Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review: Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff

Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Tor UK
Release Date: September 12th 2013
My Goodreads rating: 5/5

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.
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.
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.

With my first review, I debuted the list. With this review I am debuting the 'I'm not very well so please forgive me' review. Let's see how it goes. 

Kinslayer is the second book in a trilogy, so if you haven't read Stormdancer yet - GO DO IT NOW.

Done? Ok.

I can't really start anywhere else than with Yukiko, our heroine. She remains a superstar, but my absolute favourite part of Yukiko's arc in this book was how it really wasn't at all central to the plot. That might sound strange, and of course her stuff was still important, but Kristoff allowed so many other characters to take central stage in this one. This allowed Yukiko to meet some new characters and to introduce new aspects of the world and the story, whilst keeping the plot moving along.

And the majority of those other characters? WERE AWESOME LADIES. 

Yukiko is a brilliant female lead. She's tough, but she's still a girl. She's not all that girly herself, but she has no issue with others being so. She falls in love and she has sex, which is always good - right? I loved her in Stormdancer, and I loved her here. Yet there weren't really any other girls in Stormdancer. I mean...they existed, but they either came into the book quite late, or they were mostly just background characters. And then it seemed as though half of them died and we'd still just have Yukiko. That is not the case in Kinslayer AT ALL. There is a great variety of girls this time around and I loved it. We have Kaori, the warrior. Yukiko, the hero. Aisha, the noble. Ayane, the Guildswoman. Hana, the SPOILERS. And Michi, the assassin. We even meet a female Arashitora!

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT HANA AND MICHI. Well, actually I won't because they are too awesome to spoil. But wow, did I love them. My brain is foggy and my eyes are blurry and I worry that I'm not getting my point across. LOTS OF GIRLS. MUCH VARIETY. HUGE FANTASTICNESS.

The plot of Kinslayer is quite slow until the final third where it continuously punches you in the face (seriously). The POV jumps around quite a lot too, but I never minded! Because there were awesome characters all over the place. There were great male characters too, but really the girls steal the show.

We also get our first snippet of LGBTQ representation in this book (I don't think there was any in Stormdancer?) with a gay couple. I appreciated how Kristoff didn't introduce them with any great fanfare. They are just together, they're adorable, and that's that. Yoshi was definitely the more interesting of the two and then...well, SPOILERS, but it was always lovely seeing them interact. We also get a brief insight into how the society here looks upon gay relationships. The impression I got was that if you're nobility or upper class it's a no, otherwise nobody really minds much? I'd definitely like to get a further insight into this!

I will just quickly talk about the setting of this series. It's a steampunk fantasy world based heavily upon feudal Japan. Now, before I ever started the series I had seen a few reviews stating how this series is cultural appropriation. I'm simply not qualified to make a judgement on that. I know a few things about feudal Japan, but only in a basic sense. Therefore it MIGHT offend you and maybe check out a few other reviews first? I can't personally see any reason for it though. 

The Gaijin, often mentioned in Stormdancer, are presented as the equivalent of the Western world, and they actually come into play in this book! I'm really looking forward to seeing that aspect of the series develop. I suspect that the final book in the series shall tackle prejudice in a move overt sense than the first two. 

Overall, Kinslayer is a fantasy novel very much focused on overturning a corrupt Empire.It does not necessarily tackle issues we are familiar with overtly, but they are in there. I can see no reason why somebody looking for fair representation with regards to gender would not enjoy this series. And I think other issues of representation will be sneaking into play in the final book. I cannot wait to read it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!