Japan is a country that many in the west have some type of fascination with. It could be from the technology they unleash on the world, the animation, the cars, but to many it’s the Samurai and the Feudal past of the country. The images of men in heavy armor decorated with dragons, flowers and holding the Katana that will get a person’s attention.
Author Jay Kristoff takes some of the best of that Feudal period and places it in a steampunk world. A world with large airships, men incased in hard armor and powerful tools all running on a lotus type of plant. A plant that just doesn’t run the weapons of war but may also be changing the world around it. You see that plant must be grown but the fields used will die after a few seasons and the exhaust it creates is just as harmful to man and woman a like.
This is the world the reader will find in the book Stormdancer by author Jay Kristoff. The book will introduce the reader to a young girl, of about 16, who accompanies her father on a task ordered by the shogun. The task to find a mythical creature that does not just fly through the air but can bring lighting. A creature many will call a griffin, and for some will find out that this creature is not so mythical. It is however just as deadly as feared.
Kristoff shapes his world masterfully, as he uses his words to paint a broad picture that will formulate in the mind. Skies no longer blue due to the plants burned to give the massive airships their propulsion. You will read about the beggars on the street and the feudal soldiers of the Shogun and their weaponry described in great detail, along with the people found within the pages of the book.
Yukiko is that 16 year old girl and she is not just her father’s daughter, but as the book will show in away his caretaker. The first introduction to her father will make you wonder about the man but as the book progresses you learn so much more about him, and Yukiko. Their arguments will lead to deep understanding and a father’s love will be shown. The one thing Yukiko has that she has yet to really discover is a gift that will aid her when she comes across Buruu, the griffin. Buruu the creature her father is ordered to capture after rumors of one being alive reaches the shoguns ears.
Stormdancer will show how Yukiko forms a unique bond with Buruu and how the two will become intertwined with not just each other but the politics of the country. They will each grow to have much hatred for Shogun Yoritomo and both for the right reasons. The book will give the reader not just a unique world but a great story. The book is a story of survival in a world that is slowly dying and needs a spark to unite the people, and shake the status of power from the Shogun on down.
As the reader follows the story Kristoff will continue to introduce some great characters. There are none that are just comic relief, or there for no reason, they all have a part to play. The way the story unfolds and how young Yukiko is thrust into situation after situation, and must survive each shows this young girl to be wiser than her age. Her life may not have been easy to the point we meet her in the book and it will not get any easier. There are Oni, Demons, that will come into play and she will find that even those she may care may not feel the same.
Jay Kristoff does a great job of bringing these different worlds of steampunk and feudal Japan together in the pages of Stormdancer. The book is the beginning as it is part one of the Lotus War series and if the story continues as well as this first offering it should be a great series to read.