Author: Michelle Sagara
Released: January 23rd 2018
It feels like I’ve been waiting forever for the next installment of the Chronicles of Elantra to come out and it’s finally here! Cast in Deception is the thirteenth book in the series (unless you’d like to also count the short story as one, in which case it’s actually fourteen), and thankfully there’s still titles left that start with ‘cast in’ which is a huge relief!
The longer this series goes on, the more I find myself wondering how long it’ll end up being. Am I coming upon the end? Or will it just continue? I’m assuming Michelle Sagara has a planned ending (which I think is a fair assumption, based on her writing techniques), but I haven’t the faintest clue what it’ll entail or when it’ll be. So if somebody else has any ideas, please share? I tried going hunting in the internet for an idea how many books we had left, and I couldn’t find anything (maybe I didn’t look hard enough?). I would love to know how many more I have to look forward to (though I’m totally going to devour any books released, regardless of this knowledge).
Speaking of my search online however, I found a listing on one of the wiki pages, talking about the next installment being a short story…which focuses on Severn. I seriously hope this is true (and a quick peek at Michelle Sagara’s blog indicates that it is – yay!), and I can’t even begin to describe how excited I would be about this happening. Severn is by far one of my favorite characters, but the last few novels I’ve felt like he’s been less involved (which I get – more magical issues result in him having less he can do, no matter how much he’d like to be able to help). Having a novella or short story from his perspective would go a long way to helping with my feelings of abandonment right now (yeah, I may be a little too attached to his character, I know).
I’ve probably spent enough time talking about book numbers and theoretical short stories, time to talk about Cast in Deception. First, I think this may be one of my favorite titles so far. Probably second only to Cast in Courtlight (I think it’s the alliteration I enjoy so much for that one). Upon seeing this title I immediately knew it was going to be a political heavy story, which to an outside may sound boring, but for this series is fantastic (not to mention it’s hard to find a solid fantasy series that also includes inter-racial politicking to this level).
When I think politics and Chronicles of Elantra, my brain immediately jumps to the Barrini. While I know they’re not the only race to have extensive politics (I feel like the last novel proved that pretty well), I do enjoy theirs the most. In many ways Barrini politics reminds me of the politics in classic vampire societies (think White Wolf’s World of Darkness). The fact that they’re immortal just adds to the complexity and intensity (not to mention the time to build up grudges). Anyway, my point is I wasn’t terribly surprised to see that Barrini politics were the driving force behind Cast in Deception; in fact I pretty much expected it (and was thrilled to see it).
One would think that after thirteen novels (and a short story); I would be tired of reading about Private Kaylin Neya and her tendency of taking dangerous risks. But one would be wrong. I love Kaylin’s sense of innocence and naiveté, despite everything she’s gone through. She’s the epitome of hope (and no, I’m not talking about her familiar here).
What is so wonderful about Michelle Sagara’s work here is that she was able to infuse the world with so much emotion. You really feel for all of the characters, not just Kaylin. There are characters we love, ship (cough Severn cough), loathe, love to hate, etc. Together they help to flesh out the world and add context to the events happening around them.
I imagine with such a varied supporting cast that each fan has their own set of favorites. The downside to such a large cast (which is constantly growing, mind you), is that not all of the characters will get their moment to shine, or much screen time every single novel. Which is a shame, but it’s the cost of this writing style. Personally, I’m conflicted here. I adore Bellusudo and loved seeing more of her (especially in the given context), but I very much hated how little Severn appeared. It was wonderful to see more of the cohort – while we’ve gotten to know (and perhaps grow a little tired of) of a couple of them in particular it was refreshing and fascinating to see the rest of their group; particularly as a relaxed unit.
As for the plot itself – it was wonderfully intricate and complex. While there were times it felt like the plot either dragged or was rushed, on the whole it was really enjoyable. It was difficult to know who was behind what, but as that is how politicking frequently goes, I think that means Michelle Sagara did a great job here.
Reading this novel reminded me of some of my favorite moments and extra characters I haven’t thought about in a couple of years. It was a fun reminder, to say the least. I’d like to say that I plan on going back and reread the whole series, but to be honest I’m not sure I can promise I’ll have that much time anytime soon. Which is a shame. Regardless, I can’t wait until the Severn short story comes out. Hopefully we’ll get the title of the next novel sooner rather than later.