Stormdancer, a Review

Disclaimer: My reading was a little skewed, spread over months instead of days, due to this thing called “school” and readings that I had to do for class. With that said, here are a few thoughts on the novel.

(image cribbed from Jay Kristoff’s site)

I’ve not read much “official” Steampunk before. I’ve had Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker on my shelves for a while, and came *this* close to starting it over the summer, but didn’t. One of the selling points for the novel, to be quite honest, was Patrick Rothfuss’s cover 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.”

See why I was intrigued? I picked up a copy just after it was released, and started it while I was in Martha’s Vineyard at Viable Paradise. Long days and fatigued, fuzzy-headed nights were not the best environment to make much progress with the novel. For someone with very sketchy Japanese familiarity, some of the vocabulary – honorifics, etc. – could be cause for stumbling points*.

But… but…

Even the periodic tripping over the honorifics is worth it if you have any interest in either Steampunk or anything vaguely Japanese (ie – Samurai, Bushido, etc.). Did I mention there’s a Thundertiger (a form of griffin)?

Two things that the writer in me picked up: a few moments where his word choice felt like it was too modern for the tone of the text (in those few moments I couldn’t really think of something that might fit better, but I also didn’t try too hard – I understood the context and kept going). Nothing significant enough or often enough to bother most readers, and I mention it as an observation.

The other thing, what I really liked and appreciated, was how it was written structurally, and how the epilogue loops back to a moment much earlier in the story as a potential foreshadowing for the second book.

Right, I’ll stop there with this last bit of advice: look for a copy, give it a spin.

*Note: I had similar issues with the “slang” in Burgess’s Clockwork Orange. The issues lessened, but occassional words would pop up that could still be problematic just because of the unfamiliarity.

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