Author: Jay Kristoff
Series: The Lotus War (Book 1)
Publication: Thomas Dunne Books; 18 edition (September 18, 2012)
Description: Stormdancer is the first in the epic new fantasy series The Lotus War, introducing an unforgettable heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan
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. When hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shogun to capture a legendary griffin, they fear their lives are over. Any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shogun is death. Accompanying her father on the Shogun's hunt, the girl Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin 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.
My Thoughts: STORMDANCER was an amazing steampunk fantasy set in an alternate world Japan. It is a land controlled by a despot Shogun. Our heroine is Kitsuna Yukiko. Her father is the hunter for the Shogun. The Shogun commands her father to find the legendary arashitora - storm tiger - because he has seen himself riding it in a vision wherein her finally defeats the gaijin armies.
Yukiko's father does not believe that there are any living arashitora but can't refuse to do the Shogun's bidding or he will be killed. When the find one, capture it, and clip its wings, they plan to bring it back to the Shogun but the storm ruins the air ship. Yukiko has the ability to talk to animals which happens to be an ability that will get her burned at the stake if Guildmen find out about it. When the ship goes down, she stays aboard to let the storm tiger out of its cage. They manage to fly down to the ground but are separated from the rest of their party.
Journeying together help Yukiko and the storm tiger she names Buruu have to band together to survive. They also become friends. When they run into rebels against the shogunate, Yukiko decides that she will assassinate the shogun to get revenge for all that he has cost her. She finds that there is a substantial underground of rebels who will help her.
This was an interesting story partially because of the Japanese setting but also because of the worldbuilding. The country is in danger of polluting itself to death because of the dependence on the blood lotus crop. While the blood lotus provides everything from medicine, to drugs, to fuels for the technology, it also kills the land where it grows requiring more and more land being devoted to its cultivation. Its processing pollutes the air and the water and causes cancers. People who can afford it wear sophisticated goggles and breathing equipment. The poor wear cloth masks and die of lung cancers.
The rebels want to stop the production of the blood lotus. Buruu also wants to get rid of the blood lotus. He wouldn't really mind if all the humans were eleminated too. At least, he felt that way until he fell in love with Yukiko.
This story is epic fantasy and begins a three book series.
THEY WILL WIN. THOUGH IT TAKE A HUNDRED YEARS, THEY WILL TIPPLE YOUR SHOGUN. BURN HIS FIELDS AND CITIES. FADE AWAY INTO SHADOW. INTO PLACE HIS ARMIES CANNOT REACH. MORE THAN FLESH. THEY ARE AN IDEA.I bought this one December 28, 2012. You can buy your copy here.