I've read a lot of positive reviews about Stormdancer, and honestly, I was concerned it wouldn't live up to the hype. The beginning of the book didn't help - the first several chapters are very heavy on the world-building, and I'll admit that as I read, I felt a bit...restless. I even thought, once or twice, of putting the book aside. It's not that I disliked what I reading - I just wanted more, y'know? A story that really gripped me. Boy, did I get one! Stormdancer is set in a unique fantasy/dystopian world with strong Japanese cultural & mythological influences. The world itself is dying, poisoned by the toxic lotus plant. The air is polluted, the animals are dead or dying. The people are oppressed, crushed beneath the weight of the Shogun & the Guild's combined authority. Life, as it is, seems hopeless...rather like the mission Yukiko and her father are sent on, to find and capture the legendary arashitora, the thunder tiger. The Shogun has dreamed of riding the arashitora into glorious battle, of finally claiming victory over his enemies, and he is determined to make that dream a reality. Never mind that all the beasts of legend only exist now in stories. What the Shogun commands, Yukiko and the other hunters must do. Or else. So off they go; the hunt begins. For me, that's when Stormdancer really took off. I was hooked. I won't summarize everything that happens in the book - it would take too long and frankly, others have already done it so much better than I ever could. What I can tell you is how much I loved it. It's such a vibrantly written tale, so rich with emotion and evocative images. The scenes between Yukiko and the arashitora, Buruu, were especially memorable. I didn't just read their connection; I felt it. Kin was another particular favorite. He grabbed my attention in his first scene and didn't let go. I wish he'd had more page time but I can't complain too much - he was there when it mattered, and I'm hopeful he'll play an even bigger, better role in book 2. In short, my friends, this is an amazing book and if you haven't read it yet, you ought to. 5 out of 5 stars.