Friday, October 12, 2012

Cast in Chaos by Michelle Sagara

Sagara's heroine, Kaylin Neya, tends to jump right into things with both feet, as does this story. The action begins rapidly when odd magical happenings begin to cluster in the somewhat shady streets of the city. A hair restoring tonic actually works spectacularly, a fortuneteller's stories are actually true, and children begin to be born with odd abilities. Things escalate rapidly and a rain of blood allows Kaylin and the Hawks to sketch the radius of the effect - it's quite large.

When historical records are consulted, it turns out that the last time this happened, it presaged the advent of two new races, human and Barrani, into the world, and a great deal of destruction occured in the area when the portal that delivered them opened. The Dragon Council decides to have the Mages and Arcanists try to prevent the opening of the portal, but Kaylin discovers in a roundabout fashion that the new race on its way is being pursued by something called the Devourer, which has eaten whole worlds. Ever compassionate for the homeless, she uses all of her powers of persuasion, and her connections with the Keeper, Evanton, and the Tha'alani mind readers to sway the Emperor and the rest of his council to try something different.

An interesting dynamic between Lord Nightshade of the fiefs and Kaylin develops further when he rescues her from her first encounter with the Devourer between worlds. Kaylin digs into history with Tara, the avatar of the Tower in Tiamaris' fief. There are new developments with the runes magically embedded in her skin, and she gets access to the deeper parts of the Arkon's hoard. We find out a lot more about Severn's love for Kaylin, too.

There's a great buildup of tension and mystery and action for about two thirds of the book, but when the final confrontation with the Devourer arrives, Sagara spends far too many pages in mystical mumbo jumbo and allowing Kaylin to convince the Devourer not to eat people by sharing her memories and emotions, and in the process discovering many things about herself. Why clog up a great story with tortuous, slow

There should be interesting times ahead in the next book, as Elantra absorbs the refugees and Kaylin begins her training in Dragon etiquette, now that the crisis is past.

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