Charmcaster by Sebastian de Castell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Spellslinger (Book 3 of 6)
Genre: Fantasy, YA fantasy
Published: 17th May 2018 by Hot Key Books (UK) and 18th September 2018 by Orbit (US)
Charmcaster was yet another entertaining and engaging read from Sebastian de Castell.
Kellen’s own character development as well as his relationship with Reichi and Ferius continued its compelling trajectory. Same goes for the worldbuilding of this intriguing world as seen from Kellen’s PoV. I liked how the series started from a very narrow perspective of the world as Kellen’s life was all about becoming a Jan’Tep mage. The sheer arrogance of the Jan’Tep necessarily precluded any exposure or real facts about the world at large. Now, as Kellen traversed the land as an Argosi-in-training, it really opened up his eyes to the rest of the world. I’ve always appreciated this concept of learning about the world together with the main character as it makes for a very engrossing read.
“Dwelling on all the bad things that didn’t even come to pass only makes it harder to celebrate that fact. Stop being so scared about yesterday—it only makes you forget to appreciate today.”
Kellen’s characterisation has always been the major draw of these books for me. As a discordance, it appears that he’s destined for a path unlike any of his peers within the community he grew up in. And he’s definitely all the better for it, for I truly abhor the Jan’Tep – they’re some of the most despicable group of people I’ve ever read. With each succeeding novel, Kellen is challenged in ways which could only contribute to his growth. In this volume, we see him being pushed to a point where he had to decide if he was willing to cross the line, and it was these messages that kept cropping up in these books which I think are so appropriate in YA stories. In the first book, it was about being willing to pay any price just to become accepted. In this one, is the act of taking one’s life justifies the need for freedom or vengeance. There were also some really interesting developments in Kellen’s ‘abilities’.
“People, nations, even history itself alters over time, for history is but a tale told to suit the present.”
As for the rest of the main cast, a returning side character had a more prominent role, which came as a bit of a surprise and even made the story better chiefly because of what it meant for Kellen. Meanwhile, we also got to know a bit more about the enigmatic Ferius Parfax. And as for Reichi the squirrel cat – well, he’s still Reichi, albeit underneath all that bravado lies a fierce loyalty and protective instinct for his ‘business partner’.
Each book has so far stood well on its own, but there’s definitely a build-up of something bigger to come. I also felt that with each book, the stories are getting darker and more disturbing. So even though the narrative structure felt repetitive at times, I was still happily devouring these delectable morsels offered by de Castell – these books are real page-turners as I’ve finished this one in 2 days. Looking forward to what comes next.