Reviewed by: Amanda
Rating (out of 5 stars): 4 stars
Note: While this review is spoiler free, it does reference previous books in the series.
Private Kaylin Neya is convinced she’ll go deaf if she doesn’t move out of the Imperial Palace soon. Too many arguments between Diarmat, Bellusdeo, and the Emperor have left her ears ringing. She’s determined to find a new apartment, but the place has to meet with the approval of the Emperor, since her roommate will be the only female dragon in existence.
It’s not long before something else demands her attention, though. Something’s woken in Castle Nightshade. Something deadly. Something that’s tracking Kaylin simply because of the company she keeps. And if she doesn’t figure out how to stop it, the entire city of Elantra could end up in ruins.
There’s so much bantery goodness in Cast in Flame. With the arrival of Teela’s friends Mandoran and Annarion, Kaylin often ends up the brunt of jokes as Teela attempts to explain mortal behaviors and mannerisms to them. Her friends are used to her familiar now, whom she’s dubbed Small and Squawky, and he makes himself heard frequently, much to Kaylin’s chagrin. I particularly liked Kaylin and Mandoran’s exchanges in the early chapters—he’s much more easy going and friendly than a lot of his peers, and his curiosity about mortals is amusing.
Home is important to Kaylin—growing up in the fief of Nightshade, home wasn’t a place of safety or comfort. Since much of the story is focused on her apartment hunt, it twists into the concept of home and what it means for the various races that populate Elantra. Home for the Barrani isn’t the same as it is for the Dragons, and none of them understand what home means for Kaylin. She doesn’t want a place where she feels secure; she’ll never have that, not as long as there are marks on her body and people wanting to use them. She wants a place that is hers, and hers alone; a place she’s earned, a place where she can relax, where she can offer a bed or a floor to a friend in need. Most of the Elantra books have had some sort of lesson or deeper meaning to them, but this is the first one that resonated with me.
It’s a faster paced story, too. There’s a lot that happens, and it happens quickly. From her first day back on the job after returning from the West March to the final showdown in front of the High Halls, there’s no lags. And that epic battle is exhausting. I got tired just reading it, and I felt every pain and ache that Kaylin did.
But for all the good this story has, there are parts I’m growing weary of. While in the last few books we’ve seen a definite shift in the relationship between Kaylin and Severn, in Cast in Flame it’s almost at a standstill. It’s possible it seems that way because the story unfolds over a short period of time and there’s not much room to deviate from the main plot, but for this ‘shipper, I was slightly annoyed. Even more annoying is the sense we’re getting farther and farther away from what Lord Nightshade has planned for Kaylin and her power, especially when you consider how much emphasis it received in the first couple of books. I hope Sagara will be bringing that thread back into play soon.
Cast in Flame is an excellent addition to a great series. Characters that grow with every outing, some of the best worldbuilding I’ve ever read, and plenty of intrigue and action to keep you turning the pages, this is one of my favorite series, and Flame is a must read.
Sexual content: none