Your blood-red skies are filled with smoke. Your bleach-white histories with lies. You walk sleeping. Wake senseless. Breathing deep of toxic blooms and forgetting all that has gone before.
But I remember.
I remember when two brothers waged bloody war over the right to sit in their father’s empty chair. I remember when orphaned twins faced each other across a field of crimson and steel, the fate of the Shima Sh?gunate hanging in the poisoned sky between them.
I remember when a blind boy stood before a court of storms and talons, armed only with a thin sword and a muttered prophecy and a desperate dream of saving the world.
I remember when the skies above Shima were not red, but blue. Filled with thunder tigers.
I remember when they left you.
And I remember why.
Let me tell you, monkey-child.
History teaches us. Normally history teaches us how the people who came before us messed up the world and left the ruins behind for us “children are our future” to rebuild. Fact is, the problems of the now have causes. “The Last Stormdancer” is about the causes. The kingdom of Shima is being suffocated. Its sacred animals have either faded into extinction or moved on. The greedy, the misguided, blind fools rule the kingdom while the weak are kept underfoot. Yukiko and Buruu with the help of the bad-ass ninja rebels the Kage are fighting a secret war made bloody public in Jay Kristoff’s wonderful Japanese steampunk debut “Stormdancer” (I loved the hell out of this novel, read the review by clicking here). How did the world of Shima go to hell in a stinking chi basket? “The Last Stormdancer” novella has some answers, or at least it shows readers the some of the mistakes that led to the start of the first Lotus War novel.
“The Last Stormdancer” is a novella that arrived just in time to get fans ready for next week’s release of “Kinslayer”, the second book in the Lotus War series. This novella is a page turner. Great action scenes, well paced, crisp dialogue. If you thought the high-flying action with a soaring Buruu was awesome then multiply that by a thousand… a thousand thunder tigers versus airships and steampunk samurai! More than that, the narrative, though short, is beautifully written. Shima is becoming a sick world, a horrific sight that is contrasted by the beautiful skies the thunder tigers call home… a home threatened by the Guild’s polluting crimson chi. The descriptions of the high mountains, the fresh air blanketed by roaring storm clouds are breathtaking.
The novella is written from the POV of Koh, a female thunder tiger. And like Buruu, Koh’s voice is distinctive, proud and strong. She is the only one of her kind that believes the world is changing and that if the thunder tigers are to survive they must not run away from Shima but change too, ally with the humans, combat the change that threatens her species’ existence.
Koh is not the only memorable character. Ami the would-be Shogan’s neglected wife and Juun the blind stormdancer have a special place in my heart. Like Koh, Ami and Juun have so much hope and courage it lifts the soul of the reader while reading about their adventure. As they hurry to stop a war between two brothers fighting of their deceased father’s empty throne, the reader wants Ami and Juun to succeed, we cheer their valor, whoop their triumphs, gasp when they bleed and cry. And trust me, there is much sobbing.
“The Last Stormdancer” is not a novella for the weak of heart. The story is emotional, full of highs and lows in the right places… even when the right places are not where we want Kristoff to take us. Our own history is filled with blood and tears, wars, death. Shima’s history is no different.
Next week “Kinslayer” drops. I cannot wait. “The Last Stormdancer” was a nice treat, an appetizer before the main course. I am hungry! Support Jay, show your love by visiting his site by clicking here.