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Review: Spellslinger by Sebastian de Castell (Spellslinger #1)

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Spellslinger by Sebastian de Castell // VBC ReviewSpellslinger (Spellslinger #1)
Sebastian de Castell
Published: July 17, 2018 (Orbit)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

In order to earn his mage name and join his family as a member of the Jan’Tep (“People of True Magic”), Kellan must master the six types of magic as well pass the four mage trials. The only problem is Kellan’s magic has faded over time to the point where it’s pretty much non-existent. If he fails the trials, Kellan faces becoming a Sha’Tep—those without magic who therefore become servants to the Jan’Tep—or worse, banishment.

After his first trial ends with Kellan’s life on the line, he’s rescued by a woman named Ferius Parfax, a mysterious traveler who relies on her playing cards to get her out of rough situations more than magic.

As Kellan’s connection to his magic grows ever more tenuous, he begins to see truth to what Ferius brings to the table, but with everyone thinking she’s a spy, Kellan’s standing in the community might just be in jeopardy.

I kinda felt like I was dropped into the middle of an established series despite this being the first book. While I felt like the world-building was done pretty well, there were moments where the ins and outs of the clan, including how the hierarchy is determined, were a bit muddled. There was so much information to swallow, not only the different levels/types of magic, but also the clear talk of unrest that’s looming in the background, at times was too much.

However, I really enjoyed the flip in that our hero is not gifted with magic and has to rely on other ways of getting out of bad situations. He’s very cunning and quick on his feet. It’s apparent that the Jan’Tep people have spent so much time relying on their abilities that they can’t get out of their comfort zones and it ends up weakening them more than helping them.

I have to say, Kellan is put through the ringer in this one. While facing the disappointment of his family becomes the least of his problems by the end, it’s been quite some time since I’ve read a main character who goes through so much turmoil in just the course of one book, and he’s only fifteen! His commitment to doing what’s right is endearing as well as the obvious way in which he doesn’t give up in the face of danger. I look forward to seeing how his character matures as the series continues.

Ferius was an interesting opposite to the magic community. She’s a strong-willed, independent woman who likes to stir up trouble, but is equally able to handle herself in most every situation. By the end of Spellslinger there’s still an air of mystery about her and her motivations aren’t exactly known yet.

Overall, I found Spellslinger an enjoyable read. There were quite a few twists I didn’t see coming throughout, and I wonder how the story will build upon these sometimes-shocking reveals.

Sexual content: None

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2 Responses to “Review: Spellslinger by Sebastian de Castell (Spellslinger #1)”

  1. Wrayth says:

    Is this a re-release? Because i think i might have read it a while back… it had a playing card motif on the cover, and one of the story things is why his magic is fading…to do with his eye marking? Or am I way off?

    • AmyM says:

      Nope, you’re correct. This is a re-release. It looks like all the currently published Spellslinger books are getting re-releases and new covers from Orbit when they acquired the North American rights.

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