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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cast in Flame by Michele Sagara

Cast in Flame is part of a long series (this is book 11), and I quickly realized that I was unable to make proper sense of it without having some background.  I ordered The Chronicles of Elantra bundle that includes the first three books in the series and read them before going back to Cast in Flame.

book descriptions of the first 3 books in the bundle:

Cast in Shadows:  "Seven years ago Kaylin fled the crime-riddled streets of Nightshade, knowing that something was after her. Children were being murdered-- and all had the same odd markings that mysteriously appeared on her own skin....
Since then, she's learned to read, she's learned to fight and she's become one of the vaunted Hawks who patrol and police the City of Elantra. Alongside the winged Aerians and the immortal Barrani, she's made a place for herself, far from the mean streets of her birth.
But children are once again dying, and a dark and familiar pattern is emerging. Kaylin is ordered back into Nightshade with a partner she knows she can't trust, a Dragon lord for a companion and a device to contain her powers-- powers that no other human has. Her task is simple-- find the killer, stop the murders...and survive the attentions of those who claim to be her allies!"

Cast in Courtlight:  In Elantra, a job well done is rewarded with a more dangerous task. So after defeating a dark evil, Kaylin Neya goes before the Barrani High Court, where a misspoken word brings sure death. Kaylin's never been known for her grace or manners, but the High Lord's heir is suspiciously ill, and Kaylin's healing magic is the only shot at saving him--if she can dodge the traps laid for her....

Cast in Secret: Still avoiding magic whenever possible, Private Kaylin Neya relished investigating a run-of-the-mill theft. Until she found out the mysterious stolen box had been taken from Elani Street, where the mages and charlatans mingled, and it was sometimes hard to tell the difference between the two. And since the box was ancient, without a keyhole, and held tremendous darkness inside, Kaylin knew unknown forces were again playing with her destiny--and her life....

OK--interesting world building, unusual and frequently endearing characters, and an emphasis on words, symbols, and communication.  

The three books in the beginning of the series take place in a short space of time, so Kaylin's character growth is very gradual.  And although I skipped the 7 intervening books, even the latest book has not put much chronological distance from the first books.

I enjoyed the first three books; Sagara has well-developed characters and enough action to keep the novels exciting.  However, I could not have gotten much out of Cast in Flame if I had not read The Elantra Bundle; this is definitely not a series that allows you to begin with the later books.  Even with the first three books under my belt, I had obviously missed a great deal of action and several new characters, but at least I had some familiar characters, history, and world-building embedded when I tackled this latest addition to the Chronicles of Elantra.

It is a little hard to review Cast in Flame fairly because I missed the characters and events from the previous book, and Cast in Flame is a more of a continuation from the previous book  (the plots in the first 3 books were complete in themselves).  I've also seen Cast in Flame referred to as both book 10 and book eleven, which is confusing.

Chronologically, it has taken either 10 or 11 books to move Kaylin from twenty to twenty-one-years old.  I guess that explains the lack of character development, but boy, that is certainly a lot of action in the space of a year or a little more.

I didn't enjoy Cast in Flame as much as I did the three-book-bundle I read in order to make sense of this one--and not just because I had to adjust to new situations and new characters.  The two story lines of C of F felt awkwardly juxtaposed even though they are related.  The first deals with Nightshade's sentient castle getting unruly, and the second with the attack of one of the ancients (and Kaylin's search for a place for herself and Bellelusdeo to live away from the Emperor).


Science Fiction/Fantasy.  2014.  Print length:  496 pages.


  1. This sounds like a good fantasy novel, with strong world building and character development. I just wonder whether I'd love it enough to stick with such a long series. :-)

  2. Ok, I've to admit I'm a terribly bad reader when it comes to long series. Patience is one issue, and another is to keep track of the characters (especially if there're many) over the time (some authors release only a book in a year) so by the time the latest is released, I've forgotten where I'd end, lol.

    Nevertheless, this series sound interesting. I just hope I'm brave enough to tackle (er, read) them, hehe.

  3. Irene - I really enjoyed the first 3, but don't really have any intention of pursuing the series. Especially, since the latest one didn't work that well for me.

    Melody - In this case, so many are already available that you don't have to wait, but as I mentioned to Irene, I don't think I'll continue. Too many other books to catch up on!