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On September 14, 2012, I was lucky enough to be included on the blog tour stop for Jay Kristoff's highly-anticipated debut novel STORMDANCER. Today, I am honored to help celebrate the upcoming release of the trilogy's finale ENDSINGER on another fantastic tour!
If you'd like a full review of the first book in the trilogy, STORMDANCER, please check out my original post.
Today, I'm going to be talking about the trilogy as a whole--SPOILER FREE!
(It's just too hard to review final books on their own without crazy amounts of spoilers!)
The world of The Lotus War Trilogy is vast and complex. Set in Japan and surrounded with steampunk technology, author Jay Kristoff portrays a pollution-clogged, dying world. The Lotus Guild has grown corrupt, and the people are suffering. An unassuming girl named Yukiko is called upon by her Shōgun alongside her father to go on a fool's errand and bring him a pet arashitora, or "thunder tiger" (what Westerns might call a griffin). The only problem with hunting mythical, imaginary creatures? They don't exist. Until the day they do. Yukiko is in awe to stumble upon an arashitora in a storm and realize that its existence is genuine. Thanks to the Kenning, she's able to meld minds and speak with the arashitora, whom she names Buruu. She realizes that she can never give the Shōgun his "prize." By defying him, Yukiko will turn her entire world upside down, and the fallout will be catastrophic.
Yukiko is the catalyst that begins a civil war. Japan is burning, and the Lotus Guild seize the chance to take control. Yukiko is the face of the rebellion, the Stormdancer, the girl who rides in on an arashitora. She is the source of revenge, and the Lotus Guild seeks to destroy her. While Yukiko knows that bringing down the Lotus Guild will destroy the foundation of civilization around her, she also knows that they can rebuild a safer world. If the Lotus Guild isn't destroyed, humanity will soon be wiped out completely.
When I heard there was a fantasy novel on the horizon with a Japanese flair, I immediately wanted to read it. Having lived in Japan for two years, I still have fond memories of the country and its rich history. I'm new to the steampunk genre, but always willing to try something new, so when I heard that not only was Jay Kristoff's STORMDANCER going to be Japanese, but Japanese steampunk, I was even more intrigued.
The Lotus War Trilogy blends mythology and Japanese lore into existence, creating a full world that feels real. It is a dark, grim reality, and no character is safe. None is a shining example of perfection, either. Everyone is flawed, even Yukiko. By the third book, I was even emphasizing with villainous characters in some ways, just because I could see into their heads and understand. Kristoff uses third person and switches seamlessly between characters and scenarios to take a look at all aspects of the world and fleshing out characters that would otherwise read as flat villains/heroes/etc. if seen through one POV. Instead of believing what one character believes about another, readers are introduced to many, and able to form their own opinions. While, at times, it can be overwhelming to recall who a character is or how s/he will later play into the story, its' also highly appreciated. Some perspectives captured my attention more than others, and I was always so glad to see their return, such as Hana, whom we first meet in the middle novel KINSLAYER.
And, on a sidenote, it's a little easier to remember who's who due to the fact that this beauty is at the forefront of both KINSLAYER and ENDSINGER:
Both novels open with a few pages reminding readers of who's who. It's great as both a refresher for those not reading the books back-to-back as well as a reminder as you're actively reading each book if you forgot about a character and want to remember more about them after encountering him/her on the page!
One thing I like best about this series is the fact that it features a strong female heroine. There aren't nearly enough female role models in strong fantasy series such as this one. Most of the dark, gritty, war-torn, sprawling fantasies put the weight of the world on a male's shoulders. The choice to center the series around Yukiko is even more of a stark contrast when taking the setting Japan into consideration. Last week, the World Economic Forum's gender equality rankings for 2014 were announced. Japan came in 104th. Japanese society is still dominated by men and women aren't encouraged to be at the forefront of a rebellion. To center everything around Yukiko is brave, and shows that this is one female made of steel, able to stand against anyone who would bring her down and show that females are just as capable as males.
If you're the type of person who won't read a series until it's complete, you're in luck, because the final book in The Lotus War Trilogy, ENDSINGER, releases at the end of November. If you're a fan of all things Japanese, or of steampunk, or of sprawling fantasy, this is one series worth looking into. While the intense attention to detail won't be for everyone, for those willing to invest the time, it makes for a fuller, more fleshed out journey unlike anything else I've read before.
Enter to win...
a hardcover copy of ENDSINGER!
a hardcover copy of ENDSINGER!
You must be at least 13 years old to enter or have a parent's permission!
(Though I wouldn't recommend reading this until you were at least 15/16+ because it can be pretty graphic!)