Thursday, April 28, 2016

Flamecaster - Review

Flamecaster (Shattered Realms, # 1)

By: Cinda Williams Chima

Published: April 19th 2016 by HarperCollins

544 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--The first in a thrilling new four-book fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima, set in the same world as her beloved Seven Realms series, a generation later

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.

I haven't read the Seven Realms series. The Shattered Realms is apparently a spin off series of the Seven Realms, but I loved the cover for Flamecaster and the description drew me in. Plus when I went to look, the Seven Realms series received really good reviews. So all of that led me to request Flamecaster for review. And in the end, I enjoyed it.

Ash is the prince of Fellsmarch. When Flamecaster starts Ash is reeling over the loss of his older sister. He also loses his father rather quickly when his father tries to rescue him from assassins. Ash, of course, feels guilty that his father died trying to protect him and so he runs away to a school that will help him better his abilities as a mage. While Ash is naturally gifted at healing he also has other abilities and other interests. Over the years, Ash doesn't just learn how to heal others, he learns to be an assassin himself. And his ultimate goal is to kill the king of Arden who was responsible for both the death of his older sister and his father.

Flamecaster is told from multiple points of view. Mostly from Ash and Jenna, but also from a few other characters at times. This narration style was more the type of eye in the sky where any character's thoughts and feels and actions were available for discussion at any point. This isn't always my favorite narration style, but it worked for Flamecaster.

That being said let's discuss Jenna next. She was a young girl working in the mines of Delphi when the book starts up. The king of Arden comes to visit Delphi one day and two of Jenna's friends also die that day as a result. And thus Jenna's hatred of the king springs up. She lets all of Delphi believe she died that same day and she goes into hiding in plain sight. After that, she makes it her mission to work against the king of Arden by blowing up bridges and generally causing mischief whenever she can. However, there's something mysterious about her. Jenna was adopted and she has this unknown mark on her neck. The only thing she knows about her birth family is the her birth grandmother told her that she would be hunted because of the mark.

There's also Destin Karn who plays the role of lieutenant in the king's army and Lila Barrowhill who works as a black market smuggler and spy. These two have key roles to play, but I can't discuss them too much as they both have spoilerish storylines.

When Jenna is finally discovered, she's injured to the point of needing healing that only magic can do. Enter Ash. While trying to find an in to the palace in order to assassinate the king, Ash gets spotted as an exceptional healer. He's brought in to heal Jenna so that she can be questioned, and of course the two begin to develop an attraction to each other. Yet there's more beneath the surface.

Truth be told, I feel like the entirety of Flamecaster was really just set up for the Shattered Realms series. There were many pieces of the puzzle that weren't revealed until the near end, but all that did was excite me to see what's going to happen next. While I don't think all of the "twists" were entirely unpredictable, I still don't know how everything fits together so I'm looking forward to the next book to find out.

Favorite quotes:

-It was one thing to break their hearts; it would have been worse if he'd held their hearts in his hands.

-"That's the thing about guilt," his father said. "It always seems like there's enough to go around. The only ones who don't take a share are the ones who are actually guilty."

-"In our story, the king of Arden gets eaten by wolves in Chapter One."

-"It's the worst thing in the world, to risk yourself by loving someone. At the same time, it's the best thing in the world--and worth the risk."

-"It's easy to die, Mageling," Taliesin said, stroking his hair. "It's staying alive that's hard work."

-"The problem is, hope is the thing that can't be reined in by rules or pinned down by bitter experience. It's a blessing and curse."

-"Give me another suggestion"..."something a little more creative than self-sacrifice."

-"You never know when you might face the sudden need to die," he said.

In the end, I really enjoyed Flamecaster. I'm intrigued enough to want to know what's going to happen in the rest of the series. Cinda Williams Chima is one of the first authors since finishing Morning Star that had me wanting to keep reading. Flamecaster wasn't perfect for me, yet I think I would have enjoyed this even more if I'd first read the original series, Seven Realms (which I do plan to do). Flamecaster gets 4 Stars from me. Have you read Flamecaster? What did you think? Let me know!

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