A cruel, selfish shogun sends a father-daughter team on a seemingly impossible task: to capture the near-mythical Arashitora, half white eagle and half white tiger. Daughter Yukiko succeeds in snaring the beast, only to discover that they share a bond that will ultimately take them on a larger quest to dethrone a shogun and lead his people out of slavery and addiction. This steampunk series opener set in feudal Japan is a skillful example of world building, although the denseness of the description may discourage some readers early on. Kristoff thoughtfully includes several glossaries and a few maps to support his imaginary world. Those who stay with it will be well rewarded with compelling characters—particularly Yukiko, the Arashitora Buruu, and the artificer Kin—a strong environmental message, and a thrilling battle setting the stage for the sequel. Offer this to fans of Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy or Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.Review by Library Journal Reviews
Since griffins no longer exist, Yukiko and her father are distraught when the cruel Shogun of the Shima Isles demands that they procure one for him. Yukiko eventually finds herself alone in the wilderness with a wounded griffin. Billed as Japanese steampunk and the first in a series; already buzzing. [Page 57]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.Review by Library Journal Reviews
A good tracker will tell you that a horse and rider passed two hours ago. An Irish tracker will tell you what the rider was wearing, the color of the horse's hooves, how the sun sparkled in the morning dew, and like that. The deeply imaginative Stormdancer is a quest novel of a decidedly Irish ilk set in a dystopian Japanese feudal society. If you enjoy rich detail and sensual writing, you'll dig it. Where others would use ‘slum,' Kristoff writes, "…a cramped and weeping growth of low-rent tenements and rusting warehouses slumped in the shadow of the sky-ships." The island empire of Shima is so badly polluted that many wear full protective gear when outdoors. The toxicity is caused by the chief crop—the blood lotus—which serves as fuel for steampunky machines like airships and which doubles as a super-addictive drug (like if your lawnmower was a meth mixer). There's a sociopathic shogun who wants what he wants and doesn't give a crap about anything else; what he wants is an arashitora, or griffin. After his hunter actually finds one, there's a terrible mess survived only by the hunter's tagalong daughter, Yukiko, who bonds with the griffin. Kristoff apparently didn't get paid for plot (predictable) but for massively inventive language and freaky elements like a decadent ruling class that immolates those (like Yukiko) who are ‘different.' Bristling with energy and enthusiasm, this is the start of what should be a deservedly popular series. — Douglas Lord "Books for Dudes" LJ Reviews 9/6/12 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
Kristoff's imaginative debut, the first in a series, presents the feudal, dystopian Shima Empire, a menacing Japanese-inspired setting in which "the lotus must bloom" even though it turns all it touches into a toxic wasteland. Blood lotus seeds produce the fuel that powers sky ships, but the plant's roots render the soil barren, and the fuel's noxious exhaust fumes slowly poison those too poor to afford mechanized breathing masks. Power lies in the hands of the corrupt, fanatical Lotus Guild and Yoritomo-no-miya, the mad, one-dimensionally evil shogun. During an impossible quest ordered by Yoritomo, 16-year-old Kitsune Yukiko is stranded in the country's last wilderness with Buruu, a furious griffin maimed by Yukiko's father. The two band together to survive, facing demons from the underworld and, in an exhilarating climax, the might of the empire itself. The innovative setting, fast-moving plot, vivid descriptions, and thrilling action scenes make this a refreshing addition to the steampunk canon. Agent: Matt Bialer, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLCReview by School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 9 Up—Set in feudal Japan, Stormdancer is a steampunk fantasy with richly drawn mythical creatures and a tough female protagonist. Yukiko and her father are sent to the hinterlands to capture a Thunder Tiger, which is rumored to exist there. Dogged by disaster from the start, Yukiko fights to take a stand against corrupt political systems and personal betrayal. Along the way, she discovers the truth behind her family history and dreams of redemption for herself, her homeland, and the crippled Griffin, with whom she makes an alliance. While this first book in the series paints a descriptive backdrop, casual readers may find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of original terms and concepts they'll need to digest. The plot is similarly dense, packed full of surprising twists and turns, nonstop action, and intense dialogue. Committed readers will enjoy the original and genre-bending world that the author creates, but it will take time and effort.—Sunnie Sette, New Haven Public Library, CT [Page 122]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Commanded by a murderous Shima Isles Shogun to capture a believed-extinct griffin, Yukiko embarks on a suicide mission with her father and finds herself stranded in the wilderness with an injured griffin with whom she makes a stand against corrupt authorities.Review by Publisher Summary 2
Sent by a murderous Shima Isles Shogun to capture a believed-extinct griffin, Yukiko embarks on her mission and is soon stranded in the wilderness with an injured griffin, with whom she makes a stand against corrupt authorities.Review by Publisher Summary 3
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.