Hot Key Books; May 17, 2018
417 pages (PB)
4 / 5 ✪
Very little in Kellen’s life seems to be going his way. Counterbanded by his own blood, exiled by his kin, hunted by his people—Kellen has had his fair share of ill fortune. And so when he finds himself hunted by hextrackers in the middle of a sandstorm in a barren expanse of desert, he obviously assumes the worst. And yet, not all is as it seems. For when he and Ferius work to save the life of their pursuer, Kellen gets a surprise. One in the form of kiss.
Charmcaster sees Nephenia join the fold, signing on as the fourth member of Team Kellen. And yet her appearance is hardly the good news the team has been looking for. No, it seems that she only was able to find Kellen because there are sooo many other mages trying to kill him. And yet, her arrival heralds quite a bit more than the feelings of love and terror with Kellen. For something amazing is occurring within one of the smallest nations on the continent, Gitabria. Here, a community of scientists and inventors have produced something truly remarkable: a mechanical bird.
Spies and diplomats alike flock to the symposium where sight of this mythical creature awaits. Each are willing to part with exorbitant amounts of coin in order to buy such a wonder, or more, learn how it was made. But the bird holds a dark secret buried within, such that many will kill to cover it up. And yet, as so much comes to light, the world itself might be in the balance.
And yet how could something so small set off a war? Kellen and the gang investigate.
Charmcaster is another fun, exciting, interesting read from Greatcoats author Sebastien de Castell. As of now I’m four books in to this series of six, where each book is as exciting as the last. Kellen, as always, exudes a certain combination of sarcasm, hope and ineptitude to attract even the most discerning of readers, and backs it up with enough action and espionage to keep them entertained through to the end.
This third entry further cements Kellen’s standing as an outlaw spellslinger, while also further enhancing his character’s means and ability. Charmcaster is an excellent example of character development, as Kellen is once more forced to adapt and evolve, using tools and tricks to distract from his lack of magic. Nephenia’s appearance adds even more to Kellen’s development, as Shadowblack—while I thoroughly enjoyed it—did little in the way of romance. But with his love interest from Spellslinger back… Kellen is free to… um, whatever he does. Wouldn’t call it romance, exactly, except in the awkward teenage way of teens who are especially awkward when it comes to romance. So… not a terribly romantic romance, but an entertaining one.
The story is… pretty good. While it lacks the intrigue and polish found in the first two books, Charmcaster is by no means bad. It’s just, well, not as good. Interesting if not intriguing intrigue. Too much cloak and dagger but too little mystery. It delivers the same snappy, entertaining dialogue as in previous books, while providing an enticing if not heart-pounding adventure.
The short of it: Charmcaster is an interesting, entertaining entry to the Spellslinger series. One that takes great strides to develop Kellen’s character, while doing much less to further the overarching story. The return of Nephenia does wonders for the romantic aspect of it all, in the sense that 1>0. It’s certainly worth the price of admission, or the $7ish I paid for it. An entertaining adventure that one can probably burn through multiple times with no regrets. I certainly have none in buying it.