Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review: Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff



This is the sequel to the book I raved about in this post.

Book one focused very much on Yukiko, a young woman with the ability to speak telepathically with animals. She's bonded with an Arashitora - a Thunder Tiger, or Griffin.

Book two, in contrast has as many, I think, viewpoint characters as one of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books, but like I said, he handles them better. He never sacrifices pace, and yet there's no shortage of character development or mood.

In Kinslayer, Yukiko is in mourning after the events of book one, plus suffering from some awful headaches as a result of her telepathic abilities being amplified. She leaves on a search for a clue to the cause of her crippling condition, and for much of the book is far from the rest of the action.

Instead of being trapped on the ground, wings clipped, though, we get to spend lots of time flying this book. I'm a pilot; I liked that part.  Kristoff returns to her just often enough to satisfy me, but there was so much going on in the capitol city, and in the rebel village, there was no telling the story with a single point of view like book one.

Now, there's a character from the first book who's name was Kin, who was a totally sweet boy, who doesn't deserve to die, and based on the first book, I didn't trust Mister Kristoff at all not to kill him. In The rebel village, we got Kin, who's crushing on Yukiko. That subplot is kind of set up to be a classic love triangle, except then Kristoff pretty much goes "Oh, you think this looks like a which-girl will-he-end-up-with story? HAHAHAHA!" And...oh my. Yeah. I won't spoil anything.

Okay. In Kigen, the capitol, Michi, the princess's handmaiden appears again, and we get to hear more of her background. She spends much of the book locked in her quarters, under suspicion of working with the rebels, so it's surprising how much action can happen in that one room. In a bid to clear her name, she's quite successfully seducing the Daimyo's uncle. But she might just be falling in love with him too, despite herself. Anyone seeing a pattern here? Anyone think they'll escape off into the sunset in one another's arms, away from the cares of their former lives?

Collaborating with Michi, to try and help her escape, is the other main viewpoint character, Hana, the girl who empties the chamber pots in the palace. She and her brother are both like Yukiko in their ability to speak with animals. At the same time she's hiding her association with the rebels from her brother Yoshi, Yoshi is hiding his plot to get rich from her. Seeing Yoshi was really cool too, because he and his lover are homosexual, and it's great seeing some representation in there.

So anyone who says it's hard to get female characters into stories because women just didn't do much in those days/in those settings, should be hit over the head with hardcover of Stormdancer and Kinslayer.

Well, I won't spoil anything, but I've come to the conclusion that Jay Kristoff hates all of his characters and enjoys seeing them suffer in terrible, terrible ways. Seriously, if there's anyone reading this who's a die-hard George R. R. Martin fan, those people should read Jay Kristoff, because he punishes his characters just as viciously and senselessly, loads on the scheming and betrayal, but dear gods, he manages pacing a million times better.

Also, FYI: if you really prefer happy endings, Jay Kristoff's books may not be for you. Or if you have issues with profanity. Or entrails.

In conclusion, Jay Kristoff is a terrible, terrible person, and I can't wait to read his next book.

Twelve cylinders.



On that note, the next one is Endsinger, and the release date is November 25th. But I have an advance reader copy in my hot lil' hands, provided by the publisher, so keep your eyes open for a review of book three, as well as a giveaway. That's right, there's going to be a free copy of Endsinger up for grabs, courtesy of the publisher, so watch out for details in November.

Off to start book three!