It is release day for Michelle Sagara’s Cast In Wisdom! Definitely a book worth adding to your TBR. The link is to my review if you are interested.
Blurb: SOMETHING IS WAKING
The fiefs that exist at the heart of the city of Elantra are home to sentient Towers that guard the world against the incursion of Shadow. But between the fiefs exists the gray world of the border zone. In it, geography changes between one passage across a border and the next. The rules of magic are different there—and yet somehow familiar to Kaylin Neya.
When a Shadow escapes, Kaylin must find out how…and why. If Shadows can breach the barrier erected by the Towers, the whole of Elantra will be devoured. It’s happened on other worlds. Bellusdeo, Kaylin’s Dragon companion, absolutely believes it can happen on theirs.
The border zone holds secrets and ancient histories, and people are gathering there in search of its power. Without even understanding what that power is, or why it exists, Kaylin is in a desperate race against time to find those secrets first. She doesn’t know who her enemies are. She doesn’t know how many she’ll face. But she won’t face them alone.
Main SPA Evaluation Areas:
World Building: 5/5 Stars
Series Continuity/Expectations: 3/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 4/5 Stars
I am yet again struggling to review a book in this series that I love. I could almost copy and past my review from the last book as the issues I had with that one are still very much present in this one.
This is now the at least the third book in a row where you see little to no character growth from Kaylin. You see little to no page time from some of the original favorite characters like Marcus, the Hawklord or Sanabalis.
Though we do get more time with Nightshade, that interaction is done almost entirely through his mental link with Kaylin and no actual interaction. There is a great deal of Kaylin’s interactions in this book that are handled in this manner. This is frustrating because it seems that somewhere along the way the deep tensions between Kaylin and Nightshade and Kaylin and Severn have been lost. Whatever tension existed between them has vanished. Severn’s place has turned more into a less personal bodyguard kind of a role while Nightshade has been relegated to more of an advisor/information bank.
I did love that we got to spend more time with the Arkon. This really was more about his story than anything and I was glad to see the focus shift from the cohort. You still get a good dose of them in this book, but they aren’t the focal point. It was also nice to see that Kaylin didn’t collect anyone or anything new in this book.
Another piece that was different in this one from many previous books is that Kaylin seems like more of an observer. She participates and has a few points where her abilities are key, but it isn’t her actions that are the most important. In a way, it is nice to see her not always being the one to come in and save the day, but she is the basis for the series. I would have really liked to see this be a book that helped her character grow in some way.
As far as series expectations go, this is where I tend to get tangled up. If you look at the last several books in this series, this is absolutely right in line with those books. But if you look at the earliest books in the series, this doesn’t have quite the same characteristics and feel. It does have more going on and brings about some drastic changes to the world than the last couple of books, so I’d say it falls in between the early books and the last couple as far as those expectations go.
As I mentioned in my review of Cast in Oblivion, I still love this series and these books, but characters need to grow. There are also things about characters that readers fall in love with and if you leave those things behind, you may end up leaving the readers behind as well. This one did a better job of bringing some of those things along than the last few, but not quite as much as I would have liked.
*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. Opinions stated are honest and my own.
I don’t tend to set reading goals as I already probably spend too much time with my nose buried in a book. Maybe. It’s debatable. I have no desire to ever again hit or even get close to my highest book count in a year, because that 508 was nuts. I can say that based on the numbers below, I can probably still hang onto my my “picky, moody reader” label.
Books read in 2019
258 New to me; 28 Rereads; 14 DNF
5 Stars: 12
4.5 Stars: 7
4 Stars: 91
3.5 Stars: 34
3 Stars: 80
2.5 Stars: 13
2 Stars: 21
Below 2 Stars: 0
*I didn’t start recording half stars until I changed my rating system in May. I also fully plan on adding at least one or two more books to this before we reach “one” on the countdown clock.
Of those twelve 5 stars I handed out, it isn’t a bit of a surprise that most of them came from authors at the top of my favorites list. Faith Hunter, Anne Bishop and Michelle Sagara (West).
A couple of others were standouts even among those few that managed 5 stars and are worth mentioning again.
One of the other things that I wanted to do as a final wrap up to my 2019 reading is to mention my top Indie Author reads for the year. Keep in mind that these are books that I KNOW are indie books. There are probably dozens of indies on my read list for the year, but not all authors are upfront and it isn’t always easy to tell. If I wasn’t 100% certain, I didn’t notate that a book was an indie.
These are the best indie reads for me this year.
I highly recommend any of the books I’ve listed here. If you haven’t read one of them yet, you really should add it to your 2020 TBR.
*click on any thumbnail to go to the review for that book*
Blurb: POLITICS ARE HELL
Kaylin wasn’t sent to the West March to start a war. Her mission to bring back nine Barrani might do just that, though. She traveled with a Dragon, and her presence is perceived as an act of aggression in the extremely hostile world of Barrani-Dragon politics. Internal Barrani politics are no less deadly, and Kaylin has managed—barely—to help the rescued Barrani evade both death and captivity at the hands of the Consort.
Before the unplanned “visit” to the West March, Kaylin invited the Consort to dinner. For obvious reasons, Kaylin wants to cancel dinner—forever. But the Consort is going to show up at the front door at the agreed-upon time. The fact that she tried to imprison Kaylin’s guests doesn’t matter at all…to her.
A private Barrani Hell, built of Shadow and malice, exists beneath the High Halls. It is the High Court’s duty to jail the creature at its heart—even if it means that Barrani victims are locked in the cage with it. The Consort is willing to do almost anything to free the trapped and end their eternal torment. And she needs the help of Kaylin’s houseguests—and Kaylin herself. Failure won’t be death—it will be Hell. And that’s where Kaylin is going.
It pains me greatly to write this, but… I didn’t love this book. I have adored this series (and pretty much every single thing put out by this author) from the very beginning, but…
There really wasn’t anything new in this book. Kaylin does all the same kinds of things that Kaylin has always done. There really wasn’t any real growth for her in this book. That and like the last one, I don’t feel like I got enough of the other characters that I want to have page time, mostly Severn and Nightshade. We didn’t even get to see Marcus or the Hawklord in this book. I’m not dissing this. It was not a bad book at all. It was still really good. I just didn’t feel like it did much to move the series forward. There was so much time spent on dealing with the cohort, in this and the last one, that nothing else has room to develop.
Things seem to be getting crowded for Kaylin in this series. She has become a collector, of people and magical creatures, and there are only so many new people/things you can introduce before you lose the important ones that have been there from the beginning. You see it heavily in this book.
I would love to see the next book having more of the feel of the earlier books where more time is spent with Kaylin actually doing things rather than massive chunks of time spent in her head. Characters need to grow. Absolutely. But there are things about characters that readers fall in love with and if you leave those things behind, you may end up leaving the readers behind as well. This book rides very close to that line for me.
Blurb: WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE, WHO NEEDS ENEMIES?
Private Kaylin Neya thought her home couldn’t possibly get more crowded. But when one of her housemates, Annarion, decides to undertake the Barrani Test of Name, his friends refuse to let him face his task alone—and Kaylin’s sentient home, Helen, is the only structure capable of shielding the rest of Elantra from the magnitude of their power.
Annarion and Mandoran almost caused the destruction of the High Halls once already. Add nine of their closest friends, and the danger is astronomically higher—especially since these guests are at the heart of a political firestorm. Imprisoned almost a millennium ago, their recent freedom threatens the rulership of several prominent Barrani families, and the machinations of those Lords make it almost impossible to tell friend from foe.
As political tensions ramp up, the shadows beneath the High Halls are seeking a freedom that has never been possible before. Kaylin must find a way to keep those shadows from escaping, or that freedom will destroy her city, the empire and everything she holds dear.
If I had to compare this to any of the others in the series, it is probably most like Cast in Peril. That said, I think this is the most different of all of the books so far. It is probably my second least favorite of the series.
Even though I still really enjoyed this, it felt like I was missing much of my favorite characters because the focus was almost entirely on the extended group of the cohort than on any of the established existing characters. It is obvious that Kaylin is bringing them into her sphere of people she considers hers, but I’m not as much of a fan of this group as I have been of every other character that has been brought in.
It was also missing a bit of what I’d consider classic Kaylin. Her personality is absolutely still there. She is still growing and maturing, but there was very little of her innate abilities displayed in this book so it almost felt as if even she were somewhat missing from this story.
This was a much lower key book, with the focus on the politics and intrigue of the Barrani court. If it follows a pattern being much like Cast in Peril (feeling sort of like a gap book to bridge major story arcs), then the next book will be much fuller in the sense of action and progress.
I am currently on a rereading binge. But again, being the occasionally brainless person I am, I completely forgot how many books are in this series. Probably because I only have the first few in print and the rest are digital. I had wanted to get them all read again before the new book came out. I have just started on book 9 of 13 and the new book came out a few days ago so I am way behind.