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“This is Ragmarket, and this is my blood. If you come onto my turf again, you’ll answer to the Demon King,” Han Alister. —Deathcaster
Shattered Realms #4
by Cinda Williams Chima
AR Test, Strong Female Character
In the Fells, the war with Arden couldn’t get any worse. The Queen is sick and out of the picture. The young Ardenine King, Jarat, is marching his army to the capital of Fells. And the heir to the gray wolf throne, Alyssa ana’Raisa, has been captured by the ruthless Empress Celestine.
For Ash, prince of the Fells, the only way forward is to rescue his sister, Lyss, from the Empress. But now that Celestine is on the war path, her armies ravaging the coast, that isn’t going to be an easy task. To cross the ocean and take on Celestine’s bloodsworn army, he’ll need help from unlikely allies and former enemies.
The rebel Ardenine general Hal wants nothing more than to see Lyss safe and in his arms. Yet to do that, he has to find a way to crush Celestine’s invading army. Between the arrogant King Jarat and his stubborn father, fielding an army to help the Fells drive off Celestine won’t be a walk in the park. Will Hal succeed in freeing Arden and the Fells from Jarat and Celestine’s grasp? Will Ash succeed in bringing his sister home to take her rightful place on the throne? Only time will tell.
Chima’s final entry in the Shattered Realms series is a wonderful conclusion to the saga. Focusing on the epic battles between the three nations and royal families, Deathcaster doesn’t disappoint in its suspense and action. Since this is the final book, the main theme of war is much more prevalent as multiple armies battle each other. These battles are each unique and well thought out, creating exciting and heart-pounding scenes.
The book splits its chapters into many points of view, including all of the main characters such as Ash, Lila, Jenna, Lyss, Hal, Destin, and Evan. While the sheer amount of main characters might appear to be overwhelming, the ease with which each chapter transitions to different points of view will pull readers in and never make them feel overwhelmed. Plus, each character is unique and interesting, with their own problems and personality that will hook readers.
The events of the story are believable, from the civil war in Arden to Ash’s journey across the ocean to save his sister. The ending feels a bit rushed, while some parts of the novel drag on, but overall the story is very well paced. The writing is easy to read and flows well, with each character getting a distinct voice. Overall, Deathcaster is a satisfying final entry to Chima’s Shattered Realms series.
- After a year apart, Ash meets Jenna. “There were many kisses but few words. His questions drew brief, vague answers, punctuated with the vivid images she delivered through touch.” Ash and Jenna have sex. “Making love with Jenna Bandelow was a twining of minds as well as bodies, a mingling of imagery and sensation so complete that sometimes it was hard to tell who owned what—who was giving, who receiving.”
- Jenna tells Ash about dragon mating, “Dragons often mate in flight, so they twine their tails in order to, you know, maintain their—.”
- Empress Celestine believes Lyss and Breon are lovers, and often tries to break them up. During dinner, Lyss thinks, “Celestine often included some handsome young men for Lyss, and a lovely young woman for Breon, or vice versa. She seemed determined to distract the erstwhile lovers with new options.” Later on, Lyss nearly shouts, “If I go to bed with someone, I want it to mean something.”
- Samara, Celestine’s attendant, says, “I find that a bout between the sheets stirs my blood and prepares me to shed the blood of others.”
- Ash gives Evan a massage to help ease the pain in Evan’s body after a fight. Evan then teases Ash, saying, “According to customs here in the drylands we are married now, and you are bound to perform this service every day.”
- A soldier tells Hal, “There’s a rumor going around that you died at Delphi but the witch queen brought you back to life because she fell in love with your dead body.”
- Lyss thinks about the fighting tournaments Celestine holds. “Sometimes the empress would choose two women to fight, or a mixed pair, or three against three. In one case, she blinded two soldiers, and then set them against each other.”
- Evan and his subordinates are ambushed in his home. “Blood spattered Evan’s face and the floor around him. He lay on his back, helpless, though fully conscious, while the fighting went on around him. He was stepped on at least once.”
- Hal is told that, “Karn’s disgraced, dead, and hanging from the city walls.”
- Jenna’s dragon, Cas, attacks a member of the empress’ army. “He struck the bloodsworn, hard, just as he took his shot. The shot went wild and the soldier ended up pinned to the ground, screaming, bleeding from a dozen wounds.”
- A group of dragons attacks the empress’ fortress city, “They burned everything that was burnable, from the quays to the houses that were tucked into the terraces on the hillside, to the small fishing boats that were all that remained in the harbor.”
- Lila discovers a dead body in the woods. “It was what was left of one of the Darian Brothers, blood spattered all around. A knife lay in the mud nearby. He looked like he’d been torn apart by wolves.”
- A servant is killed during a coup. “Before he could get there, the maiden lay dead in a pool of blood, run through by one of the blackbirds.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Hal’s younger brother says, “This drunk stumbled up to me, and I thought she was going to ask me for money or something.”
- Ash and Sasha get drunk on a beach after being stranded at sea. Evan, the only one sober, “got the impression that they’d been at the cider for a while.”
- Bastard is used several times. A soldier tells Hal about a general’s death. “The scum-sucking bastard’s dead, thank the Maker.”
- Ass is used frequently. When King Jarat orders Destin to lead a company of mages, Destin thinks, “And I will pull mages out of my ass.”
- Jenna can see images of a person’s true self. “When Jenna gripped the Commander’s hands, images slid through her mind—a much younger Adam and Alyssa, dressed in elaborately stitched clothing, holding hands, watching a funeral procession, both weeping.”
- Evan binds his followers to him with a blood ritual. “One dose was enough to bind a person; after that, they had an unquenchable thirst for more.”
- Ash travels to the dream world, Aediion. “He was swept into a swirling black vortex. Gradually, he rebuilt the scene at Drovers’ Inn from memory.” In Aediion, spirits can meet with the living. Ash meets his father there, and his deceased father says, “Thank the Maker. I was close to giving up.” In Aediion, Ash also meets a demon. “It resembled a demon’s face—thin-lipped, hollow-cheeked in a cowl and prelate’s robes.”
- When Ash enters Aediion, a demon attacks him with shadows. “It took everything Ash had to stand fast with shades flying into his face, swiping around his body, sliding under his clothes.”
- Hadley DeVilliers uses her magic to sound proof a room, “Back at Kendall House, Shadow pulled glasses down from the shelf while DeVilliers circled the room, her hand on her amulet, putting up barriers to eavesdroppers.”
- In Arden, mages are collared to keep them in check. Hal tells a mage about a key that can unlock every collar. “One key opens all of the collars. One key controls all of the collars. Nearly all the mages fighting for the Ardenine king are wearing them now.”
- Magic is viewed as a heresy in Arden. Father Fosnaught condemns a group of mages. “You will burn for this, I promise you. We will wipe the scourge of magic from every corner of the Seven Realms.”
- The Church of Malthus is the primary religion in Arden. Destin Karn, a spymaster, thinks about a saint, “There was plenty of information about Saint Darian, one of the patriarchs of the Church of Malthus a thousand years ago, and his followers, known as Darian Brothers, who were bent on eliminating the gifted from the Realms.”
by Jonathan Planman