Friday, February 6, 2015

*Book Review* Endsinger by Jay Kristoff

Series: The Lotus War # 3
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Released: November 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 404 pages
Source: Interlibrary Loan
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk

*Book Blurb*

The flames of civil war sweep across the Shima Imperium. With their plans to renew the Kazumitsu dynasty foiled, the Lotus Guild unleash their deadliest creation—a mechanical goliath known as the Earthcrusher, intended to unite the shattered Empire under a yoke of fear. With the Tiger Clan and their puppet Daimyo Hiro in tow, the Guild marches toward a battle for absolute dominion over the Isles.

Yukiko and Buruu are forced to take leadership of the KagĂ© rebellion, gathering new allies and old friends in an effort to unite the country against the chi-mongers. But the ghosts of Buruu’s past stand between them and the army they need, and Kin’s betrayal has destroyed all trust among their allies. When a new foe joins the war tearing the Imperium apart, it will be all the pair can do to muster the strength to fight, let alone win.

The traitor Kin walks the halls of Guild power, his destiny only a bloody knife-stroke away. Hana and Yoshi struggle to find their place in a world now looking to them as heroes. Secret cabals within the Lotus Guild claw and struggle; one toward darkness, the other toward light. And as the earth splits asunder, as armies destroy each other for rule over an empire of lifeless ash and the final secret about blood lotus is revealed, the people of Shima will learn one last, horrifying truth.

There is nothing a mother will not do to keep her children by her side.


*My Thoughts*

"An avalanche starts with one pebble. A forest with one seed. And it takes one word to make the whole world stop and listen. All you need is the right one."

Without spoiling anything, here is what you need to know about Endsinger, the final installment in The Lotus War trilogy. Kristoff nailed the ending like nobody's business! The story is absolutely brutal. Brutal in the cost to human lives. Brutal in Yukiko's emotional turmoil of bringing children into a world that is filled with darkness, betrayal, and the unknown. Brutal in how many people continue to underestimate her, or betray her because they think they know better. Brutal in that you really shouldn't feel sorry when you suddenly feel the need to wipe your eyes. Brutal in the number of sacrifices that are made and who is left standing in the end.

So much happens in Endsinger, that I'm definitely trying to do you all a favor by not spoiling major points. Endsinger reveals some really interesting secrets about the Guild, about Buruu and why he is called Kinslayer, and about Kin who I wanted to see die after reading Kinslayer. Shima is on the brink of an all out war, and Yukiko and Buruu stand on the precipice along with those who truly and 100 percent believe that she is key to winning the war. I was surprised, but not shocked that Kristoff added yet another enemy to the already overflowing number of people standing in Yukiko's way, but it definitely works.

"No victory without sacrifice. No parade without a funeral. No heroes dying in their beds."

I finished reading Endsinger @ 3:15 am Friday morning and I got to tell you that I am still muttering over key points, and how brutal Kristoff really is as a writer. From Yukiko searching for other Arashitora to help win the war, to finding out that Buruu has been keeping secrets from her all this time, to Hana's revelation about her own mother's background, and Kin's surprising actions as well as my favorite pincushion to throw darts at, Hiro.

Endsinger is dark novel, but there are moments of levity where I could not help but laugh like a hyena. I loved the final 2 chapters. So emotional. So many key characters are missing, but those that survived, are truly brothers and sisters who love and stand by each other until their last breath. I will fully admit that I did get a bit emotional at certain times when choices were made. I almost lost it entirely when Tomo has his own scene that just broke my heart to pieces. Thankfully, Kristoff made up for that dagger in the heart.

You should also know that Kristoff doesn't just follow one character to the end. Nope. There are so, so many different character point of views. From Yukiko, Hana, Yoshi, Hiro, Kin etc, that I won't bother naming them all. I did, however, keep a running tab of all the characters that appear in Endsinger, and whether they are still alive, or killed off by the time the ending came around. I really want to thank Kristoff for the Prologue listing the major characters, and what they've been doing since the end of Kinslayer. That really helped in remembering where everything stands.

In the end, I absolutely loved Yukiko, Buruu, Kaiah, and Hana. Yukiko is the kind of character that authors should strive to idolize. She's strong, but makes mistakes. She takes fully responsibility for her mistakes, and is still a badass of epic proportions. She's lost family, friends, and has faced numerous enemies without fleeing for parts unknown with her bestie Buruu. I mean, seriously folks, her abilities alone are so awesome, that it's a wonder anyone can stand up to her. Plus, she's pregnant, and yet doesn't wallow in the mud while everyone else decides how to stop the war, or gather new allies.

Hana really gets her chance to shine in Endsinger and takes full advantage of it. I loved that she's different from others, but nobody treats her that way. I love that Piotr calls her pretty girl, Yukiko calls her sister, and Kaiah, who really doesn't like Buruu all that much, connects to her in nearly the same way that Buruu and Yukiko do. I loved learning more about her heritage, and knowing that she will be perfectly fine when all is said and done.

Overall, Endsinger does what a final novel in a series is supposed to do. It provides fantastic action, amazing world building, emotional scenes with brutal losses, characters that you can love and hate at the same time, and Kristoff's own brand of descriptive story telling. Kristoff's world is savage, ugly, and beautiful. His characters are farther from being perfect but that is fine since nobody would believe they could be after everything they have faced in their lives.

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