Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review - Stormdancer

Hey all, Counterfett here. Judging from this post following right on the heels of 'Lord of Mountains' from yesterday, you can likely tell that this one went a lot more smoothly for me. If you thought that, you would be correct. I found this a few weeks ago, but didn't get it right away because of one thing; it says 'Book one of the Lotus Wars,' and I was worried about getting all into a series and not having the next book come out for a long time. Well, last friday, I saw that book two, 'Kinslayer,' was already out, so I decided to take the plunge.

Now, Stormdancer is the story of Yukiko, a young girl in a facsimile of shogunate Japan, but where steampunk automata are driven by fuel derived from something called a Blood Lotus. Blood Lotus usage, however, is killing the land and everyone in it.Yukiko, her father the Huntsmaster, and gang, are sent off to pursue an 'Arashitora,' more commonly known to fantasy gamers as a griffin. The story takes some pretty decent turns, however, and nothing ends up quite the way you thought it would be. In a good way, for a change.

  • Characters! Really, from Yukiko, to the Shogun's sister, to rebels hiding in the hills, to the Guildsmen, there are sympathetic heroes, dire villians, and everything in between. And often, many of these characters wind up being not everything you would expect. And sometimes, they are exactly what they say...
  • Plot twists. I'm not a fan of twist endings simply for the sake of twist endings, but Stormdancer has some simply amazing turnabouts and betrayals. Nuff said.
  • Steampunk as setting, not focus. The steampunk genre has been fairly overdone of late. It's gotten to the point where I don't even aqpprove, as a general rule, and I was a pretty early fan. Stormdancer is set in a dystopian steampunk world, but that setting is never what drives the story, except insomuch as the oncoming environmental collapse provides a call to action. Stormdancer is about Yukiko and friends, not Blood Lotus.
  • Body count. There's a hefty one. While it's well done in this instance, and doesn't make me want to not read the next installment, there is a feeling at the end of the book that you spent an awful lot of time remembering some of these people's names.
  • Confusing names. While not as impenetrable as some anime I have seen of late, there can be a bit of confusion with titles versus names. The Shogun, The head of the Lotus Guild, and Kin the artificer, in particular, have a number of interchangable names and titles that make it sometimes difficult to understand who is being addressed.
And that's it for the cons, really. I had to stretch a bit to even get that much. Stormdancer is a fun read, and surprisingly involving. This is a somewhat incomplete review, as I don't want to spoil some of the interesting twists and interactions, particularly between Yukiko and the Arashitora, but you should get the gist. It's a good book. You should read it.

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