Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima
Summary from Goodreads:
Alyssa ana’Raisa is the reluctant princess heir to the Gray Wolf throne of Fells, a queendom embroiled in a seemingly endless war. Hardened by too many losses, Lyss is more comfortable striking with a sword than maneuvering at court. After a brush with death, she goes on the offensive, meaning to end the war that has raged her whole life. If her gamble doesn’t pay off, she could lose her queendom before she even ascends to the throne.
Across enemy lines in Arden, young rising star Captain Halston Matelon has been fighting for his king since he was a lýtling. Lately, though, he finds himself sent on ever more dangerous assignments. Between the terrifying rumors of witches and wolfish warriors to the north and his cruel king at home, Hal is caught in an impossible game of life and death.
Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series, this is a thrilling story of the unfathomable costs of war, the allure of dark magic, and two principled and conflicted characters, drawn together despite everything they stand to lose.
This book threw me off a little at the beginning. I knew from the start that it wasn’t going to be a continuation of the first book’s characters, but I thought the timeline was going to start where the first book left off. Sort of like what the author did with her Heir series. New character, but a continuation of the whole story arc. So, once I figured out that this story starts about the same time as the first book I was able to enjoy it more. The characters in this story hear about the events in the first book, and things we heard about in Flamecaster happen in this book, so it all works out in the end. It does eventually move a little bit past the first book’s time line as well.
If you don’t know already, this is a whole new cast of characters. We have Lyss, the princess of Arden and Hal, a soldier from Arden. The two are on opposite sides of a very long war. Both characters have many issues with their lives and the roles they are expected to play. Lyss doesn’t really want to be Queen, but understands her duty. She enjoys being soldier and really wants to change the kingdom and finish the war they have been fighting for so very long. Hal also has issues and though he is loyal to Arden and his father, he has mixed feelings about the King and the war he started. I think deep down Hal would like the war to be over so he could just go home. There is a little bit of instant attraction between these two, but I think they just find each other so different from what they expected that they can’t help themselves.
Breon is the other main character in this story. He is a street musician, but has a special magical touch. He can make people do things with his music, ties into their feelings and thoughts and control them. This is hard to explain without giving to much of the story away. He has a ‘mage mark’ on the back of his neck, that he doesn’t know anything about but people want him because of it. I liked Breon, even when he was doing things he knew he shouldn’t be. There was something about him that makes you want to take him home and help him out.
There is one character from the first book that we see a little bit of, Jenna and of all the characters from the first book I was most glad to see her. The first book left her sitting alone on a beach with no where to go or any one to help her. So I was glad to see her even if it was just glimpses of her story.
A great second installment in this trilogy. I’m not sure how it will all end, but I am very much looking forward to the characters from both books coming together in the next one.