B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Award-winning Historical Fiction Books


Wayfarer Returns


Website(s) Author website 
Genres Historical Fiction
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A Japan that might have been…

Revolutionary young samurai with dirigibles take on Commodore Perry and his Black Ships in this alternate history steampunk-touched tale set in 1850s samurai-era Japan.

“Cool alternative-history yarn of yester-century Nippon, a promising steampunk-energized start.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Sorensen immerses readers in a compelling and provocative story” — Blueink Review

“A terrifically vivid historical novel set in an 1852 Japan re-imagined along Steampunk lines.” — Historical Novel Society

A brisk and fascinating read…an enjoyable and believable work of alternative historical fiction” — Foreword Reviews

“TORU: WAYFARER RETURNS is a fast-paced historical adventure steeped in Japanese culture.” — IndieReader

— Finalist, Fantasy category, 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
— Bronze Medal Award, Multicultural Fiction category, 2016 eLit Book Awards
— Shortlisted for 2016 Cygnus Science Fiction award, winner TBD April 2017

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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 values decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation’s closed borders like vultures, growing ever more demanding.

Tōru, a shipwrecked young fisherman rescued by American 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.

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Tōru: Wayfarer Returns is the first book in the Sakura Steam Series, an alternate history of the tumultuous period from the opening of Japan in 1853 to the Meiji Restoration in 1868. While Sorensen’s heroes and their steampunk dirigibles are fictional, she builds her 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.

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