Action & Adventure, Adult, Fantasy

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

After what felt like the LONGEST library hold, I was so excited to finally start reading Chima’s Shattered Realms series. I was fully expecting to love this as much as her Seven Realms series, and I was not disappointed. 

51kkJJ5dP2L._SY346_Flamecaster (Shattered Realms #1)
Cinda Williams Chima

Set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Seven Realms series, a generation later, this is a breathtaking story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death. This dazzling beginning to a new series is indispensable for fans of Cinda Williams Chima and a perfect starting point for readers who are new to her work.

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 he’s closer than ever to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. With time running out, Ash faces an excruciating choice: Can he use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the 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 ruthless king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

My Review

I absolutely loved Cinda Willams Chima’s Seven Realms series, so I was excited to learn that a follow-up series set in the same world, one generation later, exists! This first book in the Shattered Realms series follows the son of Gray Wolf Queen Raisa ana’Marianna and High Wizard Han Alister, Adrian sul’Han.

For anyone worried about the fact that this series is a spinoff of another, reading the Seven Realms series is definitely not a prerequisite for enjoying Flamecaster.  That being said, I do think that those who have read the previous series will have a better grasp of this world and its major players. I can’t say whether anything in this book will be confusing to those who haven’t read the previous four, because I am not in that position. However, very few characters from Seven Realms appear in this book, and it really does read like a completely new series. I am a big proponent of reading things in chronological order, though, so if you do plan on reading the Seven Realms series I would start there.

Anyway, let’s get into the events of this book. For reasons I will not explain here (because, spoilers) the first few chapters of this book upset me VERY DEEPLY. Some events occur that I suspect will not be okay with anyone who loved the Seven Realms series. However, despite those very saddening events, what follows is a beautifully-written book that I think is very much worth reading.

There are basically 2 storylines here that eventually converge. First, Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, flees his kingdom after said very awful events occur. He travels to Oden’s Ford to attend a new school for training mages in the healing arts. Rather than focus on healing others as originally planned, he is forced on a path towards vengeance, and becomes a very skilled poisoner. He spends his time while not at school sabotaging Arden and killing evil people by posing as a traveling farrier.

In our other storyline, we meet Jenna Bandelow. She lives in the poor community of Delphi, working in the mines. After witnessing the deaths of two people very close to her at a young age, she joins the Patriots in an attempt to wage war on a vicious king who oppresses his people.

Their stories converge in Arden, where Ash is posing as a healer in an attempt to get close enough to Arden’s king to assassinate him. Jenna ends up in Arden because the same king wants to trade her to a faraway Empress who is searching for a girl with Jenna’s magemark. Ash and Jenna have an instant connection, and the relationship that develops between them is very sweet. I really like the two of them together, and I’m rooting for an HEA by the end of the series.

There is a ton of intrigue in this book. From emissaries who may or may not be working for the empress, to Destin Karn and his mysterious motives, to Lila Barrilow and her smuggling ring, there are many characters besides the main two who are shady and may not be who they say they are. The plot of this series is pretty complicated in this first book, but not in a way that’s confusing or hard to follow. It grabs hold of your attention and doesn’t let go until the last page.

This book does end on a bit of a cliffhanger. Ash and Jenna are separated, and neither knows if the other is alive. We still don’t know any new information about Jenna’s magemark or why the Empress is hunting her at the end of this volume, and I’m hoping that will be addressed in the next book. Either way, I’m really happy with the start of this series. I love the way Chima writes, and this series so far has proved just as gripping as the Seven Realms series. I have the next book, Shadowcaster, downloaded on my Kindle and ready to go, and I can’t wait to jump in!

Have you read the Shattered Realms series, or the Seven Realms series? What did you think?

Flamecaster is currently available: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

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