During the first pages, I was so confused. And then in the pages after that, I got less confused, but more disappointed. Where was the pow-wow part? Where was the griffin? The awesome protagonist? I was really worried I was going to have to slug through the whole book.
But then, I met the griffin (arashitora). And after that moment, I was completely sucked into the book. Right up until the very end, where I was like "How am I going to wait for the next one to come out?!" I miss Buruu and Yukiko already....
Yukiko is a Japanese girl. She is the daughter of the Master of Hunters, which is a kind of stupid title, since there aren't many animals to hunt anymore. But then, they receive an order to hunt an arashitora, a thunder-tiger (a griffin). But aren't the arashitora all extinct? Well, apparently not... Yukiko meets an arashitora who she names Buruu, and after a while, becomes very close friends with him. But while they are out of the city, they meet some rebels and learn what honour and fighting really means...
I think the random switch of POVs was sometimes confusing. Kristoff should have at least waited until the end of the chapter to switch to another person's view. I suppose it was to make something easier to understand or something, but still. Sometimes it was confusing and a little annoying.
I love Buruu. He was my favourite character, by far. At first we see him as nothing more than an animal, but as Yukiko becomes friends with him, her humanness starts to rub off on him. He was funny in his own way, and he really cared about Yukiko.
Yukiko was a brilliant protagonist. Her growth was subtle, yet astounding. We see her begin to understand the true meaning of honour, and sacrifice, and that was brilliant. As Buruu said, and she comes to understand: "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."
Yukiko and Buruu's closeness was brilliant as well. We see Buruu at first only helping her to repay a debt, then we see his gradual acceptance of the "monkey-child", and then we see them develop such a close relationship it is like they are siblings. I was so sad when Buruu obeyed the evil guy just so Yukiko would be safe. My favourite quote of his was "Feathers grow back. Sisters do not." Very heartwarming. We could feel Yukiko's angst for Buruu when his wings were clipped, and Buruu's fear for Yukiko when she was about to die.
The romance was also well-handled. Yukiko chides herself for thinking of the cute boy when she should be worrying about her friends, and when they are united, she feels guilty for enjoying their time when she should be rescuing her father. She also doesn't let her boy problems get in the way of her determination, something we should probably thank Buruu for. She never lets her feelings come before the greater good, and when faced with a betrayal, she puts her feelings aside and does what needs to be done. She does enjoy the love while she can, but it never becomes something that takes over herself. Well done, Yukiko.
All in all, Stormdancer is a brilliant book that has just everything it takes to make me happy, mythical creatures, a kick-butt heroine who is not love-sick, a hateful evil guy, rebellion, and an amazing cover. :P
WARNING: There are a couple of rude words in this book, and a few mentions of inappropriateness.