Dying is easy. Anyone can throw themselves onto the pyre and rest a happy martyr. Enduring the suffering that comes with sacrifice is the real test.
Remember, kids. Don't endanger forests and animals. Or this girl will kill you. And eat your soul.
A 2012 fantasy novel by Jay Kristoff, first in the planned trilogy of The Lotus War
A feudal steampunk Japan. The Shima Islands have gone to the dogs. Toxic fuel is wrecking the environment, a religious group called The Lotus Guild is executing those they deem "impure," and the place is ruled by a selfish, power-hungry shogun. He sends two warriors out to capture a thunder tiger (A.K.A. a griffin) for him. One is Masaru, the shogun's chief hunt master, and the other is Yukiko, Masaru's daughter and the heroine of the story. As far as Masaru and Yukiko are concerned, they've been banished, as Griffins are supposedly extinct, thanks to the copious pollution. But no matter how impossible the task given, if you fail it, the shogun will execute you. Suddenly, though, Yukiko ended up separated from her dad and wandered alone in the wilderness. Then, she saved the life of a griffin named Buruu in need of her help, since its wings were broken and it was unable to fly.
Meanwhile, Masaru is accused of treason and imprisoned, and Yukiko has to rescue him. But unfortunately, she's in for a hard, dangerous road. Although she rescued Buruu, he feels a deep contempt for her, making it hard for them to work as a team. Making matters worse, her ability to telepathically speak with animals puts her on the Lotus Guild's most wanted list. To save her father, as well as take down the shogun and the Lotus Guild, she must gain Buruu's trust and enlist the aid of several allies, in order to save her homeland from chaos and corruption.
The sequel, Kinslayer
, is now out.
Provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Yukiko
- Brother-Sister Incest: The Shogun has the hots for his sister.
- Burn the Witch!
- The Caligula: The Shogun is not a nice person. Nor is he a sane one. He's also a rapist, he brutally abuses even the women who have consensual sex with him, and he had ordered Yukiko's mother to be executed just for politely asking to release her husband from duty as the royal huntmaster.
- Chainsaw Katanas Are Just Better: You never thought it would be possible, did you?
- Crapsack World: The Shima Islands with those religous Lotus loonys, the overflowing pollution, and a selfish shogun.
- Gaia's Lament: The sky is red, the rain is black (and acidic), ever-growing amounts of land are too poisoned by Blood Lotus to grow anything, and most animal species have been driven to extinction by pollution or killed to fertilize the Lotus fields
- Deconstruction: Steampunk tech would ruin the environment. Guess what's happened?
- Fantastic Drug: Blood Lotus tea and smokes. It kinda gives the impression that almost everybody's on weed to distract themselves from how shit things are.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Shima Islands are Japan; the "gaijan" seem Germanic, given that they're stereotyped as blue eyed, blonde haired people wearing furs.
- Forever War: The newscasts constantly announce that final victory over the gaijan barbarians is at hand. They've been saying that for twenty years.
- Government Drug Enforcement: Lotus is smoked recreationally and available cheaply thanks to Guild subsidies. The smoke from the chi extract used in engines has a similar effect.
- Green Aesop: Pollution for the sake of industry and technology is a huge part of the story.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Buruu's cry when he wakes up in a cage is enough to burst eardrums.
- Meaningful Name: "Yukiko" is Japanese for "Rare Child," and this could be attributed to her rare ability to telepathically communicate with animals.
- Mega Corp., by way of Cult: The Lotus Guild.
- Multipurpose Monocultured Crop: Blood Lotus. Medicine from its sap, tea and cigarettes from it's leaves, rope and canvas from it's stems, and fuel from its seeds. Subverted in that its absolutely horrible for both people and the environment.
- It's also implied to literally come from Yomi
- One-Way Visor: Lotusmen Artificiers.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child / Empire With A Dark Secret: The Blood Lotus that powers all the technology in use is an addictive narcrotic when burned and inflicts massive enviromental devestation that the Shogunate and Lotus Guild are unsuccessfully covering up. More successfully, they hid that it's called Blood Lotus because keeping it from ruining soil requires the blood of mammals. Now that they're out of wildlife, they're using prisoners of war
- Polluted Wasteland: See Gaias Lament.
- Power Armor: The Iron Samurai take their name from their steampunk power armor. The Lotus Guild wears their own version constantly, calling it skin. Guild armor has all sorts of advanced gear like jetpacks and radios built in, integrated life support, and weapons capable of killing groups of Iron Samurai, as well as being tough enough to withstand chainkatanas
- Shout-Out: The Lotus must bloom
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Yukiko. People with this ability are hunted down and rituallistically executed by the Guild (See burn the witch).
- Trailers Always Spoil: the back cover gives away that the Impossible Task the Shogun sends Yukiko and her family on just barely succeeds. Although, since this makes up the first third of the book, it also counts as First Episode Spoiler.
- Vader Breath: Given the prevalence of gas masks in the setting, too many to count are described as "breath hissing though filter pipes".
- Zeppelins from Another World