By: Jay Kristoff
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Source: ARC from Goodreads & publisher
Release date: September 18, 2012 via Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press
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 Shōgun 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 Shōgun 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 Shōgun’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.
-Summary from Goodreads
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There is a sky, bloody and pungent with fever. It is so red it drips so black it smothers. It rips savagely but softly, like the teeth of an animal biting a strip of meat. Imagine this. Then imagine a girl armored in leather-like fierceness and a griffin shrilling and clawing with the fervor of anger and loss, punched in deeper than a blow and scars longer than a lifetime.
In Stormdancer there is desperation edging anger and loss, and there is something very, very fierce, the face of defiance and cracking facades. That is this epic and this epic is phenomenal in every color and word.
I think what so cleanly separates movies from books is that movies generate more action and therefore often more epic than books do. Books can be epic, like Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman, but they are not images clamoring your vision. But see, I was wrong. Stormdancer is not so much of a book or a movie rather that it is a keen and enthralling combination of both, an epic that digs into your bones and words that shiver through your skin. It's very, very beautiful, in a savage, feral sort of way. The imagery is vivid and the world is so real you can feel the branches snapping at you and the thunder smacking your ears. I knew this was going to be epic, because Jay Kristoff has a knack for it, but what I did not expect was a tale woven of blood and family that is so, so, so good it is beyond capable human processing.
There is a caveat I need to say: in the beginning 80 pages or so of this book, I couldn't quite bear it. It was, honestly, slow-paced. The language was smooth like the silk of royalty, but I thought, maybe there is too much description in this. Please speed up soon. I am telling you this because hold on--hold on tight because you might want to shut the book or take a rest but do not--wait until you get to the thundertiger, the arashitora, and then close it because by then you will only be capable of doing so after you have read the entire book in a breath. It is a captivating story, but also an investment: the beginning constructs the world, not hurriedly and quickly, but brick by brick, so that it is more languid than usual but the most poignant profit of all.
In reality there seems to be a bridge between our imagination and the unknown beyond it, and we cannot cross that bridge. But Jay Kristoff scours for the water and succeeds, and he builds his own boat, a glorious, magnificent thing and on it he journeys past the horizon of our imagination and brings back with him the treasures of an adventure swelling with impossibility and luminosity.