Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cast in Fury by Michelle Sagara

Kaylin is tasked with helping the temperamental Imperial playwright, Rennick, produce a play that will lower the tensions between the humans and the Tha'alani, who prevented the tidal wave in Cast in Secret from destroying the city, while the humans have come to believe that the Tha'alani are the ones who caused the wave. Already, some Tha'alani have been attacked, and the Hawks and Swords are watching the situation closely, before a riot develops.

Marcus, leader of the Swords, and one of the Leontines, has been accused of murder, and Kaylin takes it upon herself to investigate the charges, defying the direct orders of his replacement, Sergeant Mallory. She learns a great deal more about the culture of the Leontines, and we learn more about how she was given a home in the Pridlea of Marcus' household.

The Leontines have been vigilant for centuries, killing any members of their race who bear the coloration that indicates that they have mage abilities - at birth. One who has evaded that fate is now working to corrupt other Leontines, and has sired a cub that should also be killed, before it grows into its power. But Kaylin was present at the birth as a midwife, and her protective instincts place her life in jeopardy as she strives to keep the child alive.

As Kaylin and Severn get to know Rennick and his art, he says, "If we don't challenge ourselves, we get stuck in a rut. We do the same things over and over, until they're all faded echoes of the first thing we did."

It's good to see that Sagara is aware of this. Far too many authors simply do the same thing over and over again, stuck in a rut. So far, Sagara hasn't fallen into routine. Each installment of the Chronicles of Elantra reveals something new about Kaylin and about her world.

A particularly evocative bit, when Kaylin is talking with the Dragon Lord Sanabalis:
"His eyes were orange-tinted gold, and they met her gaze, without blinking, for a verly long time. As if she were a story in progress, and he could read her, and he wasn't certain what the ending would be, or if he would like it."

Another thing Rennick says about his plays, and the people who inspire them:
"...people make a story of their lives. Gains, losses, tragedy and triumph - you can tell a lot about someone simply by what they put into each category."

Definitely real-world implications here. We all see ourselves as victors or victims, heroes or villains, either in control of our own destiny, or the pawns of fate.

Sagara has gotten away from taking the easy way out, populating her world with elves, dwarves, vampires and werewolves. Instead, she's created some new races, like the telepathic Tha'alani, the winged Aerians, the Leontines, the immortal Barrani. The Dragons may seem familiar, but she's put her own signature twist on them, as well.

The realm of Elantra is slowly revealed, as bits and pieces of its history and myths show up in each book, and it grows stranger and more intriguing as time goes by.

I'm eagerly awaiting reading the next installment in this series.

1 comment:

Jill said...

I love this series, too. I discovered it a bit late, but that was good because it gives me a bunch in the series to read before I have to play the waiting game. :-)