Format: E-Galley, 551 pages
Release Date: April 4th 2017
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
A lifelong war.
Alyssa ana’Raisa is the reluctant princess heir to the Gray Wolf throne of Fells, a queendom embroiled in a seemingly endless war. Hardened by too many losses, Lyss is more comfortable striking with a sword than maneuvering at court. After a brush with death, she goes on the offensive, meaning to end the war that has raged her whole life. If her gamble doesn’t pay off, she could lose her queendom before she even ascends to the throne.
A life in peril.
Across enemy lines in Arden, young rising star Captain Halston Matelon has been fighting for his king since he was a lýtling. Lately, though, he finds himself sent on ever more dangerous assignments. Between the terrifying rumors of witches and wolfish warriors to the north and his cruel king at home, Hal is caught in an impossible game of life and death.
The shadow of defeat.
Shadowcaster is the second installment in author Cinda Williams Chima's Shattered Realms series. It is important to note that this series takes place 20 or so years after the ending of the Seven Realms series. While there may be guest appearances from some of the cast of that series, the current series focuses on the sons and daughters of the cast of the Seven Realms series. Flamecaster featured Adrian sul’Han, the son of Han Alister and Queen Raisa ana'Marianna, this book features the youngest daughter of the couple, 15-year old Alyssa (Lyss) Ana'Raisa, also known as Lieutenant Gray.
4 years ago, Han Alister was assassinated, and it was also presumed that Adrian was killed at the same time. At least that is what Lyss has been told for years. (If you've read the previous installment, you know what really happened). With the death of her older sister, Lyss has become heir apparent to the crown, but she really doesn't want anything to do with it. After all, she's still young, and her mothers nagging does nothing to change her mind. Lyss is much, much more than a spoiled princess who loves dresses, and is eager to be married to the next available candidate. She is a warrior. She is a soldier. She leads her own army, and she loves and respects each and every single one of them and takes their losses personally. But, like her brother, and father, she isn't safe from the threats of being assassinated.
In typical Chima fashion, Lyss finds herself being pulled towards another new character. This character, who is also featured as one of the voices of this story, is named Halston Matelon. He is a Captain in the Ardenine Army, and therefore he is supposed to be a villain. Yet, he is a soldier who finds himself conflicted between what he is told by his leader, and the girl who is supposed to be some sort of witch, or something like all the other women of Lyss's Queendom. Matelon is between a rock and a hard place. He can either follow orders, or find himself in deeper than he can imagine.
Lyss's connection to Matelon isn't one of insta-holy hell I'm in LOVE! situations. It becomes one of respect and admiration then curiosity. Lyss and Matelon meet several times in battle, and each instance, Lyss comes out on top. I think Hal's preconception of who Lyss really was, was melted away in a really brilliant way. Matelon comes to see Lyss as clever, a brilliant strategist, and one who would do anything to save her people.
There are a lot of characters who make an appearance in this story that you've probably met before if you read the Seven Realms series. Raisa, and her sister Princess Mellony, Dancer, his wife, and kid, plus Captain Byrne. Micah Bayer, and others who made their marks alongside Han and Raisa in the previous series. Jenna and her dragon Flamecaster also make an appearance, as does one of the baddest villains we have really had the pleasure of exploring, Celestine. While sad villain shows up towards the end of the story, she leaves a lasting impression that one can not deny. Only real negative for me is the lack of Ash in the story. Where is he? Why is it taking him and Lila so long to return home?