Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff – ARC Book Review
Kinslayer is Jay Kristoff’s latest installment in his Lotus War series. The story picks up not long after the end of Stormdancer, Shogun Yoritomo is dead at the hands of our hero Yukiko, the empire is in turmoil as to who will be the successor, and the Kage still lurk in the shadows – intent on toppling the regime of the Guild.
Stormdancer set the stage for Yukiko to become a Stormdancer, a hero out of legend that works in tandem with an arashitora, a tiger/eagle hybrid that commands thunder and the skies with fearsome pride. Kinslayer delivers those promises in spades, as Yukiko is raised to celebrity status amongst the citizens from her travels across the empire and speeches to the lowborn and commoners to rise above the fist of the Guild and the old regime and begin life anew.
Everything isn’t perfect for Yukiko however, as the Kenning, the ability that allows her to communicate telepathically with animals, has grown to dangerous levels. She can’t hear Buruu, her arashitora partner, without intense migraines and blood dripping from her nose and ears. To that end they set off to the North, on the hunt for a mysterious order that may provide answers. But they find more than they bargained for in foreign waters.
Kin, the young Guildsman who ran away from the order, returns to the Kage and pledges himself to the cause. Joining him is Ayane, a female Guildsmember with a hub of metallic spider legs implanted against her spine. The two former Guildsmembers face distrust and oftentimes violence against the prejudiced Kage. No one in the Kage are willing to look past Kin and Ayane’s former lives and see their true intentions.
Kin’s sections were the most compelling as the reader is forced to watch Kin and Ayane endure punishment after punishment. It’s an interesting examination of what lengths someone is willing to endure to help a just and righteous cause. At what point is it too much to bear?
Along with Yukiko and Kin we’re introduced to three new characters: Yoshi, Jurou, and Hana. Three lowborn in Kigen City that struggle with their station in life after Yukiko upset the balance and established order.
Yoshi and Jurou are lovers and work together; with the help of Yoritomo’s ironthrower (handgun) they recovered after his death and Yoshi’s Kenning, to rob members of the Yakuza. With their stolen cash they plan on leaving the city and living the life they think they deserve with Yohsi’s sister Hana.
Hana, meanwhile, has already volunteered to join the city cell of the Kage. She’s busy using her job as a chamber pot maid at the palace to keep tabs on Aisha, the late Shogun’s sister and only surviving link to the imperial bloodline, and Michi, one of Aisha’s maidservants and secret member of the Kage held prisoner in the palace.
We’re also given brief passages concerning Hiro, the green-eyed samurai who was lover and betrayer to Yukiko. The Guild has raised him above his station to be the next Shogun and have pledged their full support and might behind him.
This book delivers on all of the promises made from Stormdancer. We get a better understanding of the world, and culture, outside of the Shima Islands. We watch society slowly crumble as the Kage seek to end the Guild while Hiro and the Guild do everything to clench to the fading powerbase.
Anyone who follows Jay’s blog or his twitter is well aware of his unique brand of humor and some of my favorite sections are where this humor was allowed to shine through,while still remaining faithful to the world. It’s a wonderful breath of fresh air and had me pause my reading to enjoy the change in tone a simple line or paragraph would bring.
Kinslayer will be released on September 17, 2013, which gives everyone who hasn’t had the chance to read Stormdancer yet plenty of time to get caught up. A wonderful blend of steampunk, in a Japanese setting, with mythic creatures should be enough to catch everyone’s interest.
Kinslayer is Book Two in Jay Kristoff’s critically acclaimed Lotus War series that began with Stormdancer, featuring an unforgettable heroine and a stunningly original Japanese dystopian steampunk world
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 toxic blood lotus flower continues to ravage the land, the deadlands splitting wider by the day. The machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild conspire 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.