Holy crud, it feels like I haven’t done a series review in forever. Looking back it seems that the last one was in December. Meaning, it has been forever! Lets see if I still remember how to do this.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers Ahead
The Shattered Realms by Cinda Williams Chima
Flamecaster – 5/5
Shadowcaster – 5/5
Stormcaster – 5/5
Deathcaster – 5/5
What I Liked:
Connection to Seven Realms; Which, I suppose, when it is a sequel series that would make sense? I just like how old characters come back, old story lines are explored, and we get more detail on other things.
Magic; For a magic system closer to soft magic than hard, I’ve always liked how this magic system works. It’s mysterious and has a bit of principal. Each culture looks at magic differently which probably adds greatly to my appreciation. Different cultures looking at magic differently? Seems right. Then in this book we get more on it, more on different types, and more on what it means. I appreciate that.
Politics; I always love a good political drama and this is one of them. It goes over the whole world and their different cultures in different ways, which I really adore. Thanks to the Seven Realms, we have a strong foundation of our Gray Wolf Queens and their politics, so the expansion felt nice.
Religions and Cultures; This is perhaps the best, and my favorite part of this series and of The Seven Realms. Cinda Williams Chima has a skill, in my opinion, for crafting the different cultures, and religions and then having the way they interact make sense. There is a religion that hates magic, one that loves it, ancient spirituals, and more. We have Queendoms, Empires, Kingdoms. We have the ways in which culture, religion, and people influence politics, much like how society works in real life.
Gray Wolf Queens; I always love my Queens, their heritage, and their journey to become queens. I also love how they work as guides for their lineage as images of protection.
The Death of Han; As a note, if you just skipped over the spoiler note, then that is your fault. Yes Han, MC from series one dies. He dies early on, and his death alone made m want to throw the book away. However, his death was necessary and ultimately the catalyst for this whole series. So as much as it broke my heart I’m happy it was done. It was a character death that was necessary and I can accept that.
Ash; He was a healer turned assassin and I am okay with that. His journey was a task of pretending to be dead at every turn. He was kept from his family for far too long, and had to watch his father die. I support him and what he had to go through for his life.
Lyssa; The New Queen. She never wanted to be the queen. Her sister was more suited, but Lyssa became the queen her people needed after becoming the leader of their military. She established herself in a way different than her mother, or her sister. She established herself as the best chance the whole continent has for peace. What ever path she picks (as laid out by the end with her and her future husband) I know that it’ll be the best for the Seven Realms.
Destin; Hello, angsty evil boy. I love you. I think I mentioned it before but the bad guys who are evil but can be good are my favorite type of characters. I like truly bad characters that are more gray than black. Destin was such a gray character. He was forced to become what he was, but also accepted it to protect those he cared about. He was not a good guy who could be a good guy in disguise; he was basically bad no matter how I want to spin it. And the fact that everyone is like “okay” about it, and knows not to trust him makes it better.
Other POV characters; Thank you for your support. You were brilliant, but I didn’t have the same sort of reaction as I did for my Wolf babies or Destin.
Other Secondary Characters; They were lovely, developed, and fantastic to read about. I am happy with how they went on.
Relationships; I like how the relationships are established, developed, and then finalized. However, the most important relationships in these books are typically those of families. Families and blood fight for each other, and I find that the most interesting aspect of these books. Whether it is Lyssa and Ash who are trying to get to each other, or the Empress and the Magemarked as the Empress tries to gather them to kill them. Then there is the relationship between people and the crown, or people and their clans. I just appreciate how all hold weight and can shift the weight of the world.
Complicated drama, built on more than just miscommunication; There is miscommunication and secrets, held or given for specific reasons. However there is also political drama, drama from information that is not known, and other sorts. The drama between characters tends to come down to less about the mistaken words, but more about morals, ethics, and beliefs that each character holds. It is ideals that come into conflict, not words that cause conflict, and that is what I like.
Deaths of Characters; I accept you in this book, because it is necessary for the plot to continue and holds far more weight than simply disappearing.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Covers; The fact that I can rant on this specific topic for paragraphs is enough to say that if there is something I actually disliked (i.e. actually strongly disliked to the point where I’d say “hated” IRL) about the series it is this. The covers were changed at book 2. According to Chima’s blog and website (and a few other things I read) she decided to change the covers after someone made a comment about them. It was something along the lines of that this was the next book and that all the covers were too similar that they couldn’t tell. IMO I totally disagree, having seen the covers as symbols or metaphors for the book itself. Instead we now have the CGI rendered characters that are probably the one type of cover I can not stand, making this a very personal vendetta against the covers. I think, however, if the books started from book 1 this way I’d be more disappointed than any thing else, but since it started at two I just have anger towards it. I think that they went from high symbolism to just the characters, which can be cool to see what they look like, I just find it in many ways a downgrade. Not to say the art is. In an honest objective look at the renderings, they are quite good. It’s nice to see the characters and would have been cool to see how the Magemarks looked on skin. Additionally, the color schemes still relate to the themes of the book wonderfully. I just can’t stand CGI renderings on covers. — To say that I went googling tried to find the rumored “original” cover editions of the second book that had the original cover before the switch, would be a completely accurate statement. I searched. I thought I found one, and I did not. Fury and desperation plagued my emotions in regards to this one topic. In some ways its a betrayal I’ll never get over, not that my opinion matters to her — as it shouldn’t. So I’ll moan and groan in peace within my private rants.
A bit more information on the bad guy controlling minds; I hope that there is another series after this one dying further into that magic and bad guy. The religion vs. magic politics were so nice. As was the concept of this bad guy. I’d like to know more.
Why You Should Read:
Read the first series first (The Seven Realms), so that you can get an idea of how the Queendom of The Fells works. Otherwise you can read this series, but some things may not make sense (how The Fells works, how those with magic are viewed, why the Wolves are so important.) I think that this is an excellent continuation series that takes the original as a framework and base, and expands outwards. I recommend this series to my friends all the time because I find it a great YA fantasy series.
Time Taken To Read
??? + 5hr 40min
Issue is that I read Flamecaster and Shadowcaster before I began timing myself.