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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Book Review: Shadowcaster (Shattered Realms #2)

Release Date: April 4, 2017
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 551 pages
Source: Review Copy From Publisher

A lifelong war.

Alyssa ana’Raisa is the reluctant princess heir to the Gray Wolf throne of Fells, a queendom embroiled in a seemingly endless war. Hardened by too many losses, Lyss is more comfortable striking with a sword than maneuvering at court. After a brush with death, she goes on the offensive, meaning to end the war that has raged her whole life. If her gamble doesn’t pay off, she could lose her queendom before she even ascends to the throne.

A life in peril.

Across enemy lines in Arden, young rising star Captain Halston Matelon has been fighting for his king since he was a lýtling. Lately, though, he finds himself sent on ever more dangerous assignments. Between the terrifying rumors of witches and wolfish warriors to the north and his cruel king at home, Hal is caught in an impossible game of life and death.

The shadow of defeat.

    

Review:

Protagonists: Alyssa Ana'Raisa, crown princess of the Fells, has been fighting in the war against Arden since she was a lytling, but she wants to do much more than just defend her borders. She wants to make Gerard Montaigne sweat and for his thanes to find warring with the Fells to be too costly. She wants to invade Arden and show Montaigne the might of the Fells. Halston Matalon knows the king is gunning for him. As the son of one of Arden's thanes, and one particularly against the war at that, Hal knows that he could lose his life as a message to his father. Breon d'Tarvos travels with a group of performers, but when a commission to woo a pretty girlie with music turns south, he's on the run and without much of a place to go. All three of these protagonists are amazing. I mean, never once did I feel that a certain character got the short end of the stick. They all have compelling personal plotlines that entangle in a fascinating way. Oh, and the best part is there's a fourth POV, and it's someone we met in book 1, but I won't ruin the surprise.

Romance: So, there's really only one romance in this story and I loved it so much more than the first book. While I understand why the insta-love in the first book happened the way it did, I still wasn't too keen on it, but luckily in this story, we don't get anything close to an insta-love. While the romance between Alyssa and Hal isn't exactly slow burning, it's still rife with complications and feels realistic and very much in character for both these characters. Best of all the romance is pretty swoon worthy. I can't wait to see where Chima takes these characters since we didn't get all too much of a romance in this book and there is most assuredly more to explore with this relationship.

World Building: So I knew before venturing into this book that this series was going to be very different than series I've read in the past. Imagine if you will mixing a companion novel series and a more traditional series and you'd have this series. Unlike the previous book this story isn't told from the POV of Ash, instead, the clock gets turned back a bit and we see some of the events that happened in Flamecaster from other characters perspectives and we get to see some events that we really only heard about in the previous book. The central mystery of this entire series is the magemark mystery and while we do get some more clues as to what the magemarks are and why certain individuals have them, there is still far more to learn about them and by this point, I need to know. It's like an itch I can't scratch and while I'm a bit pacified for now I can't wait to see how things unfold in the next installment. One of the things about this series that I find very interesting is that in both this book and Flamecaster, the stories start out making the reader believe that Arden and/or Montaigne are the "Big Bad(s)" of this series, however, the real threat comes from across the seas and in this story we get to see more from Empress Celestine and learn more about her plans for the Seven Realms.

Predictability: So, I'm going to level with you, and I feel like I've done this a lot lately, but I was sort of spoiled on a plot point that happened at the very end of this book, but while it sort of was the entire basis for the cliffhanger, it didn't impede my enjoyment of this book at all. As for the things I wasn't spoiled for, since this does turn back the clock a bit there are things that happen that I knew would happen thanks to the first book, and honestly, there were quite a few twists that I was able to predict, though luckily they were smaller twists. The larger ones still managed to surprise me and suck me deeper and deeper into the story.

Ending: Like I said this story ends with a cliffhanger and the wait for the next book is going to kill me, I know it. The cliffhanger ending isn't all that bad, it's more what this story didn't reveal that has me chomping at the bit for book three. The final climax of this book was fantastic, I mean the edge of your seat, white-knuckle gripping the arms of your chair fantastic. Even though I already knew what would happen there were other details that I didn't know and that made this ending all the more exciting. We see the ending from a couple of perspectives and honestly, the final words in this book left me breathless and pretty much internally holding out "gimmie" hands for book three!

Rating:


I knew going into this book that I was going to love it and it did not disappoint, I only wish that I had read it sooner as I had planned on. I can't wait to read the next installment in the series and I hope to be able to read it early, and trust me if I get that chance I will read it early this time!

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