Shadowcaster is the second book in Cinda Williams Chima’s Shattered Realms series, which is a legacy series of one of my favourites, Seven Realms.
It took me a while to get to this book (it came out in April) because, while I did end up enjoying the first instalment, Flamecaster, I found it falling short of my—admittedly ridiculously high—expectations. When I finally got around to reading Shadowcaster, my expectations were lowered. My thoughts were ‘okay, this series is going to be pretty enjoyable, but it’s just not going to be as unbelievably amazing as Seven Realms, just deal with it.’ But as it turned out, Shadowcaster exceeded every expectation I had, putting itself right up there with the original series.
The first half of the novel is told on a parallel timeline to the events in Flamecaster, this time set back in the Fells, where the bulk of Seven Realms was set. It was perhaps the nostalgia of this familiar setting that scored some points in the beginning, but as the novel progressed I found there to be one stand-out factor that pushed this book just that little bit ahead of the first instalment: Lyss.
Lyss is the younger sister of the first book’s main protagonist, Ash, and also happens to be heir to the Grey Wolf throne. But she is not your typical princess. She is a fierce warrior and excellent military strategist, riding at the head of her army as the Grey Wolf queendom struggles to gain ground against the southern aggressors in a war that has lasted for twenty-five years.
In the second half of the book, we see events linking back to the things that occurred in Flamecaster, and it is incredibly fascinating to see all of this happening from a different point of view, with the people in the Fells only holding half the facts. It works to build up the suspense leading into what is bound to be an engrossing third book in this four-part series.
As with the first book, there are quite a few different points of view in this one, and I will admit to being a little confused as to the timeline when one of the characters (Hal) was first introduced. It didn’t take long for my confusion to be allayed, however, and I found each POV character incredibly fascinating.
Unlike in Flamecaster, where I felt the romance to be a little forced and hard to believe (although I have hope that could be a red herring), I loved Lyss and Hal’s relationship. There was chemistry there right from their first meeting, and it progressed naturally throughout the entire book.
The ending…well, I won’t give away spoilers, but I will say that April 2018 can’t come soon enough!