Kinslayer is set in a complex world that combines feudal Japan with steampunk fantasy. I made the mistake of jumping into the novel without having read the earlier book or the description of characters and I was completely lost. I started over with the Lotus War Character Refresher and the maps, this grounded me in the story and completely changed the experience!
The second time around with knowledge of the first book in the series, I dove right into Kinslayer. Kristoff gives us a fascinating mix of ancient feudal Japan that is in the middle of a war with European countries and a power vacuum with the assassination of a despotic and unpopular Shogun. The heroine Yukiko has a rare ability to speak to other living creatures and as well as to harness surrounding energy as a dangerous power. Yukiko's new talents transform her into a folk hero and a symbol of resistance against a despotic government just as they bring her confusion and blinding headaches.
Yukiko searches for a guide or teacher to help her master her new powers taking with her the legendary thunder tiger. Their quest leaves her ally Kin, the Artificer engineer, in the middle of the rebel camp and vulnerable to the prejudices and anger of the less enlightened rebels. Kin had abandoned his old life, his family and everything that he knew when he helped Yukiko escape the Shogun's men by giving the thunder tiger mechanical wings. But because Kin is an Artificer, the Kage rebels view him with prejudice and distrust. The younger rebels continuously search him out and attack him. Kin's isolation and the Kage prejudice are recipe for disaster.
In the capital, there are young women fighting for the Kage rebellion as well. No Name is similar to an Untouchable; she collects the night soil throughout the Palace and passes on important information to the Lady Michi, a maidservant of Lady Aisha. Lady Aisha, the Shogun's sister, is held under house arrest for her part in the rebellion against her brother. Lord Hiro plans to marry the Lady Aisha and through this marriage rise to the position of Shogun. No Name is new to the rebellion but is determined to help Lady Michi and Lady Aisha during their imprisonment.
Kristoff gives us interesting and sympathetic characters in a complicated and difficult world and delivers an engrossing read!
About the Author:
Jay Kristoff is the author of of THE LOTUS WAR trilogy, a Japanese-inspired steampunk fantasy published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press & Tor UK. STORMDANCER and KINSLAYER are out now. Book 3 will be released in September 2014.