Title: Stormdancer (Lotus Wars #1)
Author: Jay Kristoff
Yukiko is a girl of the Fox clan, and she has a gift that, if discovered, would get her killed by the Lotus Guild. The Shogun orders her father to capture a thunder tiger – an legendary half-tiger, half-eagle – and she accompanies him on the quest. The only problem is, thunder tigers are extinct. But then Yukiko finds herself stranded with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. She saved its life, and she can read its thoughts, but it would rather see her dead than help her.
This is the first steampunk novel I’ve ever read. And if Stormdancer is typical of the genre, I love it.
Yukiko was the kind of kick-butt heroine I love. She was good with a knife and didn’t take guff from anyone, but she also had a softer, more caring side. She was smart and occasionally stubborn, and had a tendency to get angry easily (Buruu’s influence, perhaps?) – in short, she was a fantastic character.
Buruu, the thunder tiger, was an interesting character. He was violent and angry at first – exactly what I’d expect out of a wild beast – but I loved watching Yukiko’s patience win him over. And the battle scenes where he and Yukiko worked together…pure awesomeness.
Stormdancer seemed to have three main plots. First, it was find a thunder tiger, which everyone knows is extinct. Then, it was convince said thunder tiger to help her. And finally, it was take down the shogun. And I loved it. It was one part epic battle action, one part fascinating courtly intrigue, and two parts indomitable friendship between girl and thunder tiger. And it was fantastic.
I only had a couple itty-bitty problems with the book. One was with character relationships. Akihito and Kasumi are mentioned really early on in the book, but it wasn’t until over halfway through that I figured out how Yukiko and Kasumi are related. And I’m still not quite sure where Akihito fit into the family.
The other problem was the romance element. For the most part, it seemed to be there for the sake of having it. And I got a little annoyed that Yukiko fell for the green-eyed samurai, who, as best as I can figure, has only his green eyes going for him.
Other than that, though, I loved the book. I loved the story’s Asian flair (even when I struggled to sound out words), and I absolutely loved the friendship between Yukiko and Buruu. This was a totally amazing book.
I didn’t realize this when I picked it up, but Stormdancer is the first book in the Lotus War series. Unfortunately, the second book, Kinslayer, doesn’t come out until September.