06 June 2013

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff


On the cover of Stormdancer is the following blurb:

“What’s that?  You say you’ve got a Japanese steampunk novel with mythic creatures, civil unrest, and a strong female protagonist?  I’m afraid I missed everything you said after ‘Japanese steampunk.’  That’s all I really needed to hear.”  -- Patrick Rothfuss, #1 New York Times bestselling author

So yeah...they probably couldn’t have picked a better blurb.  That summed things up quite nicely.

Stormdancer was a fun read, though it took me a little while to get into it: though the book had a glossary at the back to help you with the unfamiliar Japanese terms, I didn’t actually discover that until after I had already finished the book.  There was no table of contents to hint that there was anything lurking back there, either.  That’s more of an editorial quibble, I suppose.  But it would have helped.

Regardless, the characters and world of Stormdancer were richly realized, and, aside from the occasional vocabulary hiccups, quite immersive.  It was at once strange and familiar, unique and yet perfectly informed by what’s come before.  It kind of made me think of what would happen if Steamboy, Akira, and Eragon were all put into a blender together, and then went through a gender change.

Kristoff also explored a moral area that western readers are perhaps less familiar with: the Code of Bushido plays a large part in the story, and the morality that goes along with it is at the heart of the story.  What are oaths to a liar worth?  Can honor be found in serving a dishonorable lord?  These are questions that permeate Stormdancer.

I thought the approach to romance in the novel was interesting as well.  There was no puppy love, and not really any love triangle either: the protagonist knew what she wanted and went after it, and there were some surprisingly adult decisions made along the way, both by the character and by the author.  It was a refreshing choice, when so many novels with female protagonists dwell so much on the “which one will she choose?” sort of love triangle.

I thoroughly enjoyed Stormdancer and look forward to its sequel.  Now...time to finally finish The Wilderness Warrior.

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Books: Waiting for The Wilderness Warrior to return, so starting on Atlas Shrugged.

Bottles: Had a glass of La Vieille Ferme's red wine with dinner last night because I cooked with it...didn't make any tasting notes.

Writing: Been too busy moving to write any!

Guitar: Been too busy moving for guitar!  But now that I'm finally moved in, going back to "Marooned."