Toru: Wayfarer Returns
by Stephanie R. Sorensen
GENRE: Historical Steampunk Fiction
A nation encircled by enemies
A noblewoman with everything to lose
A fisherman with everything to prove and a nation to save.
In Japan of 1852, the peace imposed by the Tokugawa Shoguns has lasted 250 years. Peace has turned to stagnation, however, as commoners grow impoverished and their lords restless. Swords rust. Martial values decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation’s closed borders like vultures.
Tōru, a shipwrecked young fisherman rescued by traders and taken to America, defies the Shogun’s ban on returning to Japan, determined to save his homeland from foreign invasion. Can he rouse his countrymen in time? Or will the cruel Shogun carry out his vow to execute all who set foot in Japan after traveling abroad? Armed only with his will, a few books, dirigible plans and dangerous ideas, Tōru must transform the Emperor’s realm before the Black Ships come.
“Omae wa dare da? Who are you? Whose ship is that? Why are you here?”
They forced Tōru to his knees.
He bowed down to the sand and spoke in the rough unhewn Japanese of a fisherman.
“Noble sirs, I am Tōru, of the village Iwamatsu, some days’ travel north of here. I was fishing with my father. A terrible storm destroyed our boat and cast us all into the sea. My father gave me a piece of wreckage to cling to as everything sank.”
Tōru struggled a moment, the words and flow of his native language catching on his lips after more than two years without a soul to speak with in Japanese. The memory of the storm and his last memory of his father that night rose up before him.
He steadied himself as the men listened intently, their swords never wavering from his throat, nor their gaze from his face.
He chose his next words carefully.
“That night was the last I saw my father. I was picked up by an American ship and taken to America.”
He bowed down to the sand again, easing between the blades.
“This night I am returning, to look after my mother. She has no other child to care for her, and no husband to feed her. The Americans brought me home, so I might do my duty by my mother and my people. I beg you, forgive me any crimes I may have committed by landing on your lord’s shore, and allow me please to return to my home.”
As he looked up into their eyes, he saw they would permit no such thing.
The book started out with an interesting concept. Toru claims to be a poor fisherman returning to his home. He is sentenced to death, but Lord Aya lets him stay alive to see his mother one last time. Along the way, we meet the spirited daughter, Masuyo. We also see that Toru is not exactly who he claims to be. Toru convinces Lord Aya that they need to prepare to be invaded by Britain and America. Lord Aya is convinced and they begin building trains and warships. This is where the book lagged for me. While very descriptive, I couldn’t get into this part where the action seemed to lag. Perhaps for someone who is interested in ancient Japan or Steampunk, this would not be the case, but it was for me. I found myself unable to finish the book. However, the writing was very good and descriptive. I would rank this book 4/5 stars because I believe it is a good book, just not one that piques my interest.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Stephanie is a writer based in the Victorian mining town of Leadville, Colorado, where she lives at 10,251 feet with her husband, five chickens, two bantam English game hens and one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. After a former life in big cities-New York City, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Boston, Mexico City, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Santa Fe-she now enjoys the birdsong and quiet writing time she finds in Leadville. Her first novel draws on her experience living and working in Japan; her next historical novel is set in Mexico where she also lived for several years. As a Leadville local, she likes her Victorian attire spiced with a little neo-Victorian futurism and the biggest bustle possible.
Recognition for “Toru: Wayfarer Returns”
— Finalist, Fantasy category, 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
— Bronze Medal Award, Multicultural Fiction category, 2016 eLit Book Awards
Author website http://stephaniersorensen.com/
Author Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011148014463
Publisher website http://palantirpress.com/
Publisher Facebook https://www.facebook.com/people/Sassa-Margot/100010457895534
Publisher Twitter https://twitter.com/SassaMargot
Historical Novel Society review https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/toru-wayfarer-returns-sakura-steam-series-book-1/
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
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Lorana Hoopes is a Christian author who focuses on children’s book and adult inspirational books with a touch of romance.Her books are available at Amazon.