animal Companion. ( )
  sunset_x_cocktail | Aug 20, 2014 |
I just read the first three chapters. I'm ready for more.
  JennyJen | Aug 14, 2014 |
Kick-ass fight scenes, vivid characters and mythic creatures in a crazy alternate steampunk Japan that will ensnare you!

I find it really hard to portray just how radtastic of a read Stormdancer is. Steampunk is certainly all the rage right now but I haven’t seen anyone do it the way Kristoff has managed. He didn’t glorify the machines, instead he showed us the gritty dirty side to what a crazed machine age could do to the once beautiful and lush country of Japan. Cue the blood red bleeding skies, with air so choked with filth the populace can’t even go about daily life without wearing a breathing apparatus. To bad the poor are stuck with just a rag over their mouths and noses. Who doesn’t like a little grime and misery?

There are the expected airships and goggles that most people have come to identify steampunk with. However, what might not be expected was the awesome mechanized full body armor suits and chainsaw like weapons.

Yukiko and Buruu (the gryphon) were excellently crafted characters. Both of them displayed solid personal growth through the entirety of the book. Yukiko went from a young girl concerned mostly with her own feelings to a woman ready to fight for the good of the people. Buruu was just as interesting. He seemed very angry and closed minded in regards to humans but the way he thinks and feels changes gradually until he trust his very life to Yukiko. I’ve rarely seen the development of a relationship done so well with the slow progression of trust.

I don’t want to give anything away but I must say there were a lot of twists in Stormdancer that I didn’t see coming. I absolutely love it when I can’t predict what is going to happen in a book. It has me foaming at the mouth to know what is going to happen next. ( )
1 vote Pabkins | Jun 24, 2014 |
Feudal Japanese pseudo-steampunk. Yukiko travels with her father to capture a mythical arashitora for the Shogun, while the island of Shima languishes under a pall of lotus smoke, which threatens to destroy the land. Part steampunk, part fantasy, part Japanese creation myth.
  LibraryGirl11 | May 29, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jay Kristoffprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chan, JasonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Amanda, My life, my love, my first and only reason
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As the iron war club scythed toward her head, Yukiko couldn't help wishing she'd listened to her father.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
His friend Yukiko kill the
Shogun of Shima.
Blood lotus is the
Life blood of Shima, but it
Poisons land, sea, air.

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In this dystopian steampunk fantasy set against a backdrop of feudal Japan, warrior Yukiko captures a supposedly extinct (but crippled) griffin for the Shogun, then learns -- after meeting secretive Kin and the rebel Kage cabal -- of the horrifying extent of the Shogun's crimes, both against her country and her family. Returning to the city, Yukiko is determined to make the Shogun pay -- but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?… (more)

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