5 Stars well deserved for TŌRU: WAYFARER RETURNS by Stephanie R. Sorensen – BOOK REVIEW



Author: Stephanie R. Sorensen

Type of Book: Softcover

Genre: Alternate Historical Fiction 

Length: 257 pages

ISBN: 978-0-9969323-1-8

Price: $16.95 

Publisher: Palantir Press 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

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 the commoners grow impoverished and their lords restless. Swords rust. Martial virtues decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation’s closed borders like vultures. 

Tōru, a shipwrecked fisherman rescued by American traders, defies the Shogun’s ban on returning to Japan, determined to save his homeland. 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. 

Firstly, I feel compelled to talk about the absolutely stunning cover of this book. It is gorgeous, and obviously I am not the only one who thinks so. The cover won a gold star award from the Book Designer website. 

There will probably be some debate as to exactly what genre this book belongs. Is it Alternate Historical Fiction? Is it Steampunk? Is it somehow both? Or neither? My answer to those questions is that it is all of the above. With the addition of dirigibles, it clearly enters the realm of Steampunk, but since it is set in an actual period of our world’s history, this takes it away from the Steampunk genre and instead into the realm of alternate historical fiction. All in all, the genre does not really matter. It is the story that matters and the story is superb.  
The action begins on the very first page of this book, as does the reader’s love affair with the character of Tōru. 

Anyone who knows anything at all about historic Japan knows that it is a history filled with culture and customs that can be difficult for even the most seasoned writer to navigate. The fact that this is author Stephanie R. Sorensen’s first published novel and that she has done such a tremendous job of bringing the Victorian Japanese era to life while still preserving the dignity and love of Emperor and Country to life is nothing short of brilliant. 

Purists may disagree, but I loved this book. The way the author chose to use actual historic facts, policies and people as the basis for creating a new and radically different history is awe-inspiring. 

This is a book that needs to be read. There are many ideas in it’s pages that reflect some modern day dilemmas. Tōru not only wants to protect Japan from being overthrown by the Americans, he loves his homeland deeply and wants to improve the lives of it’s people. 

Tōru not only brought new technologies to Japan, but he also brought new ideas, and not just about industrial and Militaria change, he wanted to see societal change as well. 

For a culture that had not changed in centuries, it was difficult to accept the new technologies, but it was even more difficult to accept that change to their way of life was also necessary for Japan to thrive as a nation. 

“You need the lowly as well as the great made strong and educated and committed to strengthening our country.” 

These words may have been quoted from this work of fiction, but that does not make them any less true. Maybe it is time that the leaders of both the United States and Canada listened to Tōru – The Wayfarer. I’m 100% sure that there are lessons in this book that relate to us all. 

This is the first book in the “Sakura Steam Series”. I am now following author Stephanie R. Sorensen on Goodreads and Amazon as well as on her website because I will be eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. 

I am eager to find out what happens next, not only with the Japanese country as a whole, but also what happens in the lives of Tōru, Masuyo, Jiro, Lords Aya and Tōmatsu, Lord Abe and even the Shogun and the distant Emperor. Whatever happens, I am convinced that it will be entertaining and extremely well written. 

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
* I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free did not influence my rating in any way. 

Stephanie R. Sorensen is a writer based in the Victorian mining town of Leadville, Colorado, where she lives at 10,000 feet with her husband, five chickens, two bantam English game hens and one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She likes Her Victorian attire spiced with a little Neo-Victorian futurism and the biggest bustle possible. 

To sign up for news of future books by the author or to contact her, visit http://www.stephaniersorensen.com  

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