Thoughts while Re-reading – Shadowblack

Thoughts while Re-reading is back with the second instalment of Sebastien de Castell’s Spellslinger Series and part of my Count down to Queenslayerre-read. If you would like to check out all may thoughts on the first book it can be found here.

Again this is a discussion post so there will be spoilers! If you are looking how I felt about it first time a round my Spoiler-free review can be found here. I tend to write these posts while reading so they become a bit of a stream of thought, riding the highs and the lows as they come.

I thought that this wasn’t my favourite of the series so far but boy was I wrong. I forgot how many laugh out loud moments this had, how much detailed world building we were treated too and how much joy the last line brought to my heart!

Warning Spoilers Ahead

Part 1 – Way of Water
Chapters 1-10

We are just thrown straight into the action on this one! De Castell knows what we came for and delivers, starting us off with some Squirrel-cat burglary and the delightful knowledge that Reichis has a cute fluffy tubby butt! It’s four months after the events of Spellslinger and Kellen is now a full outcast, we get glimpses of the close relationship he has now developed with both Reichis and Ferius, despite him not really understanding them or their ways.

Again, what really draws me into these books is the world building. It is just immense! In this section alone we learn more of the nuisances of the JanTep, the complexity of their magic, and how their arrogance and vanity are their true weak points. These societal traits are also evident in Kellen and he is slowly becoming aware of them.

We also meet a new Argosi and learn more about thier “Path”, such as Ferius’ Argosi name “the path of the wandering Daisy”! Honestly, if I was Ferius I also wouldn’t introduce myself in that manner. It doesn’t hold a lot of gravitas. I love that both the Argosi have the gift of the gab, there is a bluntness to both of them that also seems to differ, it is difficult to explain but they just have a great subtly to their characterisation. I just love them, their calm yet cunning way of talking their way out of situations, their communication with their cards is fascinating to me. What makes all this world building so successful is we are learning along with Kellen, as he gleams more about the Argosi ways, uncovering little bits of meaning in each of the cards and how they use them to convey their stories.

Also MORE SHADOWBLACK!!! The thought of a shadowblack plague is interesting, but also strangely hopeful for Kellen, their might be a cure.

PART 2 – WAY OF WIND
CHAPTERS 11- 31

I think I might have to choose the way of the Argosi for myself. I kinda love Ferius’ choice to make her own way and her declaration to the world about who she is! OK, I also love that Reichis joins in but less face it that fluffy little murder machine can do no wrong in my eyes.

Shalla is back and of course she has mastered a complex spell, far beyond her years! Can you tell I don’t like her all that much? I am half torn by her, she obviously cares for Kellen but her arrogance and obsession with power just rubs me the wrong way. She just cant see how much hurt was inflicted on Kellen by their father. She is both knowledgeable yet naive in really stark contrast and unlike Kellen she doesn’t seem concerned by that.

We have been introduced to the mysterious Dexan, a Spellslinger and personification of all that Kellen hopes he can be. These scenes are a little heart breaking in the most beautifully subtle way. We see Kellen’s joy at thinking there might be a cure for the shadowblack, of him realising that you can survive on a little magic and wit as a spellslinger and we see how he might have walk away from Ferius. Ferius sees that too, it shows so much through her anger with Kellen how much she actualy cares for him and it really is a beautiful part of the book. Her frustration of him not understanding that she is trying to teach him and take care of him turns to anger in a brief moment, and Kellen really doesnt understand those feelings.

This is the greatness of de Castell writing as right after that revealing section , where we encounter a new land, uncover a mystery and challenge Ferius and Kellen’s relationship we get what I concider to be one of my favourite scenes in the whole series. To me it is so hilarious it breaks the tension effortlessly. It has caused me to thrust this book into peoples hands and make them read the page and a half of pure gold. I am talking about the BATH SCENE! I didn’t think I could love Reichis any more, we know him to be a sassy, snarky, sneak thief with a murderous streak whose tubby little butt can be kind and sweet when he really wants to and now we can add pampered, bath and butter biscuit loving squirrel-cat to the list.

In fact this section really ramps up the comic relief as we are treated to Ferius teaching Kellen how to flirt! I completely forgot that this was part of the plot. We did learn how hopeless Kellen was at talking with his female classmates that he really could use the pep talk. Honestly, I think this should be compulsory reading for teenage boys, interested in talking to any women in there life. It has valuable information, such as “shut up and listen”. I bet she would have advised against cheesey chat up lines but it does make for a giggle and its nice to see Kellen try on the charisma of the Argosi for a change. Then again, I enjoy Kellen’s completely socially awkward and ineptitude. I like that he isn’t the perfect hero ready for anything and that he has to strive to learn all these skills.

PART 3 – WAY OF Thunder
CHAPTERS 32 – 43

Yet another magic system had come into play. Whisper Magic! There is just such a fantastic way in which information is imparted to the reader. Here we learn all about a completely new system though a funny conversational exchange with the rather creepy Mama Whispers. There is something inherently creepy about a 10 year old girl that lives in a swamp and whispers to spirits all day!

I keep forgetting how funny this book is and how much we have learnt about the Argosi and about squirrel cats. First that squirrel cats blush and it changes their fur colour just makes me want one as a business partner even more. Second, I just adore Ferius more and more. I love the way she interprets conversation as music and the way she teaches Kellen not only to use that when conversing but also in incorporating Dance into his movements. She just has such a great way of observing the world and then twisting it into easy to understand lessons. I really enjoy the juxtaposition of Rosie to Ferius, they follow very different “paths” and have very different teaching styles that it just highlights even more how much Ferius cares for Kellen but also how she shields him from the world.

Part 4 – way of stone
Chapter 44 – End

This is where I do become slightly disappointed. Unlike the first book the ramp up to the big mysterious reveal and the final fight is just a little flat, I felt the same about it in this re-read as I did in my first read that I really didn’t invest in this part of the story. As you can tell from my previous comments I was more invested in this book for the relationship developments between out trio of hero’s, and the humour that brought than in the mystery itself.

What really got me is the final line. On this read I got so much more out of Kellen’s growth and that is the great achievement in this book for me. I am now rooting for Kellen, when he wasn’t one of my favourites from Spellslinger. I am thoroughly investing in his story and care for him as much as Ferius and maybe even as much as Reichis (yes I know!). The more I reflect on the ending the more satisfying it is for me!

Well there you have it another Thoughts while re-reading! I would love your feedback on this series of posts. Are they working? Are you enjoying reading my thoughts as I go along, with hopefully less spoilers and more emotional reaction, or would you prefer I kept it more a review of thoughts on each portion I read?

One thought on “Thoughts while Re-reading – Shadowblack

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