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Book Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Here’s another one I read quite some time back and I’ve always intended to re-read.

Stormdancer is a Japanese steampunk epic fantasy. Yeah, you read that right.

The book has one of the most original settings I’ve ever experienced. The world is being overtaken by the Shima (Japanese) war machine. Airships and mechanical armor, chainkatanas, and other wonders, all driven by chi–an extract drawn from the blood lotus. Just as the chi saturates the food they eat, and the lotus weed the people smoke.

The Lotus Guild is an obvious tribe to Dune, where even their signature phrase “The Lotus Must Bloom” echoes the “Spice Must Flow.” Unlike Spice, which has positive effects, however, the lotus chi is polluting the skies, causing cancer, and killing the soil. The Shogun can take over the world at the price of destroying his own homeland.

Enter into this Yukiko, a sixteen year-old girl of yokai (spirit) descent. Most of her kind has been hunted down and killed by the Guild, so she keeps her gift of reading animal minds a secret. At least until the Shogun sends her and her father to capture a legendary thunder tiger (griffin).

The imagery throughout the book is vivid, well-researched, and astounding. Kristoff paints a beautiful and disturbing picture of his world.

And while the imagery and description is one of his strengths, it can be one of his weaknesses, too. Sometimes the book seems to get so lost in painting a picture of its world, the pace slows down. Other times, the author gets somewhat caught up in his description and uses sentences that don’t flow as well as others, or fit perfectly.

Nevertheless, I truly enjoyed reading this book and I’m eager to see the continuing adventures of Yukiko. I’d recommend the book to anyone interested in steampunk or Japanese culture.

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