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 Lotus Guild conspires 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. (Via Goodreads)
This will be a brief review because I can’t wait to start Endsinger. Also there are some spoilers below.
I’ve been holding off on this series for a while, initially because I wanted all the installments to release before I read book 2 and then I didn’t read it for no apparent reason. It was an excellent idea to hold off though because I know that waiting for the next book to come out would have been nothing short of torture.
Kristoff is nothing if not a sadist and one who loves screwing with his readers (in a good way if that were possible) Stormdancer gives you an inkling of what to expect but it in no way prepares the reader for what’s to follow.
Stormdancer was a slow book because of the world building and the introduction of characters. Kinslayer, in that regard, is much better in terms of pace though this too has those odd slow patches. But that’s not really a bad thing.
The only irritant I had was the multiple POVs, there were far too many that made for a disjointed narrative. The flow would break after every chapter because he never placed the same narrator’s chapter back to back, one character’s chapter was always followed by another character’s chapter. I might, at some point, do what another reader/reviewer did, place all the chapters in the order of the characters and read them, I have a feeling that that might be better.
So in the spirit of keeping things brief, here are my impressions of the various characters:
Yukiko: far from perfect and drowning in hate and anger. She makes some mistakes but finds her way back to herself.
Kin: I’m torn between being sympathetic and wanting to smack him on the head.
Michi: The resident bad-ass and one of my favourite characters. I loved her.
Aisha: We saw more of her this time around, mostly through Michi’s flashbacks and I liked what I saw of her. I didn’t understand till the very end just what Yoritomo had done to her. He deserved to die a few times over for all the misery he put people through.
Daichi: The leader of the Kage but not always informed of what his own people are doing and that there are those in the Kage who are just as bad as their “oppressors”
Hiro: After his showdown with Yukiko and Buruu, he somehow manages to survive and thirsts for revenge against Yukiko. There is nothing of the gentle man we saw in Stormdancer and indeed that makes me think whether any of that was real or if was just a show he put on to get passed Yukiko’s defences.
Ichizo: Possibly the only decent character and Hiro’s cousin. I liked him and I think he was a genuinely decent characters though not entirely blameless. But I think he sees what Hiro is becoming and that worries him.
Akihito: Glad that he’s still around though he didn’t feature prominently in the book. I’m still bummed that Kasumi died, I liked her too.
Kaori: Don’t like her at all and I don’t trust her either.
Hana a.k.a. No One: She and her brother, Yoshi are the two new characters in the book among other minor additions. I liked her, she wanted to do something to change her circumstances and stand up against the Lotus Guild and the Shogün. She is also a Yokai-kin like Yukiko.
Yoshi: Hana’s elder brother. He makes some serious mistakes that have dire consequences. He underestimates his adversary and suffers dearly for it. I hope the Scorpion Children suffer in Endsinger.
Buruu: He was awesome as always and his asides just as entertaining as ever. His relationship with Yukiko is the best in the series and he’s easily my favourite character.
Kaiah: I hope I spelt it right. We don’t see for nearly long enough for me to have formed an opinion of her yet. She certainly seems more hardheaded that Buruu that maybe I’m just mistaken, at least she didn’t try to kill Yukiko, that’s a point in her favour.
Gaijin: We finally meet the Gaijin who seem remarkably like Vikings but all of them seem evil save one and that was a pity. That seemed a tad exaggerated.
Kagé: I like that they are not models citizens and all of them are nice. There are elements in their ranks that are worrisome. They are bloodthirsty and aren’t big of forgiveness. They are also narrow-minded. I don’t entirely like them.