Publisher: Palantir Press
Publishing Date: February 2016
Publishers Description: While Sorensen’s heroes and their steampunk dirigibles are fictional, she builds her rollicking adventure and culturally rich tale against the backdrop of the “real” historical Japan of that period, weaving historical figures into her story, staying true to their motivations and agendas even while warping their actions, history and a few laws of physics. Underpinning the adventure plot is a young man’s yearning for his father’s approval and an honorable place in the world. A tender love story, a rowdy collection of allies and emerging steampunk technology complete the mix as Tōru fights to transform Japan’s conservative society at the end of the Tokugawa sakoku isolation period.
Review: Amazeballs cover art!
This garnered quite a few high reviews from the private sector as well as the paid kind (Kirkus etc.). While billed as epic in scope I found this a bit contrived in terms of believability and read more like an alternative history novel rather than Steampunk.
The main character, Toru, is just too good to be true and never really develops into a character that you can either loathe or root for. He just…is. I liked the idea of the female character, Masuyo, as being strong coupled with intellectual prowess. Yet she read as one-dimensional and always carried around her mien like a paragon of virtue. Of course they are drawn to each other but can never be as she is highborn (Princess) and he is a fisherman with a secret, which usually translates to him being a Prince or some shjt.
The idea that feudal Japan can become industrialized within the span of a year to meet the Western threat is just fooking ridiculous. Dirigibles, submarines and trains are created with a herculean effort yet the details were lacking in this sudden creation of a new Japan. While Masuyo and Toru grind on your nerves for their extra speshulness, you are forced to swallow an alternative history that derives its existence from implausible and impossible acts.