At the end of Stormdancer (book one of The Lotus War series), chaos is reigning. Yoritomo-no-miya, Seii Taishogun of the Shima Isles, is dead, and he has no heir. The other clans look at the throne with hunger, making plans and hurtling the entire country towards civil war.

As Kinslayer begins, Yukiko and Buruu, her thunder tiger (what we would call a gryphon), are now seen as heroes of the Kagé rebellion. As Yukiko struggles with the death of her father, her power to hear the thoughts of other living things has begun to grow erratic and dangerous. More concerning is the fact that Yukiko may be losing control, making her a threat to anyone or anything living near enough to her to be affected.

Kin, the Guildsman who committed treason to help Yukiko and Buruu escape from Yoritomo, has escaped from the Guild’s retribution only to find himself the object of suspicion, derision and scorn from the members of the Kagé rebellion.

And the Lotus Guild, the true controlling power behind the tiger throne, has conspired to enact a scheme to eradicate the rebellion and seize control of the Shima Imperium from the vying factions for its own sinister purposes--a scheme that could be the undoing of all the clans and the destruction of the Shima Isles themselves, proving without question that the Guild will stop at nothing to maintain its control.

In Kinslayer, author Jay Kristoff shows the aftermath and consequences of the actions portrayed in Stormdancer. While the immediate goal in the first book was the overthrow of the mad shogun Yoritomo, but once that had been accomplished it became clear that there were greater foes to Shima’s freedom and that his ouster was, in actuality, only a first step. In Kinslayer, Kristoff deepens the reader’s connections to familiar characters and introduces new and compelling ones who will surely become integral in the coming Lotus War.

While Kinslayer does end with the requisite unresolved issues that will wrap up in the last volume, there are enough revelations and plot developments to make it incredibly satisfying. Indeed, with deeper characterizations and a more complex plot (and with greater stakes for all involved), Kinslayer is the unusual middle book in a trilogy that is a stronger and more compelling read than the first.

The final volume in The Lotus War series, Endsinger, is scheduled for release in the fall of 2014.