Tiger Honor |Book Tour & Review

TIGER HONOR Blog Tour

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the TIGER HONOR by Yoon Ha Lee Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway! 

About The Book:

Title: TIGER HONOR (Thousand Worlds #2)

Author: Yoon Ha Lee

Pub. Date: January 4, 2022

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Pages: 256

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle,  AudibleB&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Yoon Ha Lee’s companion to the best-selling and award-winning DRAGON PEARL, another space opera inspired by Korean mythology, this time told from the point of view of a nonbinary tiger spirit.

“A zesty mix of Korean folklore, magic, and science fiction that will leave you longing for more adventures in the Thousand Worlds!”–Rick Riordan, intro to DRAGON PEARL

“With crisp dialogue, a winning protagonist and a propulsive plot, this tale is enormously entertaining.”–New York Times Book Review of DRAGON PEARL

Sebin, a young tiger spirit from the Juhwang Clan, wants nothing more than to join the Thousand World Space Forces and, like their Uncle Hwan, captain a battle cruiser someday. But when Sebin’s acceptance letter finally arrives, it’s accompanied by the shocking news that Hwan has been declared a traitor. Apparently the captain abandoned his duty to steal a magical artifact, the Dragon Pearl, and his whereabouts are still unknown. Sebin hopes to help clear their hero’s name and restore honor to the clan.

Nothing goes according to plan, however. As soon as Sebin arrives for orientation, they are met by a special investigator named Yi and Yi’s assistant, a girl named Min. Yi informs Sebin that they must immediately report to the ship Haetae and await further instructions. Sebin finds this highly unusual, but soon all protocol is forgotten when there’s an explosion on the ship, the crew is knocked out, and the communication system goes down. It’s up to Sebin, three other cadets, and Yi and Min to determine who is sabotaging the battle cruiser. When Sebin is suddenly accused of collaborating with the enemy, the cadet realizes that Min is the most dangerous foe of all…

Yoon Ha Lee brilliantly turns the tables on DRAGON PEARL in another unputdownable sci-fi adventure about what honor really means.

Grab book 1, DRAGON PEARL NOW!

Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this read, to the point of I’ll definitely be getting book 1 even they can be read as standalones.

About Yoon Ha Lee:

Yoon Ha Lee (yoonhalee.com) is the New York Times best-selling author of Dragon Pearl, a companion to this book and winner of the Locus Award and the Mythopoeic Award. He has also published several books for adults, including a standalone fantasy entitled Phoenix Extravagant, and the Machineries of Empire space opera trilogy: Ninefox Gambit, Raven Strategem, and Revenant Gun. Yoon draws inspiration from a variety of sources, e.g. Korean history and mythology, fairy tales, higher mathematics, classic moral dilemmas, and genre fiction. His website can be found at yoonhalee.com and his Twitter handle is @deuceofgears.

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Giveaway Details: 

3 winners will receive a finished copy of TIGER HONOR, US Only.

Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba21384/?

PROLOGUE

Juhwang Sebin, Cadet, 1728-99746. 

Name, rank, and serial number. That’s all I’m supposed to say if I’m captured. 

Every member of the Thousand Worlds Space Forces  knows that, even one as junior as I am. 

It’s a little ludicrous to worry about that, though, because  the few people still active on this ship know who I am and what  I’ve done. And those who put me here are my comrades. You’re  nothing but a traitor was the last thing Min said to me as she left  me locked up in this cell. 

The others don’t need to be told what my name is, or any  of that. They’re perfectly aware that I’m a tiger spirit from the  Juhwang Clan on the world of Yonggi, and that I’m responsible  for the pickle we’re all in. 

Beyond that, there are more complications. I’m a prisoner  on my own ship, the battle cruiser Haetae. We’re still in transit  through a Gate, and I don’t know how much more time we have  until we emerge on the other end. 

I have, however, had ample opportunity to inspect the brig.  The cell is approximately three meters square. Walls of bland 

gray metal, toilet and sink in the corner, physical bars instead  of a force field. A smart precaution, considering that the last  time I checked, half the power systems on the Haetae were  knocked out. 

In this cell there’s a strip of faint lights running on backup  power. I don’t know how long they’ll last. At least, as a tiger  spirit, I have good vision even in dim illumination. I hope it’s  enough. 

Just in case, though, I’ve memorized the layout of everything I can see, and I tried my best to memorize the maps of  the ship that I was shown earlier, which included the restricted  areas. I might be able to use that information—if only I can  get out. 

The other cells in this row are empty. Even if I couldn’t  see into them, my senses of smell and hearing would have told  me that. It’s almost a relief that it’s just me here and not some  additional unfortunates as well. 

Besides, having to free other people would slow me down.  Not a nice thing to think about, but everything has crystallized  into hard practicalities. After all, if I don’t stop the people who  have fallen under the evil spell of a monster, we all thought extinct, everyone on this ship is doomed. 

I test the bars. They’re specially reinforced to hold super naturals like me. Goblins and dragons, to say nothing of tigers,  are all stronger than the ordinary humans who make up the  greatest part of the Thousand Worlds’ population. 

Brute-forcing my way out of this cell isn’t going to work,  even if I changed from my human form into my native tiger  shape. There’s enough space for me as a tiger, barely, but claws  wouldn’t put a dent in this metal.

People have always seen my kind as excellent fighters.  There’s some truth to that. My family emphasized training and  discipline when I was growing up. 

But tigers aren’t just fighters. In the oldest stories, we’re  known for our cunning, too. Some of us are more cunning than  others. If I’d been smarter, maybe I could have avoided getting  trapped in here by the people I thought were my friends. Who  might yet be my friends, if I can free them from the monster . . . 

There’s only one person I can count on now, assuming he  finds me before the monster subverts him—or returns for me. While I’m trapped, I suppose I ought to reflect on how this  all began, and how I started on the path that led to this cell. . . .

ONE

When the mail arrived, it should have been the best day of my life. 

Mail—physical mail—came once a week at  

best. The Juhwang Clan of tiger spirits had made our home  on the world of Yonggi for the past several centuries. Our ties  to the land dated back to the steaders who settled this planet  back when traveling between stars took decades, or even centuries. My grandmother, the Matriarch of the clan, claimed  she could remember what the world had looked like before it  was terraformed, when it was a ball of mud and toxic sludge.  “Back then there was no mail,” she always said, her tail swishing  ominously. “No food, no medical supplies, no fuel—nothing.  That was before the Thousand Worlds came together, and you  couldn’t ever rely on anyone but family.” 

But when our home security system announced that the  mail had been dropped off, all I cared about was whether there  was anything for me. I’d been obsessed with the mail for the  past three months, ever since I’d applied to the Space Forces  Cadet Program.

Normally you could only join the Space Forces at the age  of fifteen, but due to raids at the Thousand Worlds’ borders,  they’d started recruiting younger cadets to accustom them—me,  I hoped—to the rigors of space travel at an earlier age. They  especially welcomed applicants with supernatural natures  suited to the service, such as goblins, celestials, and tigers, like  me. Even if I hadn’t already been eager to join, the Matriarch  would have encouraged it. It’s important for us to build our power  base, she’d said mysteriously. 

Every time the mail arrived, I hovered over it in hopes of  the coveted response, maybe even an acceptance letter. And  every time the response failed to arrive, I consoled myself  by reading more of the Space Forces handbook so I would be  ready the next day, just in case. 

My aunt Sooni was the only one who didn’t laugh at the  way I was fixated on the mail. Aunt was approximate—she was  at least a hundred years older than me. (Tiger spirits don’t age  the same way humans do.) Aunt Sooni’s understanding was the  only thing that made it bearable to be the youngest in the clan. 

We were in the middle of some martial arts exercises that  involved shifting between human and tiger form to dodge  attacks when the mail drop arrived. Aunt Sooni was an orange and-black blur as a tiger, and a gray one as a human. I, too,  was an orange tiger, unlike my favorite relative, Uncle Hwan,  who visited when he could. He was a rare white tiger, and I  often wished I had been born that color. It was because of Uncle  Hwan that I longed to be accepted by the Space Forces—to  someday become a battle cruiser captain just like him. 

“Focus, Sebin!” Aunt Sooni called when I stopped in mid exercise and turned toward the mailbox in my eagerness to pounce on the mail. “Remember discipline. Discipline is the  most important thing. You have to finish the set.” I mock-snarled at her. She cuffed me lightly on the shoulder, not hard enough to hurt, but with enough force to remind  me of her supernatural strength. Even in her human form, that  of a short, stocky woman with touches of frost in her hair, she  could wrangle a fellow tiger. I’d learned that the hard way. With a growl, I condensed back into my human shape. At  thirteen I was already taller than she was, if only by a mere  inch. (Half inch, according to her. I always said we should  round up, and she only shook her head.) 

“All right,” I said, resigned, because I knew Aunt Sooni was  perfectly capable of snatching the mail and hiding it from me  until I had performed my exercises to her satisfaction. 

“Just for that,” she said, and this time I knew to suppress my  groan, “we’ll add some high kicks. Go!” 

Approximately four million kicks later, my legs burned  with the exertion and Aunt Sooni declared herself satisfied  with my efforts. “You know it’s important to stay in shape,” she  said. “We have standards to uphold.” 

I wasn’t so much concerned with the Space Forces’ standards as my own family’s expectations. We were the Juhwang  Clan of Yonggi, after all, and, as the Matriarch liked to remind  us, we had to be prepared in case our enemies moved against  us, even if I’d never so much as witnessed an attack on the  estate. Right now, that meant making sure I did all the exercises as perfectly as possible. 

As much as my body hurt, I ached to sprint to the mailbox. My family had indulged me by letting me check the mail  for the last month. Normally I don’t reward moping, my mother’s nonbinary mate, my nini, had said in their usual dry tone, but  perhaps a little is understandable under the circumstances. Still, I didn’t want Aunt Sooni to think of me as an irresponsible tiger cub, so I walked at her side. It was a good chance  to recover my breath, anyway. If I was accepted, I’d have to do  more than just make a good impression on my family. I was  determined to excel in the Space Forces, maybe even outshine  Uncle Hwan someday. 

To reach the mailbox, we had to cross the estate’s outer  courtyard. Both the inner and outer courtyards, each spacious  enough for tigers to roam in, were bright with flowers, cultivated by my parents and some of the others from time to time.  You wouldn’t think that tigers would care about gardening. But,  as my mother liked to tell me, we thrived in nature, whether  that meant overgrown groves of bamboo or the graceful sweep  of willow branches. The art of gardening consisted of arranging  plants, so they looked like they had grown in the wild, except  more picturesque. 

I appreciated the gardens, but I yearned to leave the planet  and see other worlds. I could watch the holo programs, which  depicted everything from fantastical ruins to the extreme temperatures on tidally locked planets in other systems, where one  hemisphere was in eternal day and the other in eternal night.  But it would be so much better to visit those places myself ! And  my best chance of doing that was getting into the Space Forces. 

“Here we are,” Aunt Sooni called as the mailbox came into  sight. It was shaped like a miniature pagoda whose roof came  off if you worked a cunningly hidden latch. I loved everything  about it, even its absurdity. 

More intriguingly, someone had left a package at its base. 

That couldn’t be for me, but I was curious about it anyhow. Aunt Sooni, taking advantage of my distraction, added,  “Race you!” and shimmered into her tiger form as she sprang  into action. I did likewise, reveling in the fact that I became  stronger and swifter in my native shape. As a tiger, you couldn’t  tell I was thirteen years old. I looked almost adult, complete  with a fine orange pelt and deep black stripes, and a long,  long tail. 

Perhaps it wasn’t strictly fair that Aunt Sooni had started  the race before I’d had a chance to shift. But one thing my  family emphasized was the importance of being adaptable. I  remembered the last time I’d complained about the conditions  of a training exercise being unfair. My mother had looked at  me with disappointment and then explained that in time of  war, everything might be “unfair.” The enemy wouldn’t give  their opponent a fair chance, so a true warrior dealt with the  situation instead of griping about it. From then on I’d kept my  mouth shut and redoubled my efforts. 

Spurred by the memory, I gathered myself for one great  leap as we neared the mailbox. Even so, Aunt Sooni’s own was  more powerful than mine, and she arrived a second before  I did. Her momentum carried her past the mailbox, and she  swung back around, resuming her human form as she did so. 

I changed back as well, trailing in her wake. “I almost had  you!” I said, knowing that she wouldn’t hear it as a challenge  the way the rest of my relatives would. 

“You did indeed,” Aunt Sooni agreed. “Well done.” I ducked my head, trying not to let her see how much the  words of praise meant to me. The rest of my family rarely gave  out compliments. That didn’t distract me from my purpose, however. I wanted to rise on my toes and reach for the mailbox,  but I knew I had to await permission. Even Aunt Sooni had her  stern side. 

“Very good,” she said, acknowledging my patience. “You  may get the mail.” 

I had to restrain myself from lunging forward and picking up the package to shake it. The box was larger than I had  realized, no more than a foot wide and only six inches deep,  but almost half as long as I was. Aunt Sooni might not mind,  but the other tigers would disapprove. It’s probably something com pletely unrelated, I told myself as my heart pounded. I couldn’t let  Aunt Sooni see my hope—or my dread. 

From time to time we got curios from Uncle Hwan, accompanied by brief but exquisitely calligraphed notes on expensive  mulberry paper. More often the Matriarch received cryptic lit tle parcels, which I wasn’t allowed to ask about or show interest  in. The Matriarch had made it especially clear that I was never  to mention the existence of those parcels to any outsider who  might happen to show up at the estate. I assumed this larger  package, too, had to be kept secret. 

I made myself step forward and calmly work the catch of  the mailbox as though it were an ordinary task, as opposed to  the one thing standing between me and my lifelong dream. The  catch did its trick, and the roof of the miniature pagoda sprang  open on its hinge. Inside was a letter, which I picked up as decorously as I could manage. I sucked in a breath when I turned it  over and saw that it was addressed to one Juhwang Sebin and  stamped in red ink with the seal of the Space Forces. A letter  for me! I was in an agony of suspense wondering if it contained  good news or bad.

Aunt Sooni’s reaction took me by surprise. “Check to see  if there’s another one in there?” I could smell her own dread,  as if she expected bad news. She could have nudged me aside  and reached into the mailbox herself, but she was allowing me  to save face. 

I peered into the mailbox. She was right. I’d been so excited  to find a letter for me that I hadn’t thought to look for anything else. 

“Huh” was all I could think to say when I drew out the  second letter. It also bore the red seal of the Space Forces. But  unlike my letter, mine, it was addressed in formal calligraphy to  the Matriarch of the Juhwang Tiger Clan. 

Then I knew. I should have figured it out sooner. The  box contained a sword—an officer’s sword. Like the one Uncle  Hwan always wore on his visits. That, plus the letter, meant— No. It couldn’t be. 

I could only think of one reason why the Space Forces  would return a captain’s sword: because he was dead. My eyes  stung. It wasn’t the first time a member of the Juhwang Tiger  Clan had died in service, but I’d hoped to follow in Uncle  Hwan’s footsteps and make him proud. 

Not Uncle Hwan! I thought in dismay. The uncle who had  always made sure to bring me something special every time he  visited, whether it was a knife of my own or a cinnamon candy.  The uncle who had told me stories about his adventures as  an officer, fighting off pirates or saving his comrades from the  Thousand Worlds’ enemies. 

“We must take this to the Matriarch right away,” Aunt  Sooni said. She pursed her lips as she regarded the package,  her expression grim.

A memory flashed before me of the last time Uncle Hwan  had visited the estate. He’d been resplendent in his Space  Forces uniform, dark blue with shining gold braid, and along  with his blaster he’d had a sword belted at his side. He’d let me  look at the sword up close and then draw it from its sheath for  a magical moment. 

It was a masterwork, that sword. Even its sheath was finely  ornamented, with gold scrollwork and symbols pieced together  from mother-of-pearl. The hilt was wrapped in oiled leather,  and a blue silk tassel hung from its pommel. I’d been disappointed to discover that the blade itself was blunt, and the  corner of my uncle’s mouth had crooked upward in amusement. “This sword represents my honor,” he’d said. “It is my honor  that gives it its edge, not the metal itself.” 

I’d said I understood, although I didn’t. Honor was all very  well, but what good was a blunt sword against pirates or raiders  from the Jeweled Worlds? 

Now, as I looked down at the box, I trembled. Surely it  couldn’t contain Uncle Hwan’s sword. “It can’t be,” I said to  myself. 

“That’s not for us to find out,” Aunt Sooni said briskly.  Still, that acrid worry-smell came from her again. She hoisted  the box with ease. “You can come with me, since I’m sure the  Matriarch will want to hear your news, too.” 

We padded solemnly through the courtyard and to the separate building where the Matriarch kept her residence. From  the outside, it resembled the mailbox pagoda with its peaked  roof and decorations in the traditional five colors of black, red,  green, yellow, and blue. Someone’s idea of a joke, although I  had a hard time imagining the Matriarch had a sense of humor.

We stopped by the profusely blooming azalea bushes whose  magenta blossoms masked the entrance to the pagoda. I craned  my head back to squint at one of the thoroughly modern windows above us. I glimpsed a shadow moving behind it. The  Matriarch liked to keep an eye on all the approaches. 

“Matriarch,” Aunt Sooni called out, “we have a package  addressed to you, and a letter from the Space Force.” She used  the most deferential language, on account of the Matriarch  being the head of the family, and the oldest one here. 

The wind rustled the azalea blossoms and their glossy  leaves. For a moment, I wondered if the Matriarch had heard  us. Even if she hadn’t, we’d have to wait here until she acknowledged us. It was her way. 

Then a hoarse voice with a hint of a growl in it said from  above, “Come in, Sooni, and bring the cub with you.” I hated being called cub as if I were still a child, but the  fact remained that I was the youngest tiger spirit in the family.  Besides, I knew better than to object. I followed Aunt Sooni up  the stairs to the foyer, where we both took off our shoes before  continuing up the stairs into the pagoda proper. The Matriarch sat cross-legged on an embroidered floor  cushion, her back straight. Her long white hair had a single  black streak remaining in it, and she had yellow eyes, which  made her look impossibly tigerish even in human form. I had  never seen her in anything but a hanbok, the old-fashioned  dress of the Thousand Worlds. The jogori, or jacket, was a  faded orange with subtle gold embroidery, and her chima, or  skirt, was an equally faded black. 

We bowed deeply. I was impressed by how Aunt Sooni  managed it without dropping the box on her toes.

“Bring it here, Sooni,” the Matriarch said in her growl ing voice. 

Aunt Sooni did. 

“Open it.” 

Aunt Sooni kept her fingernails sharp, as did all the elders  in the family. Or maybe she’d turned them partway into claws.  I wasn’t sure which. I didn’t have that kind of fine-grained control over my shape-shifting; most tigers didn’t. She sliced the  package’s tape and opened the lid. 

My breath caught when I recognized the sword. “It’s Hwan’s,” Aunt Sooni said. 

The Matriarch’s eyes flicked to me, sharp as a knife-cut.  “So it is.” 

The Matriarch noticed my distress. Instead of rebuking me  directly, she said to Aunt Sooni, “Sebin is disgracing themself.” I knew she’d meant for me to hear. I immediately lowered  my gaze, flushing in shame. 

The Matriarch opened the letter that Aunt Sooni gave her.  Her eyes flickered. Then she looked at the two of us. “Space Forces Command informs us,” the Matriarch said,  “that Hwan of the Juhwang Tiger Clan stands accused of treason and has disgraced his uniform. There is a warrant out for  his arrest. He will be court-martialed upon his capture.” That can’t be right! I wanted to cry out. Even though I was  relieved that Hwan wasn’t dead, this was almost worse. Uncle  Hwan was the one who’d taught me about honor. He couldn’t  have deserted. 

And if Uncle Hwan had been branded a traitor, what did  that mean for me? Had my dream of serving among the stars  just evaporated with the arrival of Uncle Hwan’s arrest warrant?

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