Wednesday, August 17, 2016

#Wednesday Review - Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Shattered Realms # 1
Format: E-Galley, 535 pages
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

A burning vengeance.
Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. The son of the queen of the Fells, Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?
A blood-based curse.
Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told the mysterious 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.
Destiny’s fiery hand.
Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.
Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.

Flamecaster is the first installment in Author Cinda Williams Chima's Shattered Realms series. This is a series that takes place TWENTY years after Chima's Seven Realms series which ended with the release of The Crimson Crown. A story that I am slowly but surely working towards thanks to my library.  Flamecaster has lots of connections to the former series, including the appearance of Han Alister, High Wizard of Fells, and former street thief who ended up marrying Raisa ana'Marianna the queen of Fells. 

While both Hans and Raisa were main characters in the previous series, it is time for their son Adrian (Ash) sul'Han to take the reigns of this new series. I often state that it is highly encouraged to finish one series before jumping into another. This is true with Flamecaster as well as I have finally come to realize after reading The Demon KingCase in point. There is a scene in this book, which I shall not spoil, that has both Hans and his son Ash in it. 

It really pushes the story forward and sets Ash on his path to becoming his own man, with his own destiny, that brings him to meet yet another character named Jenna Brandelow. Jenna is apparently the daughter of another character that I haven't met yet. She's got a strange tattoo on the back of her neck which nobody can really explain. Like Ash, she survived something horrible that sends her on the way to becoming a fighter. She also becomes one of the most desirable and hunted characters in this entire story. 

Ash and Jenna's journey is told in alternating narratives. The story begins when both characters are barely teenagers, to FOUR years after both have experienced a painful loss that sets them on a road that will eventually bring them together in a desire to bring down one of the most villainous of the villains, Gerard Montaigue. While this story is centered around Ash and Jenna, it features secondary characters like Lila Barrowhill who you can't ignore. In fact, I dare say that Lila is seriously badass and can hold her own against anyone.

Flamecaster has a whole lot of action, along with magic, a curious magic that makes its presence felt, and a curious ending that has left me wondering about the synopsis for the next book in the series. Chima has a tendency to write large novels that are rather large in length. I am not going to say anything negative about the length of the story because really there isn't much she could have taken out without affecting the characters, the setting, and the story itself. 

Ash is a character that I think readers will come to like as much as I do. He walks the line between good and evil. He's trained to heal, and to kill. He heals those who have the misfortune of getting in the way of the villain, while hunting down those who need to be dead. But, it his magical abilities, his eventual connection to Jenna, that I had the most fun with.  I will say that while Ash gets an abundance of the credit for carrying this story, don't mistake Jenna for a character who didn't earn her way by becoming diabolical and slippery as a snake as the King's men are chasing her down. She has her own crosses to bear, and perhaps a few secrets that will become clearer as the story progresses.

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