- Charmcaster (Spellslinger #3).
- Sebastien de Castell.
- 432 pages.
- Fantasy / YA / YA Fantasy / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
Kellen, Reichis and Ferius are on their way to Gitabria, a city where amazing inventions are dreamed up and sold across the land of the Seven Sands.
But when the three of them stumble across a tiny mechanical bird, magically brought to life, they quickly realise all is not as it appears.
Meanwhile two strange Argosi appear, carrying secrets from Ferius’ past, together with an unlikely Jan’Tep ally.
And as time ticks on, all the cards in Ferius’ deck point to the emerging tides of war . . .
I won a copy of this book through Readers First.
Starting six months after the ending of the previous book, Shadowblack (which you really need to have read). Charmcaster finds Kellen, Reichis and Ferius traversing a desert on their way to Gitabria. However, as is often the case for Kellen and crew things aren’t going according to plan and they are running from a mage induced lightning storm.
After stopping to stand and fight, the mage who they initially thought was hunting them continues on past the trio, unaware and uncaring. It turns out that the mage isn’t hunting them but is being hunted themselves and is running from a group of Berabesq Faithful (religious zealots).
Doing the right thing, the trio go and attempt to rescue the mage but in the ensuing battle, Ferius is badly injured. After holing up in a Traveller’s Saloon on the Gitabrian border to allow Ferius’s injuries to be treated, yes, to the Argosi booze and gambling are wondrous medicines.
After a while, the intrepid trio, now accompanied by the rescued mage and their familiar, at the behest of an Argosi discordance card depicting a small mechanical bird leave the saloon and resume their journey finding themselves once again heading towards Gitabria and its Capital, Cazaran for the Grand Exhibition.
The image on the discordance card, the small, lifelike, magical and innocuous mechanical bird is the highlight of the aforementioned Gitabrian Grand Exhibition wowing everyone in attendance. But, its invention also has disastrous consequences as the representatives from the other nations all vying to purchase the bird. Something so beautiful and innocent could, in the wrong hands (if they are able to unlock the secrets behind its creation) be turned into something ugly and as the discordance cards suggest used to start a war.
Kellen (an outlaw spellslinger), Ferius, (an Argosi wanderer) and Reichis (Kellen’s talking ‘though only Kellen can understand him’ squirrel cat companion/business partner) are at the core of the tale told in Charmcaster but the rest of the characters we meet (both the good and the bad, some of whom you’ll like, some you’ll dislike, some old and some new) each have their roles to play and all add to the overall story too.
One such character has a familiar with them, a Hyena named Ishak. This leads to some absolutely fantastic exchanges between Reichis and Ishak and their respective business partners especially as Reichis being Reichis (an oh so funny but oh so bad influence) leads Ishak astray.
Reichis adds the humour to Charmcaster, he is a fabulous creation who steals every page that he appears on (obviously, not literally) a murderous and thieving squirrel cat with a bad attitude (for reference think Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy) who likes baths, butter biscuits, eyeballs and murdering! Ferius is her usual often mysterious and obtuse self (we do get a deeper look at her) while Kellen continues to show development and growth.
For Kellen, as the main character (though I’m reluctant to ignore Reichis and Ferius in that statement as I feel that they too deserve equal billing as main characters as they really are a tremendous trio who all contribute so much to the series and in Charmcaster itself, all three are given the opportunity to shine) he still has a tendency to both make mistakes and be naive at times. But, in the capable hands of de Castell he has come on leaps and bounds, now owning up to and learning from his errors, realising that actions have consequences (not just for himself but for others too) and maturing due to the various hardships that he has suffered and adventures he has endured.
The Argosi are a mysterious people akin to wanderers. We know a bit about them and the various paths that they travel from the previous books but not much. However, with Charmcaster, de Castell, for me, pulls back the veil and just like with Ferius gives us a deeper look at the Argosi and their ways. We also get some glimpses at the wider picture and the motivations of the various other nations.
The world continues to grow too with Charmcaster predominantly taking place in another new setting and culture. Cazaran, the capital city of Gitabria comes to life on the pages. The city is split in two by a massive gorge with eight bridges ‘The Cazaran Arches‘ spanning the gorge and connecting the two parts of the capital. The Gitabrians are a nation of inventors who craft and create a plethora of wondrous inventions.
De Castell’s adult fantasy series, The Greatcoats is one of my favourite fantasy series and with Spellslinger, his YA fantasy series he has another winner on his hands too. Generally speaking, I’m not a YA reader and prefer the darker and grittier grimdark style of fantasy over the YA style. However, I’m a huge fan of the Spellslinger series and I feel that whilst labelled as YA, for me, it definitely bridges the divide between YA and adult and that readers of both will be huge fans of the Spellslinger series.
If you’ve read anything by de Castell before then you’ll know what to expect from him and his work. He consistently delivers and his books feature emotion, humour, banter between characters that comes right out the top-drawer, fabulous characters, high-quality world-building and a damn good story full of twists and turns that is written with gusto and Charmcaster is no exception continuing his trend of delivering captivating, fun-filled and adventurous reads.
All in all, Charmcaster is a roller-coaster of a book and an outstanding continuation of the Spellslinger series.
Purchase Charmcaster (Spellslinger #3).
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