Endsinger

EndsingerEndsinger (The Lotus War Book 3)
by: Jay Kristoff

(Japanese Steampunk)

412 pages [Hardcover]

The lotus war comes to a climax as forces human, machine, feathered, and underworldly collide with devastating consequences, all with Shima’s fate hanging precariously in the balance.

The Lotus War is at an end now that I’ve finally finished Endsinger. This book sat on my shelf for far too long. There are things I love about this series and some things that made me a little reluctant to read it. Let’s start with the good things.

The worldbuilding was great with airships, chainsaw katana, griffons, lightning farms, the destructive blood lotus, a creation myth, demons…I could go on for a while. The plot was interesting, involving twists and turns I didn’t expect and the Lotus Guild’s true motives were quite sinister indeed. It’s written well, the characters are realistic with a dash of bravado and dark humor, and I loved Yukiko’s relationship with Buruu. All things Japanese and Steampunk were awesome.

So if this story was so awesome, why did I always have a tendency to put off picking up the book, only to put it down again not long after? It comes down to one simple thing: loss. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I was about halfway through Endsinger. I was so distracted by the worldbuilding and action that it didn’t occur to me just how much these characters lose. I understand that when you’re in the middle of a bloody revolution that there is going to be some loss, but each character in this story loses so much. Some characters had already lost several people in their lives before the fighting even began. I think this series had the highest body count of everything I’ve read so far. The heaviness that all that loss created made me hesitate to read where I should have been completely absorbed.

Don’t get me wrong, the whole series wasn’t horribly depressing. There were lots of wonderfully positive moments mixed in that had me smiling or cheering on the inside, but it wasn’t enough to completely balance it.

As for Endsinger, the loss really piles up. Not only do we lose characters, but we are constantly reminded of it. Remarkably, though, the ending is rather hopeful, and no one left is truly abandoned. That last page made me very happy. With all of this, I have mixed feelings about the series. If you asked me, I’d say I loved it, I just didn’t always want to read it. Until next time…

Happy Reading!
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The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

The Watchmaker of Filigree StreetThe Watchmaker of Filigree Street
by: Natasha Pulley

(Steampunk/Victorian)

318 pages [Hardcover]

Six months after a gold pocket watch finds its way into Thaniel Steepleton’s possession, it saves his life, leading him to the enigmatic watchmaker Keita Mori.

Victorian, Steampunk, Japanese, and an amazing cover…this was a book I could not resist when I happened upon it at my local library, even though I already had enough to read at the time. Given the subject matter I loved the first half, but then…

First, let me start out with what I loved about the story before I start complaining. The clockwork is amazing! It was everything I could have wanted in a steampunk story. Often it seems the larger steam-powered inventions get all the attention, but here, the delicate clockwork got to shine. Katsu was probably my favorite thing about the story, but I can’t tell you much about him without ruining his awesomeness. Just trust me. I also really enjoyed the use of scientific theories of the time. I don’t love steampunk just for the gadgets and awesome costume opportunities, but for the way people thought in Victorian times. Sure, there were plenty of short-sighted ideas at the time, and boundless sexism, but when it came to science and discovery the Victorians seemed to be more open-minded in their attitudes toward discovery and thinking outside the box. There was so much that was unknown and so much progress, in a short time, that anything could be possible. I wish we felt more like that today. In a lot of ways, I think we’ve decided that we already know everything worth knowing. Where are the inventors and the mad scientists to keep us on our toes?

Now for what I didn’t love so much. The story began to get a little odd and melancholy for the last third of the book or so. Thaniel’s relationship with Mori seemed a little off, especially considering how events might have been manipulated by Mori himself. I felt like I couldn’t trust him. He seemed likable enough on the outside, quiet and unassuming, but something about him bothered me after a while. He even came across as a little possessive. I just didn’t like how that all played out. While the ending of the story mostly made up for these things, I couldn’t really warm up to Mori. I’m not sure if that was intentional on the author’s part or not.

Ultimately, I got my hopes up with this one, and it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Awesome steampunk cover art will do that to a person…or me anyway. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Stormdancer

StormdancerStormdancer

By: Jay Kristoff

www.jaykristoff.com   misterkristoff.wordpress.com

(Japanese Steampunk!)

324 pages

You had me at Japanese Steampunk…

It’s not often that my two favorite things collide in one neat little package like this, so I was determined to love this book no matter what. I was not disappointed. This book is awesome!

Now, I have a hard time reviewing the books I love, because I get all excited, and spew out random things, and become completely incapable of organizing my thoughts. Really, I just want to write I LOVED IT!, and leave it at that, but I’ll do my best to tell you why I loved it.

I love Japan, I love Steampunk, and this book did justice to both. This story is not feudal Japan with a few Steampunk gadgets thrown in. It’s an entirely original Steampunk world based on both modern and historical Japan, with a wonderful sprinkling of Japanese words and concepts throughout. This was fun for me, because I know a little Japanese, but if you don’t, there’s a very thorough glossary at the back…which I didn’t actually notice until I had finished the book. I’m a genius.

On the Steampunk side of things you have a wonderfully corrupt government, nifty technology (airships included), and a broken down world with a serious environmental problem. The blood lotus is brilliant, creating everything from an opium-like drug, to a fuel that pollutes the sky, all while destroying the very land it grows upon. I also liked the idea of this Japanesque country invading and conquering its neighbors on a grand scale, all in the name of growing more lotus.

Throw in an angry arashitora (which is essentially a griffon) and an amazing mythology, with demons and everything, and there’s no way I couldn’t love this book. But what I really loved the most was the arashitora and his relationship with Yukiko, who can communicate with him, a gift that she could be burned at the stake for. I really just loved his personality, and their bond is truly beautiful.

I could gush about its brilliance forever, but I think it’s best if I stop here, before I go recounting the entire tale. Thankfully, there will be sequels, and I can’t wait for them to come out. Kinslayer, the next installment of this trilogy, should be out sometime in September and I’m sure it’ll be just as great. Until next time…

Happy Reading!