The first in an epic new fantasy series, introducing an unforgettable new heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan.
A Dying Land
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. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
An Impossible Quest
The hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shogun to capture a thunder tiger - a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shogun is death.
A Hidden Gift
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shogun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger 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.
©2012 Jay Kristoff (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I read this book in print before buying the audio version, and enjoyed it immensely. Granted, it's not perfect, as it is the author's first book, but it was entertaining. Yes, the story does start to drag a bit about 3/4 of the way through, but not so much that I lost interest. Yes, the author does borrow elements from Chinese culture, not just Japanese. Yes, the author does perhaps use elements of the language incorrectly. But remember that this is a fantasy story, and as such does not need to be grounded in reality.
Jennifer Ikeda does an excellent job of the narration. At first, I was a bit concerned about her not being able to differentiate between characters well, but manages that well as I was never confused about who was speaking. She conveys their emotions just as well, and I think she is the perfect voice for Yukiko.
Overall, it's not perfect. But it was definitely worth the listen. It kept me absorbed and entertained, and I look forward to Book Two.
I think you should buy it and give it a chance.
Interesting world setting.
The beginning was excessively slow do to the over abundance of description.
Great Narrator. I would highly recommend her for future listeners.
The conflict between the Father and Daughter was particularly well done.
I've been away for a couple months due to a VERY hectic travel schedule, but I'm back to do a number of reviews, and I'll begin here.
Whenever a good writer, both new or seasoned, takes up the challenging task of creating a genre'-bending scifi and quasi-fantasy novel or series, and does so successfully, it's a beauty to behold. But, it CAN also be a MESS. We're talking dangerous waters. Slippery slopes. Career-ruining mistakes. We've all read and listened to such disasters.
Not worries here. This is a great listen, and it's not only designed well, it's WRITTEN well. Be prepared to be absorbed in this enjoyable listen, and overlook the minor errors to get the most out of the experience.
It's often so easy to look at an audiobook cover, title or brief description, and write off the author and his or her work as a "typical genre'" read/listen. BE CAREFUL. You do that here, and you've missed out. Kristoff offers great prose, solid character creation, excellent fight scenes (I will NOT say much on this to give anything away, except that the sky battles are astounding!), and very successful delivery of steampunk with strong eastern influence. It's a sweet refreshing mix, unlike the tirade of Steampunk writing that is so landlocked within it's own genre'.
As to the narrator, meh. Good, but not a Roy D. Some may not agree with this, but that's fine. I expect GREAT narration to enhance my experience. There are other better female and male choice I would have chosen, but the narrator didn't detract from the story.
If you've followed any of my previous reviews, I offer no spoilers, no elaborate details, no free reads on plots. Am I being intentionally vague? You BET. Doing differently only takes away from the initial listening experience. Let's get over that, and move along,
Keep in mind, dear Audible listener, that book listening is very much like a having a meal on the town: You can go where you usually go, and choose a meal of which you're comfortable. You get what you expect. Ho hum.
You can reach out a bit, and try that Oriental place around the corner that you didn't know was there. It may not have the glossy front or the valet parking you're used to, but you can discover a great cuisine that you'd never enjoyed if you'd not taken the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone. You expand your culinary tastes, and are better for it. And suddenly, a whole new world opens up to you. Steampunk is a fantastic genre' IF written with an original style and storyline, and that definitely happens here.
This audiobook will surprise you, take you on a new journey, and possibly expand your listening taste for the unusual and surprising.
I look forward to more from this author, and will definitely make the choice to listen to his next in the series!
Oops! I've talked too much, and the waiter is here waiting for my order, so I'd better speak up!
"I'll take the Katana with a side order of Steampunk please!"
Stormdancer had two great things going for it: alternative universe Japan and steampunk. And if you had never been introduced to either of those worlds, then you likely would have been fascinated by the 'wealth' (read: truckload) of info dumping done to describe them. But as a long time Otaku and steampunk aficionado, I'm not impressed by the mythology or worldbuilding any more - I know it already. I want a great story first, not tell and never show. But it was all tell and I was bored to tears by this simplistic plot.
Plot: selfish jerk of a Shogun wants to show he's powerful and orders his chief beastmaster to go capture a griffin. Beastmaster and daughter (main character, Yukiko) set out on what is a hopeless task but they run into one. Griffin escapes, Yukiko uses her 'demon' powers to communicate and placate beast, they return to main City, and set out to kill evil emperor Shogun.
Right off the bat, the pace was slow, with lots of descriptions and info dumps, and the characters were very flat. There was so much loving descriptions going on about the world that it was almost annoying to have characters in that pretty place. I loved the entire concept of Lotus plants powering a steampunk type of world. And there were some great chances to really interject horror elements into the plots - demons and sacrifices and ritual deaths. But the author never stayed with the story and kind of meandered through the plot so he could show off his knowledge. This was a book that felt 600 pages long - I kept stopping and it was nearly impossible to want to return to the drudgery of endless mythology descriptions, Japanese history descriptions, societal ranking descriptions, blah blah. Especially since I was so well aware of it already anyway.
I know many will rail against how the author has portrayed Japan; but hey, it is an alternate universe. I don't mind the way he set it up at all and was fascinated by the things that were NOT authentic Japanese history. But the characters really need to live and breathe in that world and no one in the story did that. Everyone talked the same, acted the same, in very simplistic manners. There really was no subtlety or subterfuge, complexities or nuances. And that's where the story really started to drag with me. If the speaker wasn't named, it could have been ANY character that was speaking, male or female. The Achilles heel of this book was the lack of action and pace.
I listened to the Audible version and the author did a decent job, though there were some irritating tics in there. But she made it easy to differentiate between the different characters, giving them much more personality than the writer did.
Narrator was good.
Story was just slow to get started... and then when it did get started, it flew by.
Too much background at the beginning... not enough reflection once the plot finally kicks in.
Why does it take roughly 3 hours of an 11 hour book to start doing anything? The author seems to reveal in the Wikipedia-esque dumps of the landscape that really matter in the long run.
The description of everything is excellent, but it takes a while for the story to get going.
If they dont mind slow stories I would recommend this book.
Story was enjoyable. A little cliche, but, the exact theme is largely unique. Makes me want to run a pen and paper rpg in the setting. I plan on reading them all. Some words are horrendously mispronounced. More of a pet peeve than a major issue.
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