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Kinslayer is Book Two in Jay Kristoff's critically acclaimed Lotus War series that began with Stormdancer, featuring an unforgettable heroine and a stunningly original Japanese dystopian steampunk world
A SHATTERED EMPIRE
The mad Shogun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The toxic blood lotus flower continues to ravage the land, the deadlands splitting wider by the day. The machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild conspire to renew the nation's broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously - by endorsing a new Shogun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.
A DARK LEGACY
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.
A GATHERING STORM
Kagé assassins lurk within the Shogun'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.
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JAY KRISTOFF is the author of Stormdancer. He 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 the award-winning author of THE ILLUMINAE FILES and THE GODSGRAVE CHRONICLES, among other tiles.
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.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
THE GIRL ALL GUILDSMEN FEAR
Three Guild warships rumbled across a blood-red sky with all the finesse of fat drunkards lunging toward the privy. They were capital warships of the “ironclad” series; the heaviest dreadnoughts constructed in the Midland yards. Balloons the color of flame, shuriken-thrower turrets studding their inflatables, vomiting black exhaust into opiate skies.
The flagship leading the trio was a hundred feet long, three red banners embroidered with lotus blooms trailing at her stern. Her name flowed down her bow in broad, bold kanji—a warning to any fool who would stand in her way.
LADY IZANAMI’S HUNGER.
If Brother Jubei felt any trepidation about serving on a ship named for the Dark Mother’s appetites, he hid it well. He stood at the stern, warm inside the brass shell of his atmos-suit despite the freezing wind. Trying to still the butterflies in his stomach, quiet his pounding heart. Repeating the mantra: “skin is strong, flesh is weak, skin is strong, flesh is weak,” seeking his center. Yet try as he might, he couldn’t still the discontent ringing inside his head.
The fleet’s captain stood at the railing, surveying the Iishi Mountains below. His atmos-suit was decorated with ornate designs, brass fixtures and pistons embossed with steel-gray filigree. A mechabacus clicked and chittered on his chest; a device of counting beads and vacuum tubes, singing the tuneless song of windup insects. A dozen desiccated tiger tails hung from the spaulders covering the captain’s shoulders. They were rumored to have been a gift from the great Fleetmaster of the Tora Chapterhouse, Old Kioshi himself.
The captain’s name was Montaro, though his crew preferred to call him “Scourge of the Gaijin.” He was a veteran of the Morcheba invasion, had commanded the Guild fleet supporting Shogunate ground troops against the round-eye barbarians across the Eastborne Sea. But when the war effort had begun disintegrating in the wake of the Shogun’s assassination, Chapterhouse Kigen had recalled the captain and set him tracking a new foe, back on Shiman shores. To Brother Jubei’s great pride, of all the newly Awakened Shatei in Kigen, Second Bloom Kensai had selected him to serve as the Scourge’s new aide.
“Do you require anything, Captain?” Jubei stood at the Scourge’s back, a respectful distance away, eyes downcast.
“A sniff of our quarry would suffice.” Faint annoyance in the crackling buzz that passed for the captain’s voice. “Other than that, this weak flesh abides.” He touched a switch, spoke into his wrist. “Do you see anything up there, Shatei Masaki?”
“No movement, Captain.” The lookout’s reply was faint, despite him being perched only thirty feet above their heads. “But this forest canopy is thick as fog. Even with telescopics, we’re hard-pressed to pierce it.”
“Clever rabbit,” the Scourge hissed. “He’s heard our engines and gone to ground.”
Jubei watched a spire of rock drift past their starboard; a black iceberg in a sea of maple and cedar. Thin cloud clung to the mountaintops, peaks crusted in snow, the rumble of engines and heavy thupthupthup of propellers echoing in the forest beneath them. Autumn cupped the Iishi Mountains at the edge of a cold embrace, the colors of rust waiting at the edge of the stage.
The Scourge sighed, hollow and metallic.
“I know it to be the impulse of my weak flesh, but I confess I missed these skies.”
Jubei blinked back his surprise, wondering if he should engage his commanding officer in idle chatter. After long empty moments, the young Guildsman decided it would be impolite not to respond, speaking with hesitance.
“… How long were you stationed in Morcheba, Captain?”
“Eight years. Eight years with nothing but blood-drinkers and skinthieves for prey.”
“Is it true the skies above the round-eye lands are blue?”
“No.” The Scourge shook his head. “Not anymore. Closer to mauve now.”
“I would enjoy seeing them one day.”
“Well, the sooner we butcher our rabbit, the sooner we get back there.” Gauntleted fingers drummed the wooden railing. “I’d hoped to run him down before he reached the Iishi. But he’s resourceful, this one.”
Jubei looked at the ships around them, bristling with weaponry and mercenary marines. The discontent rapped at the inside of his teeth, demanding to be let out for air.
“Forgive me, Captain,” he ventured. “I know Old Kioshi’s son is a traitor. I know he must be punished for crafting the thunder tiger’s wings, aiding in its escape. But this fleet … all this effort to kill one boy seems…”
“Hai.” A slow nod. “I have heard rumor that Old Kioshi and Second Bloom Kensai were as brothers. That Kensai-sama raised the traitor as his own son. But, forgive my temerity—does it not seem to you there is more important prey for us to be hunting?”
“You speak of Yoritomo’s assassin.”
“And the Kagé rebels who shelter her.”
The Scourge glanced at him, grim amusement in his voice.
“Shelter her? She is not exactly hiding from us, young brother. Visiting all four clan capitals in the past fortnight. Bringing the skinless to the edge of outright rebellion. Slaying the Shogun of this nation simply by looking at him.”
“All the more reason to hunt her down, surely?” Jubei felt righteous anger curdle his voice. “The citizenry say we in the Lotus Guild are afraid of her. A slip of a girl. A child. Do you know what they call her, Captain? The skinless, gathered in their filthy gambling pits and smoke houses? Do you know the name they give her?”
“Stormdancer,” the Scourge replied.
“Worse,” Jubei spat. “They call her ‘the girl all Guildsmen fear.’”
A hollow chuckle echoed inside the Scourge’s helm. “Not this Guildsman.”
Jubei lost his voice, stared at his feet, wondering if he had spoken out of turn. The Scourge glanced at one of their support vessels, the Lotus Wind, rumbling a mile off their stern, twin trails of blue-black exhaust spewing from the ironclad’s engines. He touched a switch at his chest, spoke again into his wrist, iron in his voice.
“Captain Hikita, report.”
“… o sign,” came the faint reply, almost inaudible through the static. “… ut we are almost directly abov … site where the Resplendent Glory picked … tsune girl last summer … ronghold should be … rby.”
“He cannot be far,” the Scourge growled. “He left the river only last night, and on foot. Have your munitioneers prepare a fire barrage. Five-hundred-foot spread from the water’s edge. Time to flush this rabbit from his hole.”
Confirmation crackled down the comms channels, tinged with reverb.
The Lotus Wind banked ponderously and trekked back south, the drone of its propellers smudged across the sky. Jubei saw fire crews swarming over the decks like tiny armored ants, loading incendiary barrels, setting ignition charges. He was scanning the forest canopy when the Wind’s captain signaled the barrage was finally primed and ready. The Scourge’s voice hissed down the all-comms frequency.
“Lookouts, eyes open. Captain Hikita, commence bombardment.”
Jubei saw a cluster of black shapes fall from the Wind’s belly, tumble down into the autumn shroud below. A second later, all peace shattered, a series of dull whumping booms accompanying the blossoms of flame bursting amidst the trees, unfurling a hundred feet into the air and buffeting the Hunger like a child’s toy. Faint vibrations pressed against Jubei’s metal skin as the Wind cruised the shuddering riverbank, setting huge swathes of the forest ablaze.
The flames caught and spread, licking autumn leaves with fevered tongues, a curtain of choking soot and char drifting through the woods on blackened feet. Off the starboard side, their second escort, Void’s Truth dumped a second cluster of firebombs amidst the ancient trees, trembling reverb echoing down the river valley. Flocks of shrieking birds took to the wing, animals of all shapes and sizes fleeing north through the undergrowth, away from the grasping flames. Jubei watched it all unfold with a kind of fascination—the power of his Guild’s technology obliterating what had taken centuries to grow in a matter of moments.
“Any sign?” the Scourge asked over all-comms.
“Negative,” reported the Wind’s lookouts.
“No sign,” from the Hunger’s eyes above.
The Truth’s reply popped with faint static. “We have contact. Three hundred yards, north-northeast. Acknowledge?”
“I have him,” reported the Hunger’s lookout. “Seventy degrees starboard.”
The Hunger’s pilot kicked the engines to full burn, the propellers’ song rising an octave as they swung about to begin pursuit. Jubei engaged his telescopics, scanning the shifting chinks in the forest canopy as a sudden sweat burned his eyes. The vista below crackling sharp in his vision. Smoke coiled amidst moss-encrusted giants. Falling leaves and fleeing birds. An empire of bark and stone. But at last, yes, he saw him, he saw him—a thin figure in dirty gray, darting between two gnarled and looming maples.
“There!” Jubei cried. “There he is!”
Short dark hair. Pale skin. Gone.
“Ground crews, prepare for pursuit.” The Scourge’s command was calm as millpond water. “’Thrower teams full alert. Second Bloom has ordered us to liquidate target on sight.”
The Truth’s shuriken-throwers opened up, followed by the Hunger’s; twin batteries of razor-sharp stars spraying from their flanks and shredding the curtain of curling leaves below. Severed branches crashed earthward, the chug!chug!chug!chug! of the ’throwers ringing over the rush of starving flames. Jubei thought he saw their quarry flitting amidst the undergrowth, a hail of gleaming death raining all around him. The Hunger’s marines were performing final weapons checks, readying to drop into the woods below. Flames to the south. Troops and spinning death from above. Ironclads overhead.
Jubei smiled to himself, surging flames reflected on metal skin. The rabbit had led them on a long chase, to be sure. But at last, his luck had come to an end.
The Scourge turned from the railing, grim satisfaction in his voice. “You may get to see Morcheba sooner than you—”
A flash of light.
Searing. Magnesium-white. It took a split second for the shock wave to catch up to the flare. Jubei saw the air around him grow brighter, highlights glinting on brass skin. And then came thunder—a shuddering, bone-shaking report sending Lady Izanami’s Hunger skidding sideways across the sky, engines wailing in soot-smeared protest. Jubei lost his balance, and to his shame, clutched the Scourge’s arm to stop himself falling.
A rush of superheated air. Tortured metal screaming, the hollow thudding booms of secondary explosions. Jubei turned, breath catching in his lungs, unable to comprehend what he was seeing.
The ironclad off their starboard. Void’s Truth. A complement of twenty Guild marines, twelve Lotusmen, four Artificers, six officers and thirty crew. All of them.
They were falling from the sky.
The inflatable was simply gone, a long, ragged fireball swelling within a blackened exoskeleton, great flaming hands reaching down to incinerate anything on her deck. Cables snapping, motors whining as she reared up under unrestrained thrust, bow pointing into the sky even as they plummeted earthward. The comms system was filled with screaming; tiny burning figures spilling over the railings and tumbling toward maws of rock hundreds of feet below. Jubei could see a few crewmen struggling with the aft lifeboat, bent low in terror. Another deafening explosion sounded as the Truth’s chi reserves ignited, her backside blew apart in a shower of blazing shrapnel, and she spun end over end toward her grave.
“What in the First Bloom’s name?” the Scourge bellowed into the comms system. “What hit us? Report!”
The Hunger’s crew was in chaos. Marines scrambling for the secondary shuriken-throwers. Shouted orders. Running feet. Fire teams on the dirigible yelling for target coordinates, lookouts aiming their telescopics through the billowing smoke, ashes falling like rain. Jubei saw the blue-white flare of rocket-trails through the haze off the starboard side; brothers who had survived the explosion and managed to engage their jet packs.
“There!” he yelled. “Survivors!”
The closest Shatei was forty feet from the Hunger’s railing when it took him. A flash of white amidst the smoke, the squealing crunch of ruptured metal, a strangled shout. And then Jubei saw the rocket pack flare and die, a haze of red, and the brother tumbled from the sky, the top half of his body struggling to keep pace with his legs.
“First Bloom, save us,” he whispered.
Jubei felt the Hunger shudder, heard a bass-thick crackling across blood-red skies. A sound that shivered the flesh inside his skin, rivets squealing, deck trembling under his feet like a child beneath his sheets in the thick, dead of night. The unmistakable roar of thunder. And yet, aside from the smoke, the skies around them were clear as polished glass …
“Battle stations!” the Scourge roared. “Battle stations!”
Jubei heard the shuriken-throwers arcing up again; a heavy chug!chug!chug!chug!, the hiss of pressurized gas, the clunking clatter of feeder belts. The sky around them sparkled with shards of razored steel, withering death sprayed blindly into the smoke. The mechabacus upon his chest spat a chattering spiel, confirmation requests from Chapterhouse Kigen flooding his inputs. His hands were shaking too hard to respond.
Screams again. Cries of “Contact! Contact!” A pinprick of flame off the stern. Jubei looked behind in time to see that same white silhouette skirting the Lotus Wind’s inflatable, talons rending the reinforced canvas of their sister ship like damp rice-paper.
The world held still for a fleeting second, the deathly hush between one heartbeat and the next. Jubei looked across the space between him and that white blur, a sky of spinning steel and acrid smoke, and in that tiny, fragile moment, he saw her: a black shape, long hair whipping in an ember wind, crouched between two metal wings on the back of an absolute impossibility. And as its long and terrible talons ripped the Wind’s inflatable asunder, he saw a flash of orange light in the girl’s hand, a tiny flame at the end of a handheld flare, tumbling from her fingertips toward the escaping hydrogen.
And then light. Rippling, deafening light.
The explosion rocked the Hunger on to her starboard, the shock wave sending four marines over the side and into the abyss. Fire blossomed, the Wind’s inflatable tearing apart like an overfull bladder, timbers snapping, choking smoke. The Scourge bellowing, the chatter of shuriken fire, the roar of wounded engines, the ironclad spinning like a child’s toy as the white shape swooped around and down the port side amidst a hail of ’thrower fire, taking the Wind’s engine off at her shoulder.
So fast. So impossibly fast.
“Concentrate fire! All ’throwers fire! FIRE!”
The shape wheeled away, keeping the Wind’s tumbling corpse between itself and the Hunger until it was well out of range, diving behind a towering knuckle of black mountain stone. Jubei heard a rumbling crash as the Wind hit bottom, flaring like a second sun as her chi tanks exploded, setting the autumn valley ablaze. The pilot was spinning the wheel beside him, the Hunger’s nose swinging towar...
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Book Description Thomas Dunne Books, New York, 2013. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. No Flaws or Blemishes; Gift Quality. Dust Jacket with price is in a new clear protective Mylar sleeve. First Edition, First Printing. 8vo; 442 pages with a glossary. ------- ¿Stormdancer is an intoxicating joyride into steampunklandia with a magical dose of mythology, the supernatural, violence, dystopian themes, and a top-notch brassy heroine who rivals Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games. Yes, I did say that!¿ ¿Huffington Post. Seller Inventory # 008647
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