This is the final instalment of Throught while re-reading as part of my Countdown to Queenslayer series. We did it we made it to the fourth book with Queenslayer arriving in just over a week! I originally read and reviewed this as an ARC, so this time I delved into my finished copy when re-reading this book. It was so great to get to experience the story with the art work and chapter heading in place, as they really are physically beautiful books.
As always, 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
Fool of Shadows
Chapters 1- 16
Why do we always join Kellen just when he is dying/about to die? It seems to be an inevitable fact that when we meet back up with Kellen he will always be in some sort of trouble. This time he is just causally dying in the desert with Reichis dying at his side. To say this is a happy start to the book is an understatement.
It’s just Kellen and Reichis, romours that Ferius has been killed. I hope not she is one of my favourites. While Kellen reaches for her wisdom alot, there is a hole without her. She adds so much to the other books that I think, without her they may lack a little of what makes this series special.
He is 17 in this book so just over a year/ year and a half has passed since the first book, it seems like a longer time period should have passed as he claims it has been six months since he left Ferius after the events at Gitabria. I think he even turned 17 at the start of Charmcaster so he must be getting closer to his 18th birthday?!? The timeline still seems a little quick. The more I think about it Kellen has lead an extremely hectic life in the past couple of years.
Kellen believes he has no luck but I think he is extremely lucky. Ok, he is unlucky enough to get himself into those scrapes and has been on deaths door a number of times but he always makes it out of it especially with the help of Ferius, Nephenia and Reichis. The number of times Kellen is close to death to be rescued by his friends is getting rediculous. I both love that about him, that he is far from “the chosen one”, but that it also makes the moments where he gets to step up all the more sweeter. Unfortunately, this is not one of the occasions, again Kellen’s ass is saved, but they didn’t save my Squirrelcat. Reichis is dying, they joked he was food?!?!Already don’t like these monks.
It’s interesting to separate Kellen completely, from the support team. It sets a very different tone for this book. No more adventures with the trio, Kellen must use what he has learned to fend for himself. I hate that he has been driven to Shalla, but if it saves my fluffy murderer I will allow it. I still think she is being manipulated more than Kellen.
Abby of Shadows
Chapters 17- 29
Oooo we are really getting into the shadow black, also made it to a different continent. We are back in the midst of Castell’s fabulous worldbuilding. I know I keep saying it, but it is the stand out feature of these books! The image of the Abby is curious that black onyx pillars seem very imposing for a group of people that are trying to hide out and live their lives in peace. Surely you would want something a like less conspicuous?
Interesting that Kellens is still very different from those at the Abby. I think that this may all be foreshadowing for future books, his grandmother was up to something, be it sinister or not I am sure it will pan out to some big revelation. The details into each persons use of shadow is fantastic. The fact that there are classes of Shadowblack with different skill sets is kinda cool. That is also affects all nations not just the Jan’Tep also exposes us to a lot more of the diversity in this world and how they reconcile being Shadowblack with what their people believe it to be. I just love how rich and in-depth this whole series is.
I adore how bad Kellen is with women! He has no clue. I also like that he has the teenage boyness despite the danger and all the crap going on he still thinks about getting a girl into bed *eye roll*. These lighter moments are great , De Castell is very good and just finding lighter moments where we are reminded that Kellen is a teenage boy who just wants to do teenage boy stuff. The interactions between Kellen and the Abbot are also great examples of these lighter moments, the Abbot is honest with Kellen particularly highlighting what an asshole Kellen is. And he is right, Ferius has taught Kellen how to hone his skills as a cocky little shit but I do find that endearing more than anything. When I think about how whiney Kellen was in the first book, I much prefer this side of him.
I forgot how different this was without Ferius and Reichis. I love how Kellen recalls so much about them just to feel close to them as while they are not in the story it gives us a link from them and I don’t think I would like the tale so much without them. The revelation that Kellen and Reichis really are bound together, is something I am surprised hasn’t come up earlier. Though they refer to it as partnership Reichis is really Kellen’s familiar? Isn’t he? Kellen appears to be taking on parts of Reichis’ soul – struggling to keep the part of him that is Reichis as bay as submitting to the bloodlust. Is it wrong I find that kind of touching, he is struggling to cope without him? I like it as it means we still get that Reichis sass even though he isn’t really in this book.
It pisses me off how trusting Kellen is, but never of people who may actually be able to help him. He is wary and questioning of them but he trusts Shalla implicitly, when really she has only ever been selfish. I don’t know what it is about Shalla but I just do not like her one bit and don’t see why Kellen hasn’t realised how conniving and power hungry she is. Well he knows those things
Cast of Shadows
Chapters 30 – 39
This one gets so much darker than other books. While it still has lighter elements, the description of the captured people and how dark the Jan’Tep fears can go to creating such horrible torture devices. That they are so ready to betray and kill because they fear. Also the lengths their craving for power drives them. I have to admit that Kellen has become a good con man. Again this is Castell playing with lighter moments in amongst the dark, they are very rapid fire in this section which just makes the action so much more intense. It shuffles you back and forth from tense to giggling that when the really dark moments hit they are impactful
Again Kellen’s trusting nature has put everyone in danger, again his sister is involved. This bit of the plot is getting kind of overdone. I know that most of these have all be Kellen confounding the machinations of his father and his sister (who is only 15), which is the overarching plot of these books but its just getting a tad repetitive and it would be nice to see a move towards the end game of this plot line.
Oh no! Damn it I am crying. Reichis! Oh Kellen! Now I am crying cause he found a family and acceptance. Damn it Castell! He is really going for all the emotions of this one. And of course Kellen has all but killed them by trusting his real family. I do love that despite loosing them, Kellen still keeps hearing the words and support of Ferius and feels Reichis’s spirit. I love that he has realised that they are a part of him, literally in the case of Reichis.
Bridge of Shadows
Chapter 40- 63
Castell has a great at defusing a tense situation. Kellen jumping to conclusions about his attractiveness. I love that Betellios calls him out on it.
Whoo nephenia and ishak!!! Reichis is ALIVE!!!!! But Kellen and Reichis have lost their connection. The fact that Reichis died and kept being revived is heartbreaking.
I am beginning to find Nephenia a little annoying. She acts like Kellen should have information that she hasn’t even told him. She is as stubborn as Shalla not listening to what Kellen has to say. Finally, Kellen gets one over Shalla. it was about time. He is the older sibling you would think he would know his sister’s tricks and games off by heart at this point but he has fallen for them over and over again. Finally, she has fallen for one of his. I really don’t know why I detest her so much I guess Castell has done a really good job of making her incredibly unlikable to me.
Oh Kellen’s shadowblack is so interesting! So detailed and in-depth linked to his questioning nature. But only the right questions. I love the huge emphasis on questioning things in all the books, I like that those that seem to be care for Kellen encourage him to question and challenge. To think seriously about what he is asking to get the answers and information he needs. This totally confirms in my mind that his grandmother had a very specific plan, I hope we found out what that might be soon!
Oh Betellios -also a little bury your gays which is the first time I have been cringy at this series (I know Castell can do this -see my review for his Greatcoats series). I just found out that the two series take place in the same universe. Same world, separated by different continents. I think that is really cool that he explore this amazingly crafted world in both his YA and Adult fiction. I am hoping to continue the greatcoats series soon, after Queenslayer.
Seriously, Castell has to stop killing my darlings to bring them back, part of me loves that trope. But we just don’t get enough time to fully grieve. I would just have liked a bit more trepidation and fear. While, we do loose some major characters in this section, I don’t feel that they were impactful enough to really bring the sadness that the loss of one of the beloved characters would. Then again, I wouldn’t want him to kill of Reichis for real, or Ferius!
I am glad the communication between Kellen and Reichis has been restored. I missed his quick wit! I am worried the amount of trouble he is going to cause especially if he ends up developing his own powers, not just his murderous talents.
Slayer of Shadows
Oh the letter from Ferius!?! My heart. I do love her. I love how much Kellen and her care for eachother. I hope they find her again! This is just a perfect way to close out this story. The fact that Kellen had his time alone to asses himself and finally realise who he wants to be, and what part the others play within that. That combined with the teasing of Reichis. Just an awesome end to the book.
This one plays with our feelings alot, Kellen’s family grabs the power they have been fighting for but Kellen manages a little victory at least. It’s this book that I finally found my love for Kellen, just as much as Reichis and Ferius. It also is the book that seems to have moved the world building on the most the main plot arc that followed Kellen’s family. I honestly cant wait to see where Queenslayer takes Kellen and Reichis next.
That’s it we have caught up and now just have the long week and a bit long wait for the release of Queenslayer. I will have my review of Queenslayer up this month for those that are interested. Thank you, if you have been reading these ramblings. I hope you enjoyed them and I hope it encouraged some to pick up the series or even dive into re-reading them.