Friday, August 30, 2013

Cast in Peril by Michelle Sagara

  After Kaylin's apartment is destroyed by a magic bomb, and the dragon who has been living with her is endangered, she temporarily moves into the Imperial Palace until things settle down. Yeah, that's likely. The egg that she's been caring for finally hatches out a familiar which looks much like a small dragon, for the moment, although I suspect it will be capable of taking on other forms at some point, as it becomes convenient.

Kaylin's presence becomes required soon thereafter upon a journey undertaken by the Barrani Court, upon which she is accompanied by her friends Teela and Severn, as well as Lord Nightshade and the Consort. Or perhaps she accompanies them, as they all seem to have their own motives and justifications for going on the quest. Yes, I said it. The Q word. Next, I'll mention the F word..."fellowship."

So, aside from the usual Barrani jostling for position and intriguery, the journey remains safe for the first few days, until they are past the point of no return to Elantra. Sagara introduces a new "race" into the mix - the Hallione - the guardians of the way stations on the trail to the Western March. They appear to have been created by the Ancients in much the same fashion as the other races, except they seem to have been created from varying races, as it turns out.

Kaylin gets to know one of these beings far better than those who have known them for centuries, in her inimitable style, and it affords her the chance to deepen her understanding of history, which helps us out a bit in this story, too.

There is at least one criminal (at least as far as the Emperor is concerned) hiding among the innocent Barrani on this journey. Severn has been tasked with assassinating the thief without causing a diplomatic incident. When the thief turns traitor to his own race instead, and instigates an attack on the adventurers, all bets are off.

Sagara continues with the oddest brand of magic I think I've ever encountered. In this world, words have meaning. Deep, powerful meanings which affect the very fabric of reality and the lives of all beings within hearing when a word is spoken. But words more importantly have their greatest meaning within the fabric woven into a story, which binds and shapes all actions and events. Kaylin, with her status as Chosen, has the ability to see and manipulate words in manners unavailable to others, which makes her uniquely qualified to overcome the difficulties she and her friends encounter.

This ain't your "I cast a fireball spell" rodeo.

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