“I have to agree with the Patrick Rothfuss quote on the cover:" 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 need to hear." I...”see full review » see other reviews »
“I have to agree with the Patrick Rothfuss quote on the cover:" 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 need to hear." I enjoyed this, especially the japanese steampunk part, although most of the book didn't have the steampunk elements. The political commentary about the environment was well done.”Zombie Katie wrote this review 4 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Stormdancer has such a distinctive feel that impacted me as a reader. The mix of rich Japanese-like culture and folklore with a dystopian twist. The main character is a brave but troubled young woman who earns my loyalty and encourages me to stand up for what I personally believe in.
But the one thing that really won me over was the connection between Yukiko and the arashitora, who she names Buruu. I’ve been an animal person since I was a wee lassie, and the bond between humans and animals is very important in my life. To see the love and trust that grows between Yukiko and Buruu, and their devotion almost brought tears to my eyes, because I am a true sap about stuff like that. Buruu is a majestic and beautiful creature, although fiercely lethal and untamable, as a legendary creature should be. I loved that although Buruu doesn’t tame down or change in his essential nature, he grows as the bond with Yukiko develops. They teach each other things important for their journey.
The world of the Shima Isles is a dark one. The place hovers on the brink of ecological disaster, and many crimes against humanity occur daily. The Shogun is clearly mad, and his power without limitation. On top of that is the Guild, which strives to make more of their poison lotus, despite its cost to their world and the people within it, and burns people who they view as heretics, probably all of which are innocent. In this kind of world, it’s hard to have hope, which is why Yukiko begins this story as a sullen and miserable young woman. She’s lost more than she can reconcile, feels the personal sting of betrayal daily, and it’s wounded her emotionally. What a good time for Buruu to come along, although their connection is not without anguish for them both. But in this world, personal sacrifice is necessary to right the terrible wrongs occurring. In the end, they are healing and comfort and safety to each other in a dark place. Together, they will not be defeated.
Stormdancer is a very good book. While it took time for me to get into the flow of terminology and world-building, I appreciate the author’s efforts to create such an immersive, fascinating world. The Japanese cultural elements appealed highly to me. Of course, I loved the strong young heroine, among many strong capable women who fight for their world just as the men do. The action scenes brought to mind some of my favorite martial arts/fantasy movies. I admit I am a serious fan of swordplay, and this book has some beautiful and bloody evidence of this martial art, along with others. I could see this is a gorgeous anime-style film, but I hope that it is made in live action, with its all Asian cast. I would definitely pay money to see this on the big screen.
While I agree that is definitely for young adults and for older readers who enjoy young adult fiction, I like that Kristoff doesn’t curtail his writing merely to fit in the current YA trend. The violence is quite descriptive and there is some sensual content (although fade to black). The storyline is quite dark, with the ecological sabotage for power and money, the cruelty and violence against so called enemies of the state, and the disregard for the welfare and needs of the citizenry. I think there are good lessons in here, although I don’t think Kristoff ever strays into PSA territory. It’s inherent and beautifully integral to this novel. Personally, I think this book is fine for readers 14 and older. However, I would recommend a parent reading it first.
This one is very close to a five star rating, but since some scenes lacked clarity, I ended up giving it 4.5/5.0 stars. Despite that, I highly recommend it to dystopian, fantasy, and Asian folklore fans.”
“Fun book with difficult characters names to remember. ”John B wrote this review Thursday, May 2, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Beware, the first 6 chapters are slow. Once the Thunder Child departs the story picks up and the book actually becomes interesting.”Esedyda ... wrote this review Wednesday, May 1, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Amazing and original! Inspired by Magna(Japanese comics) and influenced by Dune.
Yukiko and her father are Hunters for the Shogun. They are commanded by Yoritomo to bring him back a thunder tiger.
The plot involves the underlying themes of the batttle between Nature and Industrializtion and the effects: polution and destruction of the environment which suit the gener of Steampunk.”
“Loved it!”Sarah J wrote this review Saturday, March 30, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“And now, the book genre I did not know I had been waiting my whole life to read: Japanese steampunk. Oh, hell yes.
Set in an alternate feudal Japan where a crumbling empire is teetering on the brink of collapse due to its dependence on the blood lotus (a plant that powers their machines, drugs their populace, and is rapidly destroying their land while it pollutes a sky that has turned red from its toxins), Yukiko is a member of the Fox Clan. Her father, the imperial hunter, is given an impossible task--to catch an extinct griffin and return it to the power crazed Shogun. When the quest proves successful, Yukiko uses her secret gift, the Keening, to probe the mind of the griffin only to find the animal possesses a human like consciousness and intelligence. The Keening is a gift for which Yukiko could be killed if it's discovered by the religious zealots known as The Guild, mechanized men who keep the blood lotus blooming and wield the true power of the Shogun's empire. As her mind becomes increasingly intertwined with that of the griffin, Yukiko begins to question the rigid class system and the reliance upon a power source that is so clearly destroying the environment and the minds of the populace.
During the first 40 pages or so, I was settling in to truly dislike the book. I mean, it's got some problems: some purple prose here and there, a bit of melodrama, a monster that seems a little too easily tamed, and some seriously anachronistic language (I was ready to bail when a poster in the beginning encourages people to "be all that you can be"). At times, it also seems as though the author is trying too hard to convince us that he knows Japanese history and culture (seppuku is mentioned umpteen times--yes, we get it, you know what seppuku is; move on). The environmental theme also bothered me in the beginning; the blood lotus as a stand-in for big oil is pretty transparent. I can attribute my initial reaction to the fear that the core of the book was simply going to be a didactic environmental message and the fantasy elements were simply a veneer for an agenda. Once I realized the environmental message was taking absolutely nothing away from the world-building, I embraced it. (By the way, I have nothing against such messages and, in fact, whole-heartedly agree with them; I just prefer them in non-fiction form.)
However, there's also a lot that's right: 1984-esque overtones, an inventive world, Iron Samurai, air ships powered by the blood lotus, Japanese mythology, and, my favorite, the Keening that allows you to witness Yukiko and the griffin become of one mind (this also helps offset the seemingly impossible ease with which Yukiko tames the beast; in fact, she becomes more aggressive and animalistic in her responses as the griffin engages in more complex thought and emotion). Also, I look forward to Kristoff exploring the framework of The Guild in future novels as they're only introduced here and, as a secret sect, offer many possibilities as antagonists in future novels.
All in all, this is an impressive debut and I'm sure that the series will only get better. I'll definitely be on the lookout for book 2.”
“WOW! This book really blew me away. When I spotted it, on a great web-site(http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/), as one of the blurbs on the book said, "I'm afraid I missed everything you said after "japanese steampunk" ". I knew I had to read it, and was fortunate that it had recently arrived on the shelves at my library. This book has a lot going for it. Set in a very well imagined world, ruled by an evil shogun, where the steampunk aspect has almost completely polluted the country, young Yukiko, daughter of the shogun's "Master of the Hunt", is sent with her father on a mission to find, and capture alive an "Arashitora", or "Thunder Tiger". This mythical beast, half eagle, and half tiger, thought to be extinct, was seen by the shogun in his dreams, to be used to finally conquer his enemies. This book, apparently the first of a trilogy, and the first for this author, makes bold promises for his future. This is a very visceral book, with a twisting, turning plot, that rockets you through its pages, leaving you begging for more. I would not be surprised to find it, not only nominated for, but winning awards.”Acur81 wrote this review Saturday, December 22, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“That was one crazy, intense, emotional ride.
I'll admit, it took me a while to get into it at first because there was a lot to take in at once, and the beginning was kind of slow. But as I kept reading on, the book just got better and all of a sudden, I had completely devoured the book!
Next one, please... which comes out next year. Of course :(
“A-freaking-MAZING. Phew, that was one hell of a ride.
This book started out kinda slow, because of the descriptiveness of the writing style, which isn't bad per say, it was just kinda bogging down the book at the start, since not much of anything was happening anyway. During that first 20% of the book, it's basically all world building, and Kristoff does an amazing job at it and even though it did bog down the pace, I still appreciated the amount of detail he put into his world.
The action starts once Yukiko is stranded with Buruu in the wilderness. From then on the book takes you in this journey of self-discovery, pain, love and fighting for what's right, but most of all to learn to see what's truly in front of you and not just follow behind blindly. There was romance, blood, gore, intrigue, betrayal.
It was just pretty awesome once the story got going. When you pick this book up, make sure you read the Glossary in the back FIRST, trust me, it will help out a lot, and it will just make your experience that much better.”