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!

Kinslayer

KinslayerKinslayer (Lotus War Book 2)

By: Jay Kristoff

www.jaykristoff.com   misterkristoff.wordpress.com

(Japanese Steampunk)

432 pages

Jay Kristoff is quickly becoming my favorite author.

When I read Stormdancer, I was most impressed by the world building, but now that I’m quite familiar with Shima, the blood lotus, and the Guild, I had time to notice the writing. What I find so wonderful about it is how effective it is in painting a picture. There is not a wasted metaphor in sight. Imagery and metaphor flow and blend in such a casual way that you don’t notice it by itself, it just makes the scene that much more vivid. The author also utilizes short sentences to create a sense of force and urgency and he does it in just the right places. I’m a fan of short and to-the-point sentences mixed in with fancier writing. It keeps the writing from getting out of hand and distracting from the story.

As for the story, things get more complex. Good and evil is not as black and white as it was in the first book. Some of the Kage are blinded by hatred and vengeance, rather than being the noble revolutionaries they were at first glance. Saving the world from itself is messy. Things are a lot harder on Yukiko this time around and she has to dig deep to figure out exactly what she’s doing and why she’s doing it. You can’t just start a revolution and fly off on your thunder tiger and be a hero.

The character complexity was really good here. People make choices I wouldn’t have expected, but after thinking about what they’ve been through, it makes sense in the end. I want characters to behave unpredictably so I can think about why later. It’s not just the time reading the words on the page, but the time in-between reading, thinking about what I have read, that I enjoy so much.

I won’t give much away here but…GAIJIN! Yes, we finally catch a glimpse of the round-eyed barbarians and their own brand of steampunk technology, which is pretty awesome.

This series so far is amazing and I can’t wait to find out how it all ends in book 3, Endsinger. 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!