Thursday, October 3, 2013

Book Review - Kinslayer

Hey all, Counterfett here. I did finish Kinslayer, the sequel to Stormdancer, over the weekend. I am still on the downramp from all the stress from last week, just getting to the point where I can sleep and have happy thoughts again. So back to telling you all about it, right?

In any event, Kinslayer is the continuing adventures of Yukiko and her Gryphon Buruu (I refuse to type Arashitora repeatedly). Riding the wave of momentum she had generated by slaying the Shogun, Yukiko and the Kage rebels begin a systematic campaign to free the land from the oppression of the Daimyo (the four clan leaders) and the Lotus Guild, which is not so slowly killing all life on earth.

  • The Gang's all here! Most of the major characters that survived the first book make a comeback, and are, by and large, as great as the first time. This includes a few characters that were presumed killed or out of the story. Not going to drop the spoil-bomb here, but some of the unexpected survivors are pretty game changing.
  • New Blood. Also making an appearance are some new characters. One of them, Hana, an eye patch wearing, clanless, gun-toting Yokai-kin, is one of the best characters in the series thus far (selon moi).
  • Scope. While the first book was relatively focused, almost exclusively following Yukiko and Buruu, Kinslayer expands the perspective a bit.
  • Too Big. Remember how I said the bigger scope was a good thing? Well, it mostly is, but on the flip side of the coin, Kinslayer changes gears a little too often. Just as you get into whatever Akahito and Hana are up to, you jump to Kin. Just when Kin starts doing something interesting it jumps to Misha. Then to Yukiko. You get the idea.
  • Out Of Character. Kin was my favorite character from the first book. He was portrayed as this capable but insecure romantic, shut away in his power armor but dying to experience the world and human interaction. In Kinslayer, despite giving voice to the same goals, he seems to make a 180 in terms of character growth. And not in an interesting, journey of self discovery way either.
  • Gross. I realize it's done as a plot point, and to an extent is a trope of the genre, but a lot of the story having to do with the guild is just unpleasant. Especially the False-lifers. Also, the description of a character on guild life support is unsettling. It's supposed to be, I guess, but sometime s a little can go a long way, and Kinslayer doesn't have a little.
Now, I feel a bit guilty hitting this as hard as I did. Don't get the wrong idea, it's still a good book. The thing that bugs me is that the material for it to have been much better was present. Also, coming off of Stormdancer, which was simply phenomenal, my expectations were very high. Usually, in a series like this, the second book is better than the first, as the premiere installment has to build the setting. And while Kinslayer was in fact quite good, it wasn't the hoped for 'stepping up' from Stormdancer.


Magos Kasen said...

Nice review, this series looks interesting so I might try and track it down.

CounterFett said...

Yeah it's really a fun series. I feel like I was a little Harsh on Kinslayer, which was good, but should have been better.