Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff

Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff is the second book of his Lotus War series. I read (and briefly recapped) this book last year and loved it, so naturally I picked up #2 once I heard it was out. (Spoilers for Stormdancer below. You've been warned.)

Alas, Kinslayer suffers from the "link the beginning to the end" syndrome shared by so many other second in the series books. After opening with a brief who's-who (and where they are) refresher, Kristoff adds several new characters to an already substantial cast, including a clanless slum worker and another Guildsman. The plot centers on the Lotus Guild's solution to Shogun Yoritomo's death, their plans against the Kagé, and the Kagé rebellion's attempt to stifle those plans. Unfortunately, I think Kristoff's multi-perspective style has done his plot a disservice here; he seems determined to hop into every significant character's head at least once and quite a number of the minor ones as well. Because of this and the multiple narrative threads he has running simultaneously, the storyline is very jarring, jolting back and forth in time, location, action, etc. Likewise, character development suffers in this book, since we're not in anyone's head but Yukiko's or Kin's long enough to watch them grow. I still love the infusion of Japanese culture and mythology into a steampunk world, but wish he'd kept to a smaller number of perspectives.

Endsinger, the final book in the trilogy, will be out in September 2014 and I do plan to pick it up. Hopefully all the different tendrils Kristoff's got going will reunite into a strong conclusion.