Friday, 13 May 2016

'Flamecaster', by Cinda Williams Chima

Title: Flamecaster (Shattered Realms #1)
Author(s): Cinda Williams Chima
Release Date: 19th April 2016
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: Publisher (ARC)

Set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Seven Realms series, a generation later, this is a breathtaking story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death. This dazzling beginning to a new series is indispensable for fans of Cinda Williams Chima and a perfect starting point for readers who are new to her work.

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now he’s closer than ever to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. With time running out, Ash faces an excruciating choice: Can he use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the ruthless king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.


Having heard nothing but wonders about Cinda William's Chima 'Seven Realms' series for years, I was incredibly excited to have the chance to read something set in that world without having to tackle the thousands of pages already published and being able to jump on that popular train with a fresh, new series.

While I didn't completely hate it, I must say I was disappointed.

This first installment of the 'Shattered Realms' series is set one generation after 'Seven Realms', and its protagonist is the son of a couple from those books. While the reading of this book feels as an independent story in the sense that it doesn't seem to over rely on the previous books for understanding of its plot, new readers like me might feel as if the world building is somewhat lacking and could have been extended.

Especially considering how little happens throughout the book.

'Flamecaster' is almost 600 pages long, but I could break down its plot in under five minutes. There is one event at the beginning of the story that sparks the protagonist's goal, but then for hundreds of pages there is nothing much of notice going on. Adrian/Ash/Adam (he goes through a lot of names) goes to school, spends his summer's killing people (without much reason, but that's not the only plot hole in the story, unfortunately), and most of the first half of the book is spent introducing the other POV characters and building up to something you won't be quite sure what it is in the first place.

The writing is the one thing that kept me glued to the pages. I didn't even realize nothing was happening until about 200 pages in. Chima's writing style is definitely engrossing and beautiful, and she does a great job of making all her characters feel like different people through a third person perspective.

There are two main characters in this novel, Adam Freeman and Jenna Bandelow, and two minor POV's, Destin Karn and Lila Barrowhill. I found myself really attached to these two smaller characters, and I wished they were given more of a spotlight other than to present either of the main characters to the reader. Destin, especially, seems to be a very layered, elaborate character, and I wouldn't have minded reading a few more chapters from his point of view even if it was just about his daily life (since there is plenty of that in Adam's perspective). These two extra points of view all but disappear once, more than 300 pages in, the two main characters finally meet and the one literary trope I hate with a fiery passion more than a love triangle makes its appearance.


Insta-Love is, for those fortunate enough to have never come across it, when two characters have just met but fall madly in love with each other. This book has probably one of the worst Insta-Love cases I have ever read in my life (and I have read 'Twilight') and it came to a point I dreaded reading their encounters because I felt like the one sane person stuck in a room with two lunatics where no one else seems to notice there is something incredibly wrong with them. I could write pages upon pages about how quickly their relationship escalates but it involves cheesy metaphors, raging hormones and breaking character like there is no tomorrow.

Once this romance starts (about three minutes into them meeting. Literally), both characters become completely different people. Their focus becomes so jaded that both their motivations are thrown out the window and what the reader is led to believe about these people for most of the book does not seem to matter anymore. It seemed like I was reading two halves of two very different books, and any sort of cohesion and character development simply does not exist.

Any and all sorts of foreshadowing stick out of the pages like a sore thumb. There was literally nothing surprising about the revelations uncovered in this book because the only thing missing from its build up was a character picking up a megaphone and shouting it for everyone to hear. It was predictable, nonsensical (justifications given to try and make the reader not believe the truth are simply idiotic) and a let down.

The biggest disappointment of this book was, however, its conclusion. Anything that (eventually) happens throughout the story is to enable Adam to fulfill his goal and when it finally comes the time to do it it just felt... flat. So much that I missed it and had to go back and read it again, because it was hidden in a mess of forced tension and destroyed characterization. I cannot get too much into it without spoiling the ending, but I don't think I can come up with a worse way for that event to happen that the one that actually did.

All in all, this book came to my hands with a lot of expectations attached to it and almost every single one of them was not fulfilled. While I found my fair share of problems with it, if it wasn't for the Insta-Love I believe I would have liked it fractionally more than I did. I might at some point try and pick up the first volume of the 'Seven Realms' series as a second chance, but I doubt I will keep reading this series.

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