Book Review: Cast in Courtlight by Michelle Sagara

Posted March 6, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Pages: 488
Publisher: Luna Books
Review source: Library
Rating: 5
Reviewed by: Kathy Davie
Series: Chronicles of Elantra, 2

Second in the Chronicles of Elantra fantasy series revolving around a young woman with unprecedented power.

My Take
I don’t know if I’m getting used to Sagara, or if she’s actually giving out more information in her stories. It’s still tricky, though, I’m still confused on certain points such as some interactions between the Lord of the March and the Lord of the Green, and you must pay attention throughout.

I keep trying to figure out why it is I like this series so much, and it’s mostly for the camaraderie and the teasing that takes place among the Hawks. There’s my intense curiosity about Kaylin and what new powers she will manifest. And, of course, I do enjoy her irreverence! I also like the strangeness Sagara has created, pulling from fey tales, shifter stories, and human frailties, bringing in touches of so many other fantasy authors—I definitely detect some Mercedes Lackey when it comes to the Aerians! And it all influences Sagara even though she has created something completely different. Sagara has built an entire new world with different class and species levels.

All seen and interpreted through the eyes of a girl who is naive in so many aspects of this world in which she lives and yet so knowing of the human side of evil. It’s this human side and her own experiences as a child that influence her today. It’s all about children. Saving. Protecting. Because of them that she is willing to learn what she must. In that learning, in her new experiences widening her narrow view, Kaylin learns of perspective and that her interpretation is not the only one.

At this point, Kaylin has learned that “the Law existed for a reason”, and that it didn’t matter which side of the bridge you lived on as evildoers lurked at all levels of society.

Particularly, in this story, Kaylin learns of the Barrani and what they must endure to survive and thrive.

The Story
It’s coming up on Festival in Elantra, the worst time of the year with all the scams, the “privileged” diplomats, and the huge influx of tourists from all over the Empire of Ala’an.

Everyone seems worried about Kaylin’s safety during Festival and colludes to keep her out of the system, or at least, protect her, starting with an enforced stay in Nightshade’s castle.

Only, it doesn’t work, and Kaylin is forced to undertake a quest of life and death.

The Characters
There are three peacekeeping forces and three Lords of Law: the Lord of Hawks, Lord Grammayre, the Hawklord, heads up the Hawks—the investigators; the Lord of Swords and his men are the peacekeepers—the street cops, if you will; and, the Lord of Wolves and his people are its black ops with the Shadow Wolves the “darkest face the Law could turn on the populace”.

Private Kaylin Neya, the former Elianne, is still a Hawk despite the emperor knowing of her abilities. She’s also learned some hard truths about Severn’s actions all those years ago. Enough that she’s forgiven him. And she’ll forgive him even more when she has to relive that night in his memories. Marya is a midwife for whom Kaylin heals patients in trouble.

Lord Andellen is one of the Barrani guards who accompany her throughout; Samaran is another.

The Hawks include:
Iron Jaw, more formally known as Sergeant Marcus Kassan, a Leontine Hawk. Caitlin is his human assistant. They all fear Caitlin’s wrath. Tanner and Clint are Aerians (Kaylin loves touching Clint’s forbidden flight feathers); Sesti is Clint’s wife and they’ve just had a baby. Tain is Teela’s Barrani partner. Red—never call him Reginald—is their medical examiner. Moran, an Aerian, is one of the Hawks’ medics. Corporal Severn Handred is still with the Hawks, per Kaylin’s request.

Lord Nightshade is an outcaste Barrani fieflord, a crime lord, who has lent his name to his fief where Severn and Kaylin once lived. The mark he has placed on Kaylin is considered abomination by the other Barrani as it marks her as his consort. A mere human!?!

Lord Sanabalis is a Dragon mage who knows a lot more than Kaylin gives him credit for; he is about to become a very effective threat.

Lady An’teela has been caught and forced to Court where Kaylin learns just how high her contacts reach. She claims Kaylin as kyuthe, a very powerful claim that will be repeated by others. Lirienne is the Lord of the West March. The castelord is the Lord of the High Halls; his wife is the Consort and responsible for naming, the survival of the Barrani. The Lord of the Green is the heir to the castelord, and both are dying. The Lady of the Barrani is Green and March’s sister; she will wed the new castelord.

Lord Tiamaris will be their third partner in this investigation in the fiefs. A dragonshifter with high-level magic and access. A powerful being with whom Sergeant Kassan has issues.

The Immortals were created by the Old Ones. A rune and sigil was carved into each Immortal, their name, but the names bound them to the Old Ones. An imprisonment that some could not tolerate. Ybelline is Tha’alani, but one with whom Kaylin could be comfortable. But she is the emperor’s. Marrin is Leontine, and she runs the human orphanage in Elantra. Catti is one of her young charges and desperately ill. Dock is another. Amos is the foundling home’s guard. Callantine is one of the powerful, pompous, and arrogant Imperial mages who shows up for the autopsy. Burlan Oaks runs a tavern that Severn frequents.

Lord Evarrim, an Arcanist, is a Barrani lord who takes an undue and threatening interest in Kaylin.

Think of the Aerians as birdmen, but not shifters. Barrani are the upper class in this society, although not the uppermost. Vicious, cruel, and they seem to have the appearance of what I would consider Fey. The Leontine are lion shifters. Tha’alani, a.k.a., Truthseekers, are mind readers. Their touch is NOT delicate. Arcanists are mages who work independently of the Dragon Emperor. Fieflords are independent rulers of large neighborhoods outside the city proper. They are outside the law and while “no Barrani lord need heed the mark of an outcaste, no outcaste is required to heed the law of the Dragon Emperor.” Theft and murder is a way of life in the fiefs.

The Cover
The cover is a contrast to the dark story inside with its golden background in a collage of palace and intricately detailed walls with a lighter gold of Kaylin’s bare back as her tattooed arms maneuver to fasten the back of her turquoise satin dress.

The title indicates where Kaylin is Cast in Courtlight where the Barrani can more easily view, threaten, or use her.

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