Book Review: Cast in Flight by Michelle Sagara

Posted October 31, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Cast in Flight by Michelle Sagara

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Cast in Flight by Michelle Sagara
Series: The Chronicles of Elantra #12
Genres: Fantasy
Published by MIRA on October 25, 2016
Pages: 544
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also in this series: Cast in Conflict

Also by this author: Cast in Sorrow, Cast in Flame, Cast in Honor, Cast in Wisdom, Cast in Deception, Cast in Oblivion, The Emperor's Wolves, Sword and Shadow

Twelfth in The Chronicles of Elantra fantasy series for Young Adults and revolving around Kaylin Neya, still a private with the focus on Moran and the Aerians.

My Take

I don’t know why, but Cast in Flight was somewhat unsatisfying. Which makes no sense to me, as important discoveries are made, we learn the back history of the Aerians and something about how the Dragons view their children, Kaylin learns some unwelcome but necessary home truths (as does Moran), and, ahem, the Everlasting Emperor comes for dinner. At last, *grin*

The focus here is on Aerian conflicts, and we do learn quite a bit about these birdmen. And so does Kaylin, to her cost. Moran also learns how the Dragon secretaries and undersecretaries refer to the Aerians, lol: those harpies.

The politics are rife within Cast in Flight, and as always, Kaylin’s choices only make things worse. After those “home truths” sink in, I’m curious as to how Kaylin will change in future installments. You do have to feel for the Hawklord with the balancing act he must perform between keeping the Emperor from flaming him to dust and “indulging” all those political liabilities.

It’s family issues in which love and expectations clash. It’s cultural issues which tick off the interested parties who plot to murder to “rectify” the wrongs. And it takes awhile for the consequences to Kaylin’s Aerian friends to sink in to my head as well as Kaylin’s. It was annoying as Sagara is confusing as a writer anyway in this series, but I can see where that same confusion could be mirroring Kaylin’s inability to understand as well.

More conflict exists with Moran’s decisions and her supposed role within her species. And I cannot blame Moran one bit for flipping her species the bird! Nor can I blame her for her reasons for doing as she did, for not fighting back. Still more conflicts prove that it doesn’t matter your species, religion, race, status, whatever…we all have similar insecurities, dreams, goals, fears, and more.

Oh, man, I did love Kaylin’s speech about fear and respect to the Emperor. I also appreciated the Emperor pointing out to Kaylin the reasons why she must learn to act with care. Oh, boy. Never thought of all that!

Kaylin does crack me up with her ambivalence about Nightshade. She thinks he deserves to be hurt (oh, yeah!), but not by Annarion (yeah…okay…). On the one hand, Nightshade has lost so much, but on the other hand, he’s done nothing for others. It’s so evocative of humanity’s conflicts in which we can see both sides of an issue.

I love what Kaylin has been doing with the foundling children and the Tha’alani. Quite the contrast with what the Arkon tells us about children born to the Dragons, who are not considered Dragons. It’s part of his speech to explain Makuron to Kaylin.

The Story

Private Kaylin Neya already has Dragons and Barrani as roommates. Adding one injured, flightless Aerian to her household should be trivial. Sure, the Aerian is Sergeant Moran dar Carafel, but Kaylin’s own sergeant is a Leontine, the definition of growly and fanged. She can handle one Aerian.

But when a walk to the Halls of Law becomes a street-shattering magical assassination attempt on the sergeant, Kaylin discovers that it’s not the guest who’s going to be the problem: it’s all of the people who suddenly want Moran dar Carafel dead. And though Moran refuses to tell her why she’s being targeted, Kaylin is determined to discover her secret and protect her at all costs — even if keeping Moran safe means dealing with Aerian politics, angry dragons, and something far more sinister.

The Characters

Lord Private Kaylin Neya is Chosen and marked by Nightshade, although this doesn’t play into Cast in Flight very much. Helen is Kaylin’s house. Yes, she’s a sentient building, and I want one! Hazielle was Helen’s first tenant. Kaylin’s familiar, a tiny dragon who can morph into a MUCH larger one, protects her and helps her to see magic (Cast in Peril, 8).

Kaylin has a wide range of housemates: Lord Bellusdeo is the only female dragon in Elantra which makes her the focus of the Emperor, and the injured Sergeant Moran dar Carafel (Cast in Honor, 11), an Aerian in charge of the infirmary of the Halls of Law. Then there are the Barrani whom Kaylin rescued in Cast in Sorrow, 9: Annarion is Nightshade’s very angry brother, and Mandoran has a quirky sense of humor. Kyuthe to each other, they are trying to come to terms with being back in the world.

The Halls of Law consist of…

…three divisions: the Hawks who walk a beat and investigate crime, the Swords who perform riot control, and the Wolves who are the black ops side. Kaylin is employed by…

…the Hawks who are…
…commanded by Lord Grammayre, an Aerian, the Hawklord. Corporal Lord Severn Handred had rescued Kaylin when they lived in the fief; now he’s her partner, having been seconded from the Wolves. Other friends of Kaylin’s in the Hawks include Teela and Tain, both Barrani; Clint, an Aerian; and, Tanner is a human. Hanson is the Hawklord’s personal assistant. Other Hawks include Caitlin, who is the office mother, er, I mean, manager; Sergeant Marcus Kassan, a Leontine lion shifter, who is in charge of the day-to-day of the Hawks; and, Rakkia.

The Aerians are…
…birdmen with wings who can fly with an affinity for Air, but they are not shifters. Their ruling caste, the dar Carafel, live in the Southern Reach. I think Gennet was Moran’s grandmother. Lillias was condemned for her actions and made outcast. Aguila dar Carafel is an Arcanist. Fauconne is his father and the castelord.

The Barrani are…
…a race of immortal beings and deadly enemies to the Dragons. The Lady is Consort to the Lord of the High Halls and mother to the Barrani. Kaylin has had a connection with Lord Ynpharion ever since Cast in Sorrow. Lord Evarrim, Teela’s cousin, uses a lot of Arcane magic, and he despises Kaylin. The other lost Barrani included Sedarias, who had been the leader, and Terrano who chose to stay.

The Dragons…
…rule in Elantra, specifically the Everlasting Emperor, Darranatos, who claims Elantra as his hoard. The Arkon, a.k.a., Lannagaros, is the the oldest of the Dragons with the library as his hoard. The loyal Lord Diarmat is struggling to teach Kaylin etiquette. He has still not found his hoard. Lord Emmerian is neither a possessive nor an aggressive Dragon.

The Tha’alani are…
…a native race of telepaths with an affinity for Water, who are used by the emperor to question suspects and victims. Ybelline Rabon’alani is their castelord and a friend of Kaylin’s (Cast in Silence, 5). Nevoran is a young man in the Tha’alanari, that branch of the Tha’alani who are strong enough to keep their experience with outsiders’ thoughts from flooding the group racial memory. Scoros is part of the Tha’alani Council.

Elani Street is…
…part of Kaylin and Severn’s beat and the heart of the Emperor’s hoard. It’s also where the magic shoppes are located, including the Keeper’s Garden where Evanton rules and maintains a balance between Air, Earth, Water, and Fire. Grethan is his disabled Tha’alani apprentice (Cast in Secret, 3). (Kaylin’s familiar likes Grethan.) Margot does have an Oracular gift, but is mostly a fraud and Kaylin hates her. Caven is a greedy human.

Master Sabrai is head of the Oracular Halls, home to the Oracles, people touched by visions. Marya is the head of the midwives guild.

The fiefs are…

…seven “neighborhoods”, Seven Towers, to which criminals flee, as they are outside the Emperor’s hoard. Turns out they were originally set up as protective barriers against the Shadows.

Nightshade is…
…ruled by Lord Nightshade, a.k.a., Lord Calarnenne, an outcast Barrani who marked Kaylin. Meliannos is his dragonkiller sword. Karis is the Aerian who sought refuge with Nightshade centuries ago; he’s now one of the statues.

Barren is…
…the fief ruled by Lord Tiamaris, a Dragon, who sees it as his hoard (Cast in Silence, 5); Tara is his Avatar partner, the Tower.

Ravellon is…
…the doomed fief (Cast in Ruin, 7) where the Shadow, Gilbert Rayelle, was born (Cast in Honor, 11) and more Shadows reside. Makuron the Black is the Outcaste Dragon Lord who rules here.

Each species has its own racial Caste Court which tries those cases which involve only those within its species. Their species law is subordinate to the Emperor’s laws, which he can change as he pleases. Bletsian means blessing of wind, of air. The Illumen praevolo is born to the Aerians at a time of trouble. Shadow is a transformative magic, and its study is illegal. The etande is something like a sky bridge from one world to another. And we still don’t know what an erenne is! Arcanists are independent mages. To be kyuthe is to be chosen as family.

The Cover and Title

The cover is mostly a range of yellows from the burnt orange of the cliffs on which the black leather-clad Kaylin is standing to the stormy yellows of the sky in which two Aerians are flying over the distant city of Elantra. Kaylin herself, her long brown hair flowing, has her back to us, but she has twisted her body to look back and off to the right. The vest she wears bares her arms with her bracer-encased left arm crossing her chest, her hand clasping the textured black cloak she’s wearing. Her right arm with its arcane tattoos is front and center. The author’s name, series information, and title are in white in varying sizes.

The title is the focus, for Moran’s entire purpose for the Aerians is Cast in Flight.

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