Book Review: Cast in Deception by Michelle Sagara

February 24, 2020 Book Reviews 3

Book Review:  Cast in Deception 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 Deception by Michelle Sagara
Genres: Fantasy
Published by Mira Books on February 1, 2018
Pages: 512
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Cast in Sorrow, Cast in Flame, Cast in Honor, Cast in Flight, Cast in Wisdom, Cast in Oblivion

Thirteenth in The Chronicles of Elantra fantasy series and revolving around Lord Private Kaylin Neya, a young Hawk, a policeman of sorts with healing powers and the people with whom she’s surrounded.

My Take

It’s politics…Barrani politics! A situation that only becomes more complicated when you add in the cohort members. Argh. Of course, there’s also the emperor’s temper to consider when it comes to Bellusdeo’s safety.

Sagara uses primarily third person protagonist point-of-view from Kaylin’s perspective, although there is a smattering of third person global subjective POV.

“Kaylin sometimes felt like companions were just a form of portable criticism, like portable mirrors, but less helpful.”

It was war that pushed the Barrani into this experiment, but only Sedarias wanted to go. She wanted the power, for its safety. The rest…they were expendable. And they knew it.

We’ve definitely moved into greater turmoil with the rest of the cohort lost and the Barrani betraying the High Court, agitating for war. It doesn’t help that the Shadow is subverting other Barrani.

What doesn’t help me, is how vague Sagara is in so many ways, teasing with hints and suggestions, and rarely outright saying anything! It is a complex world Sagara has created with incredibly complex ideas — those Barrani! The fiefs, Ravellon, Shadows, all contribute to the confusion.

Interesting…Teela wants to move in with Kaylin and the rest.

And yet I find it absolutely fascinating. Even if the Barrani believe love is a weakness, which Kaylin believes has value.

The Story

The elemental Water is upset enough to throw Kaylin at the West March, a Barrani war band brings the threat of war with the High Court in revolt, Barrani Lords are colluding with a fieflord to enter Ravellon.

And Annarion is determined to free the damned while Sedarias intends to take over her position in the family. Teela. Teela can either disavow those she is close to or join them…and accept the cohort’s fate.

A cohort that is missing.

The Characters

A former child of the fiefs, Lord Private Kaylin Neya, a Hawk, is also Chosen, marked with glyphs that give her power even though she’s allergic to certain magics, and marked by Nightshade. Hope is Kaylin’s miniature dragon familiar who helps her to “see”. Helen is Kaylin’s sentient house. Kaewenn Bellusdeo, a warrior queen and the only female dragon in existence and who resents, hotly, the Emperor’s interest (Cast in Ruin, 7), is one of Kaylin’s housemates and a friend.

Corporal Lord Severn Handred grew up with Kaylin in the fiefs until the incident. He went into the Wolves and was then seconded to the Hawks to partner up with Kaylin.

The cohort is…
…twelve Barrani “honored” a millennium ago, intended to transform into supersoldiers to fight the Draco-Barrani war, and only recently freed. Annarion, Nightshade’s angry brother, is the bloodline heir, and Mandoran, who is the least reverent and another bloodline heir, are Kaylin’s housemates (freed in Cast in Sorrow, 9).

Sedarias, the bossy one, is yet another bloodline heir — and angry. She’s also coming to Elantra but has been lost on the portal paths with her friends: Allaron, Valliant, Fallessian, Serralyn, Torrisant, Karian, and Eddorian. Terrano of Allasarre had been a part of them, but is no longer, for he chose complete freedom and can no longer interact with his “family”.

Corporal Teela, a.k.a., Lord An’Teela of the Barrani High Halls who carries one of the three, a Hawk and Kaylin’s friend, had been a member of the cohort but had escaped.

The Halls of Law

There are three halls: the Hawks who walk a beat and investigate crime, the Wolves are black ops, and the Swords who perform riot control.

The Hawks are…
…commanded by Lord Grammayre, the Hawklord. Hanson is his attaché. The Hawks include Clint (Aerian); Tanner (human); Sergeant Marcus “Ironjaw” Kassan, a Leontine lion shifter, who is in charge of the day-to-day of the Hawks; Caitlin is the office mother, er, I mean, manager; and, Red who works in the morgue. The Barrani Hawks include Tain, who is Teela’s partner and greatly desires to be bored; Corporal Danelle, who handles difficulties; and, Corporals Tagraine and Canatel, who are in trouble. Sergeant Moran dar Carafel (Cast in Honor, 11), an Aerian who is training her replacement as head of the infirmary of the Halls of Law.

The Barrani are…
…immortal, cold, and powerful. A Barrani will betray anyone at the drop of a hat. The High Lord of the High Halls rules. His younger brother is Lirienne, the Lord of the West March, a Barrani territory. The Lady is their sister, the Consort to the Lord of the High Halls, and mother to the Barrani. Both brothers, their sister, and Teela consider Kaylin kyuthe, family. Kaylin has had a connection, ever since Cast in Sorrow with Lord Ynpharion who hates and despises her. Iberrienne is Eddorian’s brother.

Lord Barian is the Warden of the West March, second only to Lirienne but not a Lord of the High Court. He is responsible for Alsanis. His mother DESPISES Kaylin, and she’s leading the war band.

The Test of Name is a trial by which a Barrani becomes a lord; those who fail the test never return. The Hallionne are way stations created by the Ancients. Hallionne Alsanis is where the cohort has “resided”. The Dreams of Alsanis are giant eagles. Hallionne Orbaranne appears as a new Avatar; she was mortal, not Barrani, when she chose to become the heart of the Hallionne. Hallionnes Kariastos (one of his Avatars is of a water dragon) and (Winston) Bertolle and his brothers are also awake.

The Tha’alani are…
…a native race of telepaths with an affinity for Water, who had been used by the Emperor. Ybelline Rabon’alani is their castelord and a friend of Kaylin’s (Cast in Silence, 5).

Elantra is…
…a city/state ruled by a dragon, the Eternal Emperor. Lord Diarmat is supposed to be teaching Kaylin etiquette. The Arkon is the oldest dragon and his hoard is the Imperial Library. When a dragon finds his/her hoard, it is considered the mark of true adulthood.

Elani Street is…
…Kaylin’s usual beat. It also holds the Keeper’s Garden where Evanton rules and maintains a balance between Air, Earth, Water, and Fire, keeping the world real by binding the wild elements. Grethan is Evanton’s disabled Tha’alani apprentice (Cast in Secret, 3).

The East Warrens is a very dangerous neighborhood.

The fiefs are…

…composed of seven criminal neighborhoods, six of which surround the original fief, Ravellon, which exists in all worlds. Each of the six hold a Tower created by an Ancient, guardian outposts that keep Ravellon and its Shadows from spilling into Elantra. The Towers choose the being who will rule a fief, the fieflord who will provide the name of the fief itself. Ferals are Shadow dogs, Barrani who transformed, that haunt the fiefs.

Nightshade is…
…both fief and lord, and he is outcast from the Barrani. He does carry Meliannos, one of the three. The Avatar of his Tower is ancient and not inclined towards mortals.

Tiamaris is…
…a “new” fief; it used to be Barren. Its fieflord is now Lord Tiamaris, a dragon who has found his hoard. Tara is the Avatar of the Tower and both are friends of Kaylin’s.

Maggaron is a Norannir and Bellusdeo’s Ascendant (bodyguard); Bellusdeo had been a sword in his hand when Maggaron had been enslaved by Shadow in Ravellon.

Candallar is…
…ruled by Lord Candallar, a Barrani outcast.

Knowing a True Name gives one power over another. Aerians are birdmen; Leontines are lion shifters.

Shadows are…
…evil and the reason the Towers and fiefs exist. Part of Shadow, Spike, an historian whose shape can change to suit his environment, started his appearance as a steel butterfly in the West March. Gilbert Rayelle, a Shadow, was born in Ravellon (Cast in Honor).

The Cover and Title

The cover is of grays and greens with Kaylin in her leather vest and pants, her long dark hair flowing behind, stepping along one of the portal paths lined with tall, tall trees, coming toward us with a ball of light, Spike, hovering over her left hand. In the background is the tower of a Hallionne. Almost all of the text is in white in a serif font with an info blurb starting below Kaylin’s waist with the author’s name directly below it. The only colored text is a testimonial in a lime green. Beneath that is the series info with the title underneath that at the bottom.

The title is too many events within the story, too many that are Cast in Deception.

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