Review Take Two & Giveaway: Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff

Friday, October 4, 2013
Title: Kinslayer
Author: Jay Kristoff
Genre: steampunk, fantasy
Series: The Lotus War #2
Pages: 448 (ARC edition)
Published: September 17, 2013
Source: Forwarded to me from Jessie
Rating: 4.5/5

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.

Reviewed by Danielle

Remember how I struggled with Stormdancer? How I was tortured between my love of Yukiko and Buruu and my very real concerns with racist and sexist content? Well I’m happy to say that the only struggle with Kinslayer is putting into words what a forward leap I find it.

There are still a lot of -sans and -samas and at least one saraimen, but I didn’t see a single aiya or closed fist bow. I think Kristoff really listened to the criticism of the first book. The time period still seems to be an interesting mash-up of Europe’s industrial revolution, Edo Period Japan, (which did overlap, but the gaijin technology seems more early 1800s, while the Shima culture is more 1600s,) and early 1900s Yakuza. (Again, they existed in the Edo Period, but the torture was more reminiscent of the Russian Mafia from the 1920s.) I can see how, especially in a long term war environment, a culture could stagnate a bit while weapon technology advanced, but I found most of the mob scenes incongruous because they invoke a time so far in the future.

Split between four locations with alternating points of view, Kinslayer introduces and reintroduces a bevy of interesting characters, beyond Yukiko and Buruu. They’re still here, of course, but their journey is almost secondary to the intrigue going on in Kigen.

This time around, Yukiko and Buruu fly off to find a way to deal with Yukiko’s growing psychic powers. There’s one hell of a scene at an abbey and an unlikely meet-up on an island of black glass, but their chapters will be remembered for the bombshell dropped. It’s not a twist I saw coming, or even particularly like, (OK, I hate it,) but it’s sure to have fans talking. Strangely, despite the book being seemingly named for Buruu’s mysterious past, we never learn more than is given in the blurb. Together he and Yukiko only get about a half dozen chapters and they remain disconnected from the main story.

Speaking of, Kigen is in turmoil from the death of the emperor and there are a lot of people capitalizing on that. The four clans are coming just shy of war, as no heir to Yoritomo is available. This allows the Lotus Guild to really take control through a figurehead, which is kind of the opposite of what Yukiko was going for.

Michi has remained in the palace and manages to continue being the most compelling character for me, while being completely under guard. The glimpses into her past give a very good, realistic direction to where her character has ended up. She remains fiercely strong and unrepentantly ass-kicking. When you’re done with “that scene”, message me so we can flail together.

Michi is also connected to our main new character, No One, a new Kagé spy inspired by the Stormdancer’s speech. She risks everything, especially if the Lotus Guild finds her, to help Michi and the other rebels. She’s a bit one note at times and her big reveal left me scratching my head, but her backstory was super compelling and she gets one big, kick ass moment that left me cheering.

Exploring themes of family and love, along with anger and revenge, all of the characters are struggling to find their footing in this new empire. Some regress and some push forward, but no one’s making easy choices. As the stage is set for an explosive series finale, I don’t expect we’ll ever see easy again.

Kinslayer is an impactful story that wrung the emotions out of me. It’s a rare sequel that surpasses the first book and really tries to course correct. Kristoff still hasn’t met a noun that he doesn’t want to attach an adjective, (or two,) to, but it’s no longer repetitive. The world building is cleaner, battles are bigger, and its heart, more breaking. I truly recommend.

And since Jessie was kind enough to pass her ARC copy on to me, we’re paying it forward and sending it to one of you.

  • US Addresses only.
  • Contest closes October 11, 2013.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. First Comment! Yay! I'm really interested in this book. It's an interesting take on steampunk.

  2. Thanks for the great review! I just got book 1 and I'm so excited to start reading :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have yet to read Stormdancer though I have really wanted to. I love the cover of this one and am glad that it seems to get better reviews overall than the first. Excited to start this series!

    My Friends Are Fiction

  4. I am so excited to start this book. I love how Yukiko is a strong character without the author bragging about her abilities, she's a girl that was raised to use weapons and be in control. She knows how to stand her ground and she knows how to get what she wants! Everyone has their own personality according to their backgrounds and I think Jay does a great job introducing unique characters while some authors everyone speaks the same and kind of acts the same. I can't wait to have my heart broken again by this read ;)

  5. I just got Stormdancer and I'm really excited to read this series. I've heard AMAZING things about Kinslayer, pretty much everyone says it's better than Stormdancer, and that makes me even more excited for these. I'm glad the things that bothered you about Stormdancer weren't present in its sequel. Thanks for the review and the giveaway!

  6. I've heard so many great things about this book! I loved the first one, and can't wait to pick up Kinslayer from the library :)

  7. Ah, I love this series! Great reiew!

  8. This one is on my TBR pile. Excellent review of it.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © 2015 Ageless Pages Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Amelia Theme by The Lovely Design CO and These Paper Hearts.