Book Review: Cast in Deception by Michelle Sagara

cid_coverThe Chronicles of Elantra has been a favorite series of mine for years, and this latest edition to the series, the thirteenth, was a fun ride.

For anyone new to these books, the series focuses on the life of Kaylin Neya–a member of the Hawks, a sort of a police force for the city of Elantra–as well as the many friends, acquaintances, and frenemies she makes along her way. I like to think of the Elantra books as a kind of secondary-world urban fantasy, and this is especially true of the earlier books in the series before a lot of the over-arching plot stuff starts to kick in. The world is rich with interesting fantasy races, everything from Dragons who spend most of their time in a human-like form, the Barrani–a sort of fae-like race, and the Tha’alani–a race that has no secrets from each other as their minds are linked through an elemental force. And those are just a few of the interesting peoples that populate the city of Elantra.

Cast in Deception kicks off with one of Kaylin’s many house-guests–a Barrani she had sort of previously ‘rescued’–wanting to take the Barrani Test of Name, which is very serious business. This is worrying for many reasons to Kaylin and others for reasons that I won’t go into so as to not spoil previous books. While worrying about that, Kaylin and her dragon friend Bellusdeo, are literally swept up and carried off to the Barrani lands of The West March where an unknown danger awaits them. Is the danger what everyone assumes it to be, or is it something else entirely?

This story has a lot to do with the Barrani, so if you’re a fan of them from previous books, you’ll probably like this one a lot. It revisits a lot characters and threads from books eight and nine, Cast in Peril and Cast in Sorrow, and events involving the Barrani in following volumes. Where the earlier books could almost be read on their own, the story at this point has really started to be more about the over-arching elements instead of a ‘mystery of the hour’ type of thing, and being we’re at book thirteen, I really appreciate that.

One of the things I found interesting about this installment is that while the individual plot of the book (Annarion’s Test of Name, the issue with the cohort) feels like it advances with the pace of molasses, there is actually a lot of developments in this one, especially regarding Kaylin’s character. My biggest pet peeve about this series (despite how much I love it) is that a lot of the books are Kaylin having no idea what is going on and having everything explained to her through various characters and it tends to get very exposition-y. In this book we see Kaylin leading those discussions, being more involved, puzzling things out herself, instead of being so clueless about all the metaphysical and magical stuff that’s happening. It  helps that a lot of things are starting to be tied together, from the Keeper’s Garden to the Tha’alani’s shared consciousness, to the Dragon’s and Barrani, the Towers and other sentient buildings, all tracing back somehow to (possibly) a single driving force.

I can’t go without talking about Kaylin’s love life, or lack thereof. I’m a bit of a romance addict, I’ll admit it. I don’t need a lot, just a hint here or there and these books have just enough tidbits thrown in with various characters, hints really, like widespread breadcrumbs, but just enough to keep me following the path. I like that Kaylin doesn’t really have a love life. Her friendships are far more important at this point in her life. I don’t think I’ll be mad if it never happens by the time series ends as long as the end is written well for the overall story. But. These breadcrumbs man. Am I reading too much between the lines? I hope not. At least there was a tiny breadcrumb in this one and while it’s not my main ship, at this point I’ll be happy if it goes that way. Because I’m me, I’m hoping this will turn out to be the longest slow-burn romance ever written.

Oh, lastly, it didn’t exactly end on a cliffhanger but there is a ton that is left unresolved and the main point that kicked off the plot in this one never even came to fruition. This definitely feels akin to books 8 and 9 which worked together as one long story arc and I’m guessing book fourteen will be a direct continuation of this one in the same way. Although, at book thirteen I can’t help but wonder if we’re starting to come to the end of things. And as much as I absolutely love these books and could happily read them for many more years, I’ll be satisfied as a reader if the story gets resolved well at the end of things.

Overall, thought this was a great edition to the series and I rated it 4/5 stars on goodreads.

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