As part of my Count down to Queenslayer re-read, this is the third instalment of Thoughts while Re-reading the Spellslinger series. This time I dive directly into the action of Charmcaster.
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 have tried to edit, to remove repetitiveness and to try form coherent sentences but no promises.
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD
The mechanical bird
Again De Castell doesn’t hold back on the action. In fact, whenever we seem to encounter our trio they always seem to be right on the edge of a fight. It’s great to see Kellen learning to take care of himself but also that he isn’t particularly skilled at it. He still needs Ferius. She still has a lot to teach him. I really love diving into these books. They just launch you into these high octane scenes that before you know it you have read 50 pages and are hooked.
Yet another magic system is flirted with, the eponymous Charmcaster! I do like how we are slowly building up snippets of each magical system. I know I go on and on about the world building but for me this is what truly makes these books stand out. The way we are introduced to the power that Suzie lends to Kellen through the visions is really interesting. We also got to explore the religious zealots of the Barabesq. Especially, with how Ferius handled them goading them into debate and doubt. The subtleties of Ferius’ character is just immense.
I am totally in love with the relationship and how Kellen and Reichis work together. The quips between the two are awesome! I really am sounding like a broken record but this section really does highlight their bond and how much it has developed. We just keep getting more and more insight into, them and the magic that binds them and I just can’t get enough.
We are back in this world with a flourish. The immense world building, humour and intrigue are plentiful and we have only got to page 50!
Chapter 9 – 20
I forgot how early the twist was introduced. We have Nephenia back but she has grown a lot more than Kellen has. She has also apparently been through just as much of an ordeal. She definitely seems like she is a lot more independent and kick-ass than in the first book. She has a familiar. Love Ishak! I love the mimicry. I enjoy the juxtaposition in the relationship between Nephenia and Ishak compared to Kellen and Reichis. Nephenia is definitely the one in charge where Ishak serves.
Ahhh Ferius. Why is she always hurt!!! Seriously, De Castell just doesn’t seem to let her rest. She puts herself in so much danger for Kellen and I am beginning to wonder why? What is her motivation behind protecting him so fiercely. What has she seen?
We are learning more about the Shadowblack and the powers associated with that too. The shadow land is kinda scary, and so interesting. The personification of fears. The return to the animalistic for Reichis and the dying thoughts of Ferius. It is haunting.
We are getting so much of the world in this one, we now have encountered Travellers saloons!!! All we need is a gambling Reichis! Though it does explain Ferius. I love that this is book three and we still don’t fully understand the ways of the Argosi that we are slowly being fed little bits of their culture and their unique ways of conversing. The conversation they have here is so imaginative, yet like Kellen we are still left in the dark about what was actually said. It’s just a really fascinating was to create intrigue in what is essentially a card game.
Oh the life lessons in this one! We are really raking up the emotion too. We have some very positive sex work imagery as an aside, as well as subtle hints at Ferius’ views on sexuality. We also dive straight into why Ferius cares for Kellen and how much Kellen cares for his friends. It’s why I like Kellen too. No matter how shit things get, while he complains, his friends are everything even the new ones. Also Reichis cares too and that just melts my heart!
Omg the descriptions of Gitabria, The great exhibition, the eight bridges. I am all about this city. If I would like in this world it most likely would be here. With a detour to the academy of course. Some of the worldbuilding is just so vivid and beautiful. I can just picture it all so clearly and it really just makes it magical. I always am awed by books that build a world that exists beyond the line of the story. Where you can picture the cities inhabitants going about their days unaffected by our main characters. That they all have stories of their own, that they are following without us knowing. I feel that with the descriptions of Gitabria.
Chapters 21 – 40
Poor Cressia, the expansion of the worms power is horrifying. It definitely has developed into something a lot more dangerous that initially described in Shadowblack. I also like that while that storyline somewhat wrapped up within Shadowblack, this storyline is extending the unsolved tendrils that story left behind. It gives really nice flow between the books as their are now multiple linking story arcs.
Yet another magic system! Seriously,we are up to about 6 different magic-systems and even more theologies/belief systems. For a YA, this is getting as complicated as an Epic Fantasy. They are they are introduced is great too. Kellen has encountered these but they meant nothing to him until he is taught about them. Desipite having an affinity to magic he still has to learn and train to do the magic. I like that. It counteracts the troupe of being instantly amazing at a new skill. This system is Dancing coins! So interesting, especially as we don’t know what they all do. We are going to have to figure that out alongside Kellen. I do love how they are giving Kellen a bit of confidence and a bit of himself back. Especially after what his parents did to him. It gives him a bit of control.
The complexity is outstanding. We are getting deeper and deeper into the different magic systems and they are just so detailed. Learning about how Suzie signals to Kellen is kinda cool. I love that she chose him even though she hates the JanTep. It just builds so many interesting layers. Another is the distinct properties of rare metals in this world, from the JanTep banding, the coins and the mechanical bird! It’s going to be interesting to see that develop.
We get to meet Ferius foster parents!!! Oh they are scared Ferius will stray from her path to take care of Kellen. This one is really, ramping up the emotion for me. Is Kellen that dangerous to Ferius? I mean she does seem to put herself in danger for him and I don’t think I could take it if she put her life on the line for him. I love her to much as a character.
And then this is where my eyes roll as Shalla is back! Ah Shala, you are always going to be a whiney brat above her station aren’t you? I should feel bad for her. She is clearly being used by her father as much as Kellen, but her self importance and complete ignorance to the world annoys me. In fact the whole JanTep people are just a bit annoying! I think that’s why I had a real dislike for Kellen within the first book. As he learns to move away from the JanTep ways, he is becoming more personable, but when he is back with “his people” he reverts to being an ass.
The crowned mage
Chapters 41 – 50
Oh this one is getting me in the feels. We are learning so much about Ferius and her vulnerabilities. How much she cares for Kellen and how much Kellen cares for her and oh the feels! Seriously all the feels from Ferius and her belief in Kellen! After all the fun and laughter interwoven into Ferius and Kellen’s relationship during Shadowblack, this book really does pivot into showing how beautiful the bond they are developing is and it has just swept me up with them. I love them just as much as they love each other.
The machinations of Kellen’s father are going to be interesting. Especially as he is so willing to lose Shalla for them, safe in the knowledge that Kellen will save her. I have a feeling that will end badly for her and it almost makes me feel sorry for her. Almost. However, I feel I should be more invested in this storyline, it feels like this is the overarching arc, that is underpinning the whole series but I just don’t care. Not as much as the individual story lines. I care more about learning about Ferius, the magic systems, the world and how Kellen is discovering all that and growning into his own person than, Kellen’s fathers persuit of power.
I wish we got more of the prison heist it just seems so interesting. The whole Gitabrian Empire is fascinating but we are just getting snippets, unlike previous stories. But then we have much more information into various magic systems so it counter balances. It is the only time the worldbuilding has let me down. We got some amazing descriptions of Gitabria earlier, but we haven’t got to explore! I wanted Kellen to be as awed with the city as I was so we could go roaming the streets with him discovering all its riches and that is a little disappointing that we only visited a single bridge and the prison.
The mechanical dragon
Chapters 51- 63
This has been the only book so far in the series where I have remember the major plot but forgot all the many twists and turns to get there that it actually snuck up on me. I forgot how fucked up Ferius get in this one. And that not all Argosi are wise and kind. Castell, really just isn’t letting up on Ferius and I understand why, its a really good motivator for the final scenes of the book. I almost cried at the ending of this book as Castell really starts putting my darlings in danger. First, almost killing my darling little murder floof (I might not forgive that) and then Kellen’s goodbye!!!! I didn’t realize how much I have fallen in love with all of them. And for Kellen to walk away from them is heartbreaking. And then there is Reichis who just fills my heart with joy yet again. Even with the bitter sweetness, leaving Ferius behind. This ending got me! Especially, as I know how much I cried when reading Soulbinder for the first time I suspect I will be worse on my re-read!
For me at least the Spellslinger series is just one of those series that goes places and makes you feels things. It gets it’s hooks so far into you, you know you will never be free. I just get more and more excited for Queenslayer and more and more devastated that the series will end eventually.