Something Wicked Strikes Day #29! Only two more days of terrific giveaways and guest posts. I promise I am ending things on a bang here. Today's post is fantastic. First, though, let's see what the other bloggers have in store:
Maja @The Nocturnal Library: Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake
I am thrilled to have Jay Kristoff back on the blog today. Another fan girl moment here..... Jay captured my heart and imagination back in 2012 with his first novel, Stormdancer. Since then, I have been an avid fan of his Lotus War Trilogy. I am so excited that Jay is guest posting here again today. He writes amazing guest posts. Alright enough chat, let's meet Jay:
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. He is the author of the Lotus War Trilogy. He does not believe in happy endings. You can stalk Jay on his website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
(Photo credit: Christopher Tovo
Jay is here talking about the villains he fears most......
What villains whether real or paranormal scare you the most?
What villains scare me the most? Great question. The answer’s an easy one—the villains who don’t think they’re villains. That goes for book and real life, too. The most effective (and scariest) villains are always the ones who look in the mirror and don’t see the bad guy. They see the hero of the story.
I mean, there are bad people who do bad things, and don’t pretend to be doing anything otherwise. Some people go out on a Saturday night looking for a fight. Some people want to blow up the world with a Death Ray. These folks are bad, but at the very least, they’re honest.
On the other hand, you have cops who shoot unarmed kids under the guise of “protecting the community”. You have people invading other countries under the banner of “freedom”. You have people of one belief trying to eradicate people who belief something different and calling it “holy war”. The scary thing with people like this is that they don’t see themselves as the bad guy. They honestly think they’re doing the right thing, or the wrong thing but for the right reasons. That the end justifies the means.
Problem is, if you don’t see yourself as the villain of the piece, there’s no talking you out of what you’re doing. If you think you’re doing right—be that stealing citizens of another nation and processing them into fertilizer to make your own nation stronger, or fighting a war to secure your own nation’s oil supplies no matter the cost to the people you’re fighting against—then you’re going to see the people trying to stop you as the villains.
You’ll look in the mirror and see yourself the hero.
Take a character like Walter White from Breaking Bad—this is a guy who becomes an absolute monster, but he starts out with the best of intentions. As he devolves further and further from a hero we’re rooting for into the villain in his own show, he convinces himself every step of the way that all the horrible stuff he’s doing is done for the sake of his family. It’s a lie of course, but it’s one he tells himself so constantly, he can’t help but believe it. How much scarier is Walter White than a moustache-twirling villain of the week?
In the Lotus War, you’ve got a guy like Hiro. He betrays Yukiko, he throws in with the Lotus Guild and is all set to force Lady Aisha to marry him, he’s willing to tear the entire country to pieces in civil war and continue the Guild’s war against the gaijin, and he tells himself he’s doing it for the sake of honor. That his lord was murdered and he needs to avenge him. His real motivation is his love/hate of Yukiko, of course, but he tells himself it’s all about concepts like loyalty. And the belief that he’s doing the right thing, and that everyone else is wrong, makes him capable of just about any depravity you can name.
And then there’s Kin . . . but yeah, I won’t go there, because spoilers. ☺
Villains who see themselves as the heroes. The scariest villains of them all.
Jay's post is so true. I can think of countless people currently and in the past who are in leadership positions, and I am sure they believe they are doing the right thing, but in reality they are harming so many people. Especially when they become fanatical or megalomanic and lose sight of themselves.
A huge thanks to Jay for posting again with me today. I cannot recommend his Lotus War Trilogy enough. It is sophisticated, smart and thrilling. I hope you all check it out. In the meantime, the good folks at St. Martin's Press are allowing me to offer a chance to win a copy of Endsinger, the final book in the series to one lucky winner. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. To enter please read the Contest Policies and fill out the Rafflecopter. Good Luck.
Here is my review:
Endsinger (Lotus War #3) by Jay Kristoff
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 won't do to keep her children by her side.
Five stars: An emotional upheaval and a breathtaking ending.
Yukiko and Buruu are preparing for the firestorm of war. As Hiro gathers his forces, bent on destroying the girl he once loved in the name of the deceased Shogun, the country trembles. Rebels emerge from all corners of the land, including some in unexpected places. Yukiko gains new allies, and loses others all while she struggles to lead a nation, protect her great gift and shoulder her heartbreak as she was betrayed by both the men she loves. Yet amidst the strife and turmoil, she gathers strength from her dearest friend Buruu, but Buruu has his own heartbreaking secrets to share. Can Yukiko and Buruu save Shima?
What I Loved:
- I am still struggling to find the words to describe this incredibly emotional read. I went into this final volume with extreme trepidation as I know that Mr. Kristoff does not believe in happy endings. He tore my heart out a few times in Kinslayer so I was expecting the worst. Did my heart break? Yes. Did I cry? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely! If you are a fan of this series, this book will answer your questions, tear your heart out, and then gently sew in a few stitches to start the healing. Shakes fist at Jay Kristoff... Dang you! You made me cry!
- How do I put into words the emotion I felt while reading this? I will try. This is a painfully dark read at times, yet there are brief flashes of such pure love and beauty that helped balances the darkness. My emotions were on a fast track roller coaster from beginning to end. I loved seeing my favorite duo continue to grow closer together as they fought to unite the country for war. Their bond is intense, strong and beautiful, it endures all the heartache and pain of Buruu's past and the violence of the present. It gets you through the horrors of war, and the endless deaths of characters I have grown to love. Yes, there are many painful deaths, but as Mr. Kristoff says, "At least I didn't kill the puppy..." Many friends are lost, but in the end, the book culminates into a strong, emotional and impactful ending that left me sad and happy at the same time. So even though Mr. Kristoff says he doesn't believe in happy endings, he delivered an ending that gave me hope and one that I can live with. All I can say is grab some tissues and prepare for heartache.
- The plot is intense and there is so much going on. This novel has a large cast of characters and multiple view points. It is hard to keep track of everything, but Mr. Kristoff provides the reader with an awesome recap at the beginning of the book titled: Lotus War Character Refresher Who the Hells Are All These People? This was an absolute life saver going into this book because it has been a year since I read Kinslayer and my memory is foggy. In this section, each character is listed and there is a brief snippet on what happened to them prior to the start of book three. I referred back to this numerous time as I was getting my feet on the ground. I so appreciated that this recap was provided or I would likely have struggled trying to recall everything.
- As I mentioned, there are many characters to keep track of and multiple view points. At first, I felt like I was drowning with all the information, then about a quarter of the way in, everything started to click into place and the story took hold and it all began to make sense. This one requires a bit of patience as it takes awhile to get everything in place, but once it hits its stride, it is one hell of a read.
- This is one intense read with all the twists and reveals. All my questions were answered and I learned the truth about Buruu's painful past and why he is called Kinslayer. The horrible secrets about the Lotus Guild come to light, and there are some betrayals, sacrifices and the redemption of one who was labeled a betrayer. I was in awe at some of the surprises. For all of you who have been patiently awaiting answers, this book delivers. I was so happy that I didn't have any lingering questions at the end.
- Even though the ending was bitter sweet, it was beautiful and hopeful and full of emotion, well worth the journey. So even though Mr. Kristoff made me cry, I will forgive him because I closed the book hopeful and satisfied.
And The Not So Much:
- This book was so painful to read at times. I had my heart in my throat throughout, and there were moments when I was hesitant to go on as I knew heartbreak loomed on the horizon. There are many violent scenes and lots of deaths. It was tough to read, and the ending was almost too much, but thankfully, Mr. Kristoff redeems himself after the dust settles with a satisfactory ending.
- The first portion of the book is slow going as there is so much information to wade through and make sense of. I struggled a bit immersing myself into the story as there were so many characters and view points to absorb. I didn't like that the view points rapidly shifted sometimes leaving me reeling. Still even though there is so much to take in, once it all starts to make sense, it works. This book requires time and patience but it is worth it in the end.
- When the first book, Stormdancer , was released this series was originally placed in the YA category. I noticed that Kinslayer and Endsinger are not labeled as YA which is good because even though the heroine, Yukiko is barely seventeen, this is not a YA series. It is smart, complex, violent and best suited for mature readers. If you are an adult, do not skip over this series thinking it is YA. This is definitely adult reading.
Endsinger is an intense, emotional, heartbreaking read. It was strong and satisfactory ending to an amazing series. Mr Kristoff puts your emotions through the wringer with this one, and it is hard to take at times. Still it is an amazing ending to one of my favorite series. If you have yet to experience The Lotus War Trilogy, I urge you to set aside some time and dive in. Mr Kristoff has earned a place on my favorite authors list, and I will continue to read everything he writes, even if he does make me cry.
"An avalanche starts with one pebble. A forest with one seed. And it takes one word to make the whole world stop and listen. All you need is the right one."
"You can be anything you want. Fate deals us our hand, but we decide how to play it. All of us chose the people we want to be."
"ONLY FOOLS KNOW WHAT IT IS TO BE FEARLESS. SEEK ONLY TO BE AFRIAD AND STAND TALL ANYWAY. THAT IS WHAT IT IS TO BE BRAVE."
"Dark now. Blacker than black, I know it. And words are tiny things in the face of all that dark and all that cold. But hear these words, little sister. Hear and know. Tomorrow is coming, just as fast as the turning of the sky. And as sure as it's black now, the sun will rise. Always. No matter how faint the glow."
"No one who is loved dies alone."
"The truth is, the abyss lives in us. In our greed. In the way we look at things different to us, and see things lesser. In the way we see the smaller, or the weaker, and think them prey. It begins with the beasts of the land, the birds of the sky. And in a blinking, different gods. Different creeds. We see them as lessers, and we hurt, and we kill, and we think nothing of it. Because they are different, we think ourselves just. Because we are stronger, we think ourselves righteous."
"We choose this. This place. This life. What it will be, and how we live it. We are not slaves to gods, or fate, or destinies woven in veils of smoke. We choose the people we want to be, and we choose the shape of the world in which we live. Nothing worthwhile comes without sacrifice. There is nothing so easy as swimming with the current, nothing so difficult as being the first to stand up. To say no. To point at a thing wrong and name it so. There are none so brave as those who choose to stand, when all others are content to kneel. None so worthy of the title 'hero' as those who fight when there are none to see. Who choose a life bereft of accolade or fanfare, a life of struggle for the idea that we are all the same. Every one of us. And every one of us has the right to be happy. To know peace. To know love."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
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