A SHATTERED EMPIRE
The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The Lotus Guild conspires to renew the nation’s broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously – by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.
A DARK LEGACY
Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin, the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets, and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized.
A GATHERING STORM
Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins. A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no katana or talon can defeat.
The ghosts of a blood-stained past
When we last left Sixteen year old Yukiko (Arashi-no-Odoriko), she had just killed Shōgun Yoritomo, watched her father die, saw her so called lover Hiro betray her, try to kill her, and was presumably left to die by her own hands.
This time our, Yukiko is the guiding force of the Kage rebellion. She's tried to urge the citizens of Shima to join the rebellion against the Lotus Guild who have their meaty little paws into everything.They rely on her, they rally around her, and she in turn destroys anything that threatens the rebellion headquarters. She is also having a bit of difficulty with her keening powers (the ability to speak with animals) and her anger hasn't lessened all that much since losing her father, and being betrayed by Hiro.
Yukiko, along with Buruu who has become her one true friend and guide throughout this series, travels to another locale to find answers to her abilities, and instead, they end up in a whole lot of kimchee. I will say that the dynamics between Yukiko and Buruu grow stronger than siblings. The do have some ups and downs, but who doesn't? Yukiko has an interesting future ahead of her after a starting revelation. I was absolutely shocked when Kristoff's surprise popped up. I absolutely did not see that coming.
*Note* I truly believe we haven't dug beneath the surface into Buruu's past yet, and why he is called Kinslayer. Should be enlightening to find out what actually happened before he met Yukiko. It will also be surprising to learn his relationship with other arashitora.
I will not discuss Kin any more than I actually have to. I realize he was the main reason that Yukiko survived in Stormdancer. I realize that he feels like the black sheep of the family, most times. I realize that he has his heart set on Yukiko becoming something more than friends. I just can't agree with his actions when all is said and done. It was like, what was the point of even bothering to save Yukiko just to turn around and do what you did? Yeah, Kin definitely needs to be beheaded and stuck on a pole.
Kristoff is one of those writers who leaves absolutely nothing to chance. Kinslayer is dark, bloody, action packed, and fast paced which allowed me to read without worrying about interruptions, or missing something. Normally, I feel let down by second books in a series, but this time out, that isn't even on the table.
There are so many characters that are given a chance to shine, or disappoint, or offer betrayal in one particular heart breaking case. One of my favorite characters has to be Hana, nicknamed No One, who apparently is 1/2 gaijin, and voluntarily joined the rebellion while her brother was out losing his blasted mind. I loved Hana's spunk, and determination. I love that she isn't a weeping willow, but one that can ultimately handle herself. I loved that she has some of the same abilities as Yukiko (the ability to speak with animals).
Kage Michi, the rebellions swordmaster, and Lady Aisha maid in waiting who befriended Yukiko, also makes her presence felt. I absolutely loved when the spotlight was shined on her, and she kicked some serious Guild ass while attempting to stop a wedding that would change everything for Shima. I also felt her emotions when she has to make a difficult choices, or face further isolation in jail.
One of the things that Kristoff does well, in my opinion, is portray a world that is dangerous, and dark, and people struggle every day just to feed themselves and their families. It is an alternative Japan where steampunk and flying dirigibles cover the skies, and the nation is still at war after 20 years with the gaijin. The oppression is thick, the use of interesting ingredients to make the Lotus bloom is sickening, and yes, unfortunately, there were several acts of rape that really make me mad as a honey bee.
My reasoning for my overall rating is that I am a Yukiko fan. I need more of Yukiko and when I am faced with a plethora of POV's, I get grumpy, and irritable. I also dislike, with a major passion, any forms of rape. Sometimes I do understand why it's there, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I will say this, the first part of the book, OK, the last part of this book, fanfreakingtastic.
By the way, I do not have any hopes that ANY of these characters will survive Kristoff's brutality. I think he stays up late at night and laughs maniacally knowing that readers will be losing their damn minds when all is said and done.
Author - Jay Kristoff
Title - Kinslayer (The Lotus War # 2)
Published by Thomas Dunne Books
Released - September 17, 2013
Genre - Japanese Steampunk
Format - Hardcover 432 pages