Series: The Lotus War, #1
Author: Jay Kristoff
Published: Thomas Dunne Books, September 2012
Source: received my copy from publisher
Links: [goodreads][amazon.com][The Book Depository]
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 SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
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 I first read the synopsis months ago, I was intrigued by what this book could offer. So, imagine how excited I was when I got approved on Net Galley to read the book before its release date!
Stormdancer offers a very rich and detailed description about the world of Shima, an island nation that was once fertile and roamed with mystical creatures but now verges on the brink of environmental collapse. The current ruler, a greedy man who desires victory, power and lust, is merciless and heartless when it comes to anyone who defies his orders. His only goal is to be the conqueror and his dream is to ride a thunder tiger while being worshiped as the most superior of all humans. Because of his desire, he sends out a crew to hunt for a thunder tiger even though no mystical creatures have been wandering in Shima for over a century. On a land that is heavily polluted with many starving and dying, his priority to hunt is certainly not a welcoming choice.
To be honest, while I was fascinated by all the elaboration being offered, I was also overwhelmed by the vast introduction of everything traditional-Japanese-style-culture-and-custom related. As much as I’d like to appreciate the details, it’s not easy to remember the many Japanese terms while focusing on enjoying the dialogue among the characters. The glossary at the back of the book did help but I must say I felt like my reading experience, especially the first half of the book, was unfortunately compromised.
The story here is filled with enticing plots. As I became accustomed to the meanings of the Japanese vocabulary, I started to relax into the flow of what’s unfolding. The quest to search for the thunder tiger is perilous. Hazardous danger caused by the forces of mother nature is unpredictable. To survive, the crew cannot just rely on technology and machine but also human instincts. Although our protagonist, Yukiko, possesses an ability that is advantageous to enhance her chance of survival, she is not physically the strongest to endure harsh weather conditions. And it is her vulnerability mixing in with her unwavering determination to align with what’s in resonance with her heartfelt passion that brings out the awesome climactic moments of the story.
What shocked me the most is the revelation of what’s being used as fuel for the nation. I’m not going to disclose it here but when I first learned about the disgusting truth, I was utterly dumbfounded. Perhaps because I am never a fan of gruesomeness, my reaction may have been a little overboard but nonetheless, the revelation is not for the faint-of-heart.
Overall, Stormdancer paints an intriguing world filled with peril and crisis, foes and potential allies. I like that it’s new yet primal, a fine balance between what’s barbaric and what’s cultured. My reading experience was a little rocky at the start, but towards the end, the story was so intriguing that I didn’t want to put the book down. Now that I have a taste of the gruesome aspect of the Lotus War, I believe I’ll be more prepared for what could be lying ahead in its sequel. I just wish I wouldn’t have to wait for a whole year before it’s released.