This is the day I’ve been waiting for…my stop on the Endsinger Blog Tour! I’m so excited and humbled to be part of Jay’s tour, especially since Endsinger is the last book in his amazing Japanese steampunk series AAAHHHHHHH!! You can check out the other bloggers on the tour here, read my review below, and enter to win an ARC of Endsinger at the end of this post (U.S. only this time, folks).
Endsinger (The Lotus War #3) by Jay Kristoff
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release date: November 25 2014
Source: ARC from publisher
The nitty-gritty: A huge finish to a big, beautiful, and tragic series.
The city was dressed funeral black, boardwalk littered with the skeletons of gutted sky-ships. Spot fires still smoldered in Downside, filling the already choking air with smoke. Her people wore soot-stained clothes and bewildered expressions. Soldiers walked her cobbles, heads hung in shame. A mother wandered black riverbanks, her eyes as empty as the charred wicker stroller she pushed before her.
I find this review nearly impossible to write, having just finished Endsinger last night. My emotions are still pretty raw, like a bad knee scrape from falling on rocky asphalt. There are still little bits of sharp rock lodged under my skin; the wound is bloody and seeping. Just looking at the scrape causes me to wince in pain. In short, I want to lay my head down on my desk, weep for a while, then take a very long nap.
I’ve been a loyal reader of Jay’s series right from the beginning, so I was very happy to be asked to join the Endsinger tour. The first two books combined lots of emotional moments with all the bloody action, but they didn’t come close to the emotional experience of reading Endsinger. I knew going in things were going to get rough. Jay even said so. So I was ready for death, pain and disappointment. But things didn’t always go the way I was expecting, and rather than try to guess how everything is going to end, I recommend that you set all your expectations aside and simply enjoy the story.
No spoilers ahead, folks, but here’s what you need to know about The Lotus War series: It’s set in an alternate Japanese-like future and shares many of the same elements as feudal Japan, complete with samurai-ish warriors, where honor and loyalty reign and punishments are harsh. But in this world, the earth has been destroyed by a terrible enterprise: the growth and harvesting of the blood lotus, a poisonous plant that is used to make fuel for the machines that run this world, but whose smoke is slowly killing the people who breath it. Yukiko is a young girl who has spent most of her life under the black and dismal skies of Shima, and who is about to be thrust into a war between those who wish to be free of the treacherous rulers, and those who want nothing more than to keep the people of Shima enslaved.
Some readers may not care for Kristoff’s writing style, which I like to compare to a Wagnerian opera. Everything in Yukiko’s world is big and sad and terrible and wonderful, and reading these books isn’t so much reading words on the page as being immersed in the language and the emotions. Every action is fraught with meaning and emotion and consequences, and for some this might be too much. For me, it meant I could barely tear my eyes away.
Kristoff describes the horrors of war so well that I felt as if I were living each moment with the characters. It literally became hard to breathe at some points, because I could clearly imagine the smoke and stink from the chi refineries that make the air barely breathable. Yes, the story is violent, but the violence fit the story that Kristoff is telling, and even if it was too much for me at times, it certainly wasn’t out of line with what a feudal society would be like.
Some of my favorite characters in this series are the arashitora, the griffin-like creatures who befriend Yukiko. In the first book, Yukiko becomes steadfast friends with Buruu, an arashitora who has been exiled from his family. And in Endsinger, we get to meet even more of these creatures, including a female named Kaiah who bonds with Yukiko’s friend Hana. The bonds between arashitora and humans were quite special, since both Yukiko and Hana have the “kenning,” the ability to hear the thoughts of animals and communicate telepathically with them. Jay’s sometimes over-the-top prose brings the friendship between Buruu and Yukiko to life, and made me write this note as I was reading the book: “Buruu and Yukiko: the greatest love story ever told!”
I fell in love with some new characters this time around. Yoshi is Hana’s brother, and he suffered a terrible loss in Kinslayer. Now he’s bent on vengeance, and while he’s a very angry character, Yoshi also has a soft side, not to mention he becomes a hero in a very startling way.
And Kin! What can I say about him? He’s one of the most tragic characters in the story (and believe me, just about every character has something tragic about him) but he never loses sight of what he believes in. I’ve loved Kin from the beginning, and even though he went through some tough times in this last book, he remained a favorite character of mine through the entire series.
And Michi. Delicate but deadly, Michi is a whirlwind of a girl who is one of the best fighters in the story. She decides to write down the history of the Lotus War so that future generations will know what happened.
And so many more. Endsinger has so many characters, but luckily Kristoff repeats what he did in Kinslayer: he adds a sort of “where are they now?” character list at the beginning of the book that was very helpful.
And now for some favorite quotes:
Michi: “A wolf without a head is just a rug.”
Michi: “And you said a bottle of ink couldn’t win a war!”
Buruu: “TIME ENOUGH FOR TEARS WHEN THE WAR IS WON.”
I won’t give anything away, but you can tell from my opening paragraph that there are a lot of emotional moments in Endsinger. Characters betray each other. They fall in love. They forge life-long friendships. They grow up. They die. They mourn. And they move on. The ending made me cry, but it made me smile as well. All in all, a perfect way to close a very special series.
Big thanks to Thomas Dunne Books for supplying a review copy! All quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof, and may differ in the final version of the book.
About the author:
JAY KRISTOFF grew up in the most isolated capital city on earth and fled at his earliest convenience, although he’s been known to trek back for weddings of the particularly nice and funerals of the particularly wealthy. Being the holder of an arts degree, he has no education to speak of. He is six feet seven inches and has approximately 13,520 days to live. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and the world’s laziest Jack Russell Terrier.
And now for the giveaway: (1) U.S. winner will receive an ARC of Endsinger! Fill out the form below to enter. Giveaway ends on November 21st. Good luck!