A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
A HIDDEN GIFT
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.
“WHEN IT IS DONE, WE WILL FLY FAR FROM HERE. FAR FROM THIS SCAB AND ITS POISONED SKY.
WE WILL DANCE IN THE STORMS, YOU AND I.”
Oh, Jay Kristoff why did it take me so long to discover your brilliant work? Now allow me to sing your praises:
“Stormdancer” is an exceptional book, everything about it was just perfect and I feel like it puts every other fantasy book I’ve read to shame! It has everything:
- An absolute kick-ass, diverse heroine!
- An even more kick-ass Thunder Tiger companion!
- A diverse setting that has such wonderful world-building you’ll forget it’s fictional!
- Fantastic, in-depth, detailed, and original mythology!
- A touch of steampunk!
- A fast-paced, action-packed plot full of murder, betrayals, and revenge!
- Also…chainsaw katanas! How can you say no to chainsaw katanas?
Yeah that’s a lot of exclamation points because I’m excited about all of those things, now let me tell you about the awesomeness that is “Stormdancer”.
First off I’d like to mention that it takes a bit of time to fully immerse yourself into this story but trust me when I say it’s worth your time to stick it out! “Stormdancer” starts off a little slow with very descriptive writing, a lot of (confusing) Japanese terminology, and quite a bit of info-dumping. Most of the time the info-dumping would irk me a little bit but the information being given was actually interesting, I wanted to know more and therefore I didn’t mind in the least bit. Fortunately this book does come with a glossary as well so you don’t have to flounder your way through all of the terms (like me), I can honestly say the same words are used over again so once you get the hang of them you won’t need the glossary at all!
So while the beginning takes some patience to get through ( you have to give yourself a feel for the world after all) the pace really starts to pick up once Yukiko encounters the arashitora (about a quarter of the way through) and from there on in it does not slow down at all, I was completely engrossed from that point on.
Remember all of those awesome points I mentioned earlier? Murder, betrayals, revenge? You get all of that and just so much more, Jay Kristoff really knows how to do plot twists! Talk about shock value, I swear my jaw dropped more than once while reading! I was so invested in this story that I was a little raging ball of emotions the entire time, I laughed, I cried, I yelled profanity…but honestly not too many books make me cry and I cried multiple times reading “Stormdancer”. There’s so many things going on and they all mesh together perfectly to make an intense and wonderful story.
One of my favorite parts about “Stormdancer”, though, was the friendship between Yukiko and Buruu (our lovely thunder tiger). It was touching, heartwarming and they also made the most kick-ass team ever, period. I’m a sucker for a good human-to-animal companionship.
I also really loved the fact that Yukiko and Buruu’s friendship was basically the focus for the book, a friendship NOT a romance took center stage. There is a bit of romance but it took a backseat to the other relationships that are depicted, such as Yukiko’s bond with her father and his friends that are essentially Yukiko’s family as well. Gosh, these relationships seriously just made me melt!
Not to mention Kristoff’s writing is insanely wonderful it’s so descriptive and vivid, it painted the picture of Shima and its landscape perfectly. It truly takes great writing like this to make a world so immersive.
Yukiko is probably the single most badass heroine I’ve ever come across. She’s strong, brave, fierce, and determined; I admired her a lot. She’s the kind of character I wish all heroines were like and I find it very rare to find such a wonderful one as Yukiko.
Let’s be honest though, everyone’s favorite character is Buruu (including me). I mean come on he’s a thunder tiger who is both ferocious and snarky and so much more, he’s perfect. His dialogue was my one of my favorite parts about this book!
“ENOUGH NOISE. STAND ASIDE. I WILL GUT HIM.
We can’t kill him like this.
AH. YOU WISH TO LET HIM STARVE, THEN. SLOW DEATH. FITTING.
No, I think we should bring him with us.
Aside from that there is a significant string of great secondary characters as well that had the perfect amounts of depth and development. It’s very crucial to me that minor characters are done well in fantasy books and Kristoff really pulled it off. I know it’s a damn good book when I can feel heartbreak for minor characters as well as a burning, fiery hatred for others(Shogun Yoritomo).
Alas both Yukiko and Buruu are the most perfect characters I have come across in a good long while.
“Stormdancer” is fucking flawless and has absolutely everything I love in a book. I absolutely cannot wait to continue on with this series as well as anything and everything Jay Kristoff writes in the future.
HIGHLY! If you love strong-willed heroines, kick-ass mythological beast companions, great fantasy worlds, and action-packed plots this is the book for you. Also did I mention there are chainsaw katanas? Yeah, you should probably go buy a copy now.