I received this book for free from blog tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A TREMBLING EARTH
The flames of civil war sweep across the Shima Imperium. With their plans to renew the Kazumitsu dynasty foiled, the Lotus Guild unleash their deadliest creation—a mechanical goliath known as the Earthcrusher, intended to unite the shattered Empire under a yoke of fear. With the Tiger Clan and their puppet Daimyo Hiro in tow, the Guild marches toward a battle for absolute dominion over the Isles.
A BROKEN REBELLION
Yukiko and Buruu are forced to take leadership of the Kagé rebellion, gathering new allies and old friends in an effort to unite the country against the chi-mongers. But the ghosts of Buruu’s past stand between them and the army they need, and Kin’s betrayal has destroyed all trust among their allies. When a new foe joins the war tearing the Imperium apart, it will be all the pair can do to muster the strength to fight, let alone win.
A FINAL BATTLE
The traitor Kin walks the halls of Guild power, his destiny only a bloody knife-stroke away. Hana and Yoshi struggle to find their place in a world now looking to them as heroes. Secret cabals within the Lotus Guild claw and struggle; one toward darkness, the other toward light. And as the earth splits asunder, as armies destroy each other for rule over an empire of lifeless ash and the final secret about blood lotus is revealed, the people of Shima will learn one last, horrifying truth.
There is nothing a mother will not do to keep her children by her side.
If I can describe this book in one word, I would have to say brutal. It’s the book we were all waiting for. The last book where we find out what happens when Shima goes to war. Who will help? What sacrifices will be made? Who will die? We all find out and I’m still trying to pull myself together to write this review.
As always with Jay’s books, he includes several different plot-lines with all the characters and ends each one with a cliffhanger. Do you know how many heart-pounding minutes I had to endure? You finish with one plot-line only to be bounced back into another where it’s almost always life or death. So many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming!
There’s also a bit more world building questions being answered, as well as a back-story to Buruu. We also find out what it means to be a “Kinslayer.” I loved the pacing and the intricate details of each character. And the crazy hoops that they go through, especially Yukiko. There was one part where I didn’t even recognize her. Her power for the Kenning grew ten-fold and we see it in use at the end. Eeps.
So much heartache! Endsinger punched me in the feels! Assaulted my heart and broke me apart. I loved it so much. If you are looking for a high fantasy Japanese steampunk read, pick up the Lotus War trilogy. I know you won’t be disappointed. One of my favourite reads of the year, hands down!
Chapter 6 – Insurrection
It had been eight years since Yukiko last laid eyes on Yama city.
Eight years, one mother, one father, and one lifetime ago.
Two thunder tigers soared over the metropolis, the rumble of a gathering storm and the Kurea at their backs. The Kitsune capital was a smudge on polluted riverbanks; a crust of brick
and dirty tile surrounded by struggling rice paddies and long, smoking tracts of deadland. Storm clouds filed in one by one to smother the sun, refinery smoke bruising the sky.
There it is, Buruu. Home of my clan. Seat of Kitsune power in Shima.
You think so?
. . . NOT REALLY, NO.
Well you’re in a lovely mood today.
I WAS TRYING TO BE POLITE.
Maybe stick to what you do best?
SARCASM IT IS, THEN.
They swooped lower, Hana and Kaiah beside them, watching the tiny bushimen on the walls below gathering to point andstare. Yukiko held her stomach, fighting mild nausea as the world rose up beneath them. The Fox capital was a fortress, built in the shadow of the haunted Iishi Mountains. Great walls encircled the city, topped with razor wire.
The Amatsu river cut the capital in half, and a lone island sat in the middle of the flow, linked to either bank by broad bridges. Chapterhouse Yama was a pentagon of yellow stone in the island’s centre, and a dozen airships hung about the sky-docks on either bank. To the south loomed the knotted tangle of the chi refinery, the Warehouse District, shrouded with grime and smog. Atop a hill on the west side of the city glowered Kitsune-jō – the mighty Fortress of the Fox.
I was eight when we left here. I remember standing at the railing and watching the people grow smaller and smaller as we flew away. Mother and Father beside me.
THEY WOULD BE PROUD OF YOU, SISTER.
How do you know that?
YOU LEFT THIS PLACE A CHILD. YOU RETURN A STORMDANCER. HOW COULD THEY NOT BE?
She smiled, put her arms around his neck.
You always know the right thing to sa—
A thunderous boom split the skies, pulling Yukiko’s thoughts back into the real. She looked down into the city, toward Chapterhouse Yama. The tower loomed on a flat spur of rock in
the Amatsu river known as Last Isle. It was the symbol of Guild power in Kitsune lands. A bastion of razor wire and broken glass and dirty yellow stone.
And it was on fire.
The structure stood lopsided, smoke billowing from four of its five gates, covering the river with a soup of rolling black. Yukiko could see figures through the pall; insectoid shapes in burnished metal clashing on bridges and in dog-leg alleyways on Yama’s west side. Citizens were simply fleeing across the Amatsu in floods, husbands holding wives and mothers holding children. Subterranean explosions shook the city’s spine, the popopopopop! of shuriken-throwers, the boiling hiss of flame-spitters. The smell of blood and fuel and burning meat.
She heard a shout behind, saw Akihito on the Kurea’s foredeck, waving frantically and pointing to the ship’s radio antenna. And as her belly dropped into her toes, Yukiko knew what had
happened. Kaori had lived up to her word. She must have broadcast on the Kagé frequencies about the Guild rebellion. In a matter of minutes, she’d undone what had taken years, maybe
decades to build. And all for the sake of hatred . . .
Another explosion tore through the Chapterhouse, the buildinglisting dangerously. Black smoke rose into the choking sky.
‘Kaori,’ Yukiko whispered. ‘You bitch . . .’
Buruu sailed through the ash and smoke as Yukiko tried tomake sense of the conflict. She slipped behind Buruu’s eyes, saw dozens of Guildsmen clashing below, figures sprawled in the
gutters, broken brass leaking red. So many . . .
I can’t tell them apart! Fly lower, Buruu. We can see—
. . . What?
I WILL NOT DESCEND.
What the hells are you talking about? We have to help!
TOO DANGEROUS. FOR YOU AND THEM.
The rebels? You’re not making—
NOT THE GUILDSMEN, YUKIKO. THE ONES INSIDE YOU.
Yukiko’s hand went to her stomach, the sparks of warmth gathered there.
This isn’t about them!
EVERYTHING YOU DO IS ABOUT THEM.
Oh my GODS, don’t start going all male on me now.
I AM EQUIPPED FOR LITTLE ELSE.
I’m still the same person! I’m not some damn incubator youhave to wrap in cotton wool!
CHARGING INTO A MELEE WITH A HUNDRED WARRING CHI-MONGERS—
There are people down there dying!
BETTER THEM THAN YOU.
Godsdammit, it’s that kind of thinking that’s led us here! Thatone life is worth more than another. Guildsmen worth more than citizens. Nobles more than commoners. Shimans more than gaijin.
No! Either all life is worth fighting for, or none of it is!
A thundering shockwave crashed against them, near knocking her from Buruu’s back. Hana cried out, pointed at the chi refinery, the blossoming fireball rising into the skies. The complex
shattered as if it were glass, klaxon wails and screams lost under the explosion’s rumbling yawn. Lazy flame stretched up and out, black smears across blood-red skies.
‘What the hells is going on?’ Hana yelled.
‘Kaori outed the Guild rebels over the wireless! The rebels had no warning this was coming. We have to help them!’
‘Help who? I can’t tell who’s a rebel and who isn’t!’
Buruu’s voice echoed in the place where the headaches lived.
Yukiko squinted down through the black and blood haze. She glimpsed two Lotusmen weaving amidst the tumbledown maze, one pursuing the other, rocket packs trailing blue-white flame. The one in front was marked with red paint; messy strokes across its spaulders, one deep line down its featureless face. The Lotusman in pursuit fired a popping burst of shuriken from a
handheld thrower, metal stars glittering like fireflies.
‘The ones trying to run!’ she shouted. ‘They’re marked with red!’
‘You’re right!’ Hana yelled. ‘They must be the rebels! Go! Go!’
Hana leaned into Kaiah’s spine and the pair dived into the smoke, spiralling as they fell. Kaiah clapped her wings together, an ultrasonic boom of Raijin Song rippling outwards, scattering
the Guildsmen in the streets below. Buruu’s eyes were locked on the carnage. Bursts of shuriken fire severing fuel lines, rupturing chi tanks. Gouts of flame, tangled knots and clumsy brawls, Lotusmen colliding mid-air, tumbling to ruin beneath collapsing houses. Citizens were running from the inferno where the refinery used to be, tiny figures hurling themselves into the Amatsu river, its filthy ‘waters’ already ablaze.
Buruu, they’re dying. We have to help them!
The arashitora said nothing, amber eyes locked on the carnage below. Yukiko’s fingers ran over her stomach, the place she wouldn’t let herself think about. She reached out with the Kenning
and felt warmth there, resisting the urge to turn away.
Brother, I need you on my side. On our side. Now, more than ever.
Buruu sighed from the tips of his feathers. Muted daylight gleamed on the metal covering his wings, the polarized glass over her eyes, the Guildsmen fighting and dying below.
WHAT OTHER SIDE WOULD I BE ON?
And like a stone, they dropped from the sky.
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