Author: Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Tor UK
Publication date: September 13th 2012.
My rating: 4.5 stars
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.
I think this is one of the most toughest reviews I’ve recently had to write, so please excuse me if this review seems a little incoherent as since I’ve finished Stormdancer all I’ve wanted to do is run around flailing my arms in the air. I honestly had no idea that Stormdancer would be this good. Yes I saw several 5 star reviews filtering in before I picked it up, but recently I’ve been disappointed by so many reads when my expectations were too high, so I decided to go into this not expecting too much just in case.
But honestly Stormdancer just blew me away! Yukiko and her father Masaru have been ordered by the Shogun Yoritomo-no-miya on what Yukiko thinks it’s a wild goose chase to locate the mythical creature Arashitora. These creatures are supposedly extinct and so Yukiko knows they are going on a pointless mission. But Masaru is obliged to do as the Shogun says as he has the power to take everything he loves away from him, even his own life. So going into something she didn’t want to in the first place, Yukiko ends up in an even precarious situation, with their ship capsizing with everyone on board she ends up stuck on an island somewhere alone with the thunder tiger.
This book was highly addictive from the first few pages, the pacing was just incredible, there was always something that kept you on your toes, you’d think everything would die down as one situation had cleared up but then you’d find yourself smack bang in the middle of another one. The world building was crazy, from arashitora’s (part eagle, part tiger creatures) to oni’s (demon of yomi underworld) and then there were super tense moments which left me totally slack jawed. Kristoff’s writing is simply flawless, I could go on and on about how his descriptions were so detailed (some may be put off by this and find it too detailed) but I was totally mesmerised. They provided such vivid detail and breathtakingly beautiful imagery, I felt as if I was right there with Yukiko experiencing everything first hand.
The central character Yukiko certainly made reading Stormdancer a worthwhile experience for me. She was brave, fearless, intelligent and so many things that I could never be if I found myself in similar situations. Several other characters also left great impressions on me; Buruu and Kin, I hope we get to delve much deeper into these characters in the next book especially with Kin.
I know if I keep prattling about the plot and characters this review will probably turn into a full blown novella and I will give the entire plot away. I know my review will fall way short of being able to describe just how much of an epic masterpiece this book is. All I can suggest is that you pick up this book as soon as possible (please so that I can gush about it some more). Also these awesome reviews will hopefully also give you the extra encouragement to do so!