Stormdancer: The Lotus War Book One by Jay Kristoff

Stormdancer: The Lotus War Book One

byJay Kristoff

Hardcover | September 18, 2012

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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.

About The Author

JAY KRISTOFF grew up in the most isolated capital city on earth and fled at his earliest convenience, although he's been known to trek back for weddings of the particularly nice and funerals of the particularly wealthy. Being the holder of an Arts degree, he has no education to speak of. He is the award-winning author of THE ILLUMINAE...
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Details & Specs

Title:Stormdancer: The Lotus War Book OneFormat:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.48 × 6.43 × 1.19 inPublished:September 18, 2012Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1250001404

ISBN - 13:9781250001405

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1YUKIKO  As the iron war club scythed toward her head, Yukiko couldn’t help wishing she’d listened to her father.She rolled aside as her cover was smashed to kindling, azalea petals drifting over the oni’s shoulders like perfumed snowflakes. The demon loomed above her, twelve feet high, all iron-tipped tusks and long, jagged fingernails. Stinking of open graves and burning hair, skin of polished midnight blue, eyes like funeral candles bathing the forest with guttering light. The club in its hands was twice as long as Yukiko was tall. One direct hit, and she would never see the samurai with the sea-green eyes again.“Well, that’s clever,” she chided herself, “thinking about boys at a time like this.”A spit-soaked roar pushed her hard in the chest, scattering a cloud of sparrows from the temple ruins at her back. Lightning licked the clouds, bathing the whole scene in fleeting, brilliant white: the endless wilds, the stranded sixteen-year-old girl, and the pit demon poised to cave in her skull.Yukiko turned and ran.Trees stretched in every direction, a steaming snarl of roots and undergrowth, stinking of green rot. Branches whipped her face and tore her clothes, rain and sweat slicked her skin. She touched the fox tattoo sleeving her right arm, tracing its nine tails in prayer. The demon behind her bellowed as she slipped away, over root and under branch, deeper into the suffocating heat.She screamed for her father. For Kasumi or Akihito. For anybody.And nobody came.The trees erupted and toppled in front of her, cleft to the heartwood by an enormous ten-span sword. Another oni appeared through the shower of falling green, tombstone mask for a face, lips pierced with rusted iron rings. Yukiko dived sideways as the great sword swept overhead, clipping her braid. Strands of long, black hair drifted down to the dead leaves.She was rolling to her feet when the oni snatched her up, quicker than flies, its awful grip making her cry out. She could read the blasphemous kanji symbols carved on its necklace, feel the heat gleaming from its flesh. The first oni arrived, bellowing in delight. Her captor opened its jaws, a black maggot tongue lolling between its teeth.She drew her tanto and stabbed the demon’s hand, burying six inches of folded steel to the hilt. Blood sprayed, black and boiling where it touched her skin. The oni roared and hurled her against a nearby cedar. Her skull cracked against the trunk and she crashed earthward, rag-doll limp, the bloody knife skittering from her grip. Darkness reached up to smother her and she desperately clawed it away.Not like this.The first demon’s laughter reminded her of screaming children, burning on Guild pyres in the Market Square. Its wounded comrade growled in a dark, backward tongue, stalking forward and raising its sword to end her. Lightning glinted on the blade’s edge, time slowing to a crawl as the blow began to fall. Yukiko thought of her father again, wishing for all the world she’d done what she’d been told for just once in her life.Thunder cracked overhead. A white shape burst from the undergrowth and landed on the oni’s back; a flurry of razors, broken blue sparks and beating wings. The demon shrieked as the beast tore into its shoulders, ripping mouthfuls of flesh with a blood-slick beak.The first oni growled, swinging its war club in a broad, hissing arc. Their attacker sprang into the air, tiny whirlwinds of falling leaves and snow-white petals dancing in time to the thrashing of its wings. The demon’s tetsubo slammed across its comrade’s shoulders. Bone splintered under the war club’s impact, the oni’s spine shattering like dark, wet glass. It crumpled to the ground, its last breath spattered in steaming black across Yukiko’s terrified face.The beast landed off-balance, digging bloodstained claws into the earth.The oni glanced at its companion’s corpse, shifting the war club from one hand to the other. Howling a challenge, it lifted the weapon and charged. The pair collided, beast and demon, crashing earthward and tumbling about in a flurry of feathers, petals and screams.Yukiko wiped at the sticky black in her eyes, tried to blink away her concussion. She could make out blurry shapes rolling in the fallen leaves, dark splashes staining the white azalea blossoms. She heard a crunch, a choking gurgle, and then a vast, empty silence.She blinked into the gloom, pulse throbbing behind her eyes.The beast emerged from the shadows, feathers stained black with blood. It stalked toward her and lowered its head, growl building in its throat. Yukiko groped toward her tanto, pawing through the muck and sodden leaves for the blade as her eyesight dimmed. The darkness beckoned, arms open wide, promising an end to all of her fear. To be with her brother again. To leave this dying island and its poisoned sky behind. To lie down and finally sleep after a decade of hiding who and what she was.She closed her eyes and wished she were safe and warm at home, nestled in her blankets, the air tinged blue-black with the smoke from her father’s pipe. The beast opened its beak and roared, a hurricane scream swallowing the light and memories.Darkness fell completely. Copyright © 2012 by Jay Kristoff

Editorial Reviews

"Kristoff's imaginative debut, the first in a series, presents the feudal, dystopian Shima Empire, a menacing Japanese-inspired setting. The innovative setting, fast-moving plot, vivid descriptions, and thrilling action scenes make this a refreshing addition to the steampunk canon." -Publishers Weekly, starred review"Soars higher than the arashitora Kristoff writes about; superb." -Kirkus, starred review"With its geisha girls in gas masks and canvas blimps spewing black exhaust as they chug across the sky, Stormdancer paints a vivid picture of a decrepit, steampunk Japan. It's startling to witness a country that so reveres nature presented in such an environmentally compromised position, as it is in the kickoff to Jay Kristoff's "The Lotus War" series. But it's this inventive juxtaposition that makes Stormdancer such a thrilling addition to the increasingly tired yet continuously expanding dystopian scene.. [A] fast-paced, fantastical adventure [that] is sharp as a Shogun's sword." -The LA Times"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 of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear"With airships, demons, and lashings of revolutionary swordplay, this chi-fueled vision of a steampunk feudal Japan will blow your split-toed socks off." -Scott Westerfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Leviathan"Jay Kristoff pushes the steampunk genre exactly where it needs to go, away from Victorian London's over-trodden lanes and into the great wide world. With its rocketing action, eccentric and convincing characters, and deep immersion in heroic Japanese culture, Stormdancer slammed my head into an updated vision of the great chanbara films of Kurosawa and Kobayashi. I'll be waiting for more from Mr. Kristoff." -K.W. Jeter, author of The Kingdom of Shadows"Set in a complex and richly imagined world, Stormdancer draws on inspirations as widespread as epic fantasy, steampunk, and Japanese mythology, effortlessly piecing them together into an alternate history that is as vibrant as it is disturbing. Yukiko is an admirable heroine, made of compassion and courage, but it's the remarkable friendship forged between Yukiko and the majestic thunder tiger, Buruu, that readers will find truly unforgettable. In this breathtaking debut fantasy, Kristoff has given us an adventure teeming with impossible quests and betrayals, rebellion and murder, jealousy and harbored secrets. I eagerly look forward to seeing where his imagination takes us next." -Marissa Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of Cinder"Jay Kristoff's Yukiko and her indomitable thunder tiger's entertaining adventures have just sent steampunk gloriously Asian." -Stephen Hunt, internationally bestselling author of The Kingdom Beyond the Sea"Kristoff's debut is a lyrical triumph of chainsaw swords and thunder tigers that steampunk fans and mythology buffs will devour." -Kevin Hearne, author of The Iron Druid Chronicles"Stormdancer is an intoxicating joyride into steampunklandia with a magical dose of mythology, the supernatural, violence, dystopian themes, and a top-notch brassy heroine who rivals Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games. Yes, I did say that!" -Huffington Post".the plot takes off when the mythical arashitora (literally 'stormtiger') forms a strong bond with the heroine, Yukiko. Her relationship with the griffin-like creature is especially poignant in light of the personal losses she reveals as the story unfolds. it's the bonds of family and friendship that feel the truest, with heartwrenching effect." -Romantic Times"Japanese Steampunk unafraid to engage with the dark side of the subgenre. The Lotus must bloom!" -SF Signal"If you enjoy rich detail and sensual writing, you'll dig it.. Bristling with energy and enthusiasm, this is the start of what should be a deservedly popular series." -Library Journal"Think Lassie, if Kurosawa had been the director and Lassie had been three tons of angry mythical demon-shredding sass bent on pushing Timmy down the well. A colorful cast of supporting characters and thoughtful plotting add further to Stormdancer's appeal, but, really, Kristoff has the reader at "girl meets griffin." The captivating backdrop, graceful prose and army of mechanized samurai are all just added bonuses." -Shelf Awareness"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." -Booklist"A steampunk fantasy with richly drawn mythical creatures and a tough female protagonist.. Packed full of surprising twists and turns, nonstop action, and intense dialogue." -School Library Journal