Hello humans! I hope you are well and not struggling as much as I am with how darned fast this year is going! I swear this year, the only thing I’m on top of is my Goodreads challenge (it’s the important things). But enough about my spiral into the void! I’m here to review the third book in the Spellslinger series, Charmcaster by Sebastien De Castell. I’ve reviewed the first two books in this series and have pretty much loved both, so it was great to get my feet back in this world.
‘I was getting almost as good at running away from enemies as I was at making them in the first place. Turns out, I wasn’t running nearly fast enough.’
Kellen has begun to master his spellslinging and the Argosi tricks for staying alive, and he and Reichis have found a career that suits them both: taking down mercenary mages who make people’s lives miserable. But Ferius is concerned that Kellen is courting disaster . . .
I must say, out of the three books in this series, this is my favourite by far. I feel like the first two books have been good, but there’s always something a little off. I think possibly having the time in the first two books to develop the characters and the relationships between them allowed this story to really flourish. It has just the right level of the wit and the whimsy that are so prevalent in the first two books, but for the first time, I actually fell for Kellen as a character. Not in a romantic sense (he’s just not my type) but his emotional storyline in this book was by far the most profound. Where book two made him seem like the kind of teenage boy I would not like to be friends with, this time around he felt more mature, with a sense of self-awareness that wasn’t present in the previous books. Don’t get me wrong, Kellen hasn’t suddenly become a perfect hero, but I think anyone who loves the characters in this series loves them because they are flawed.
The cast of additional characters is still as amazing as ever. Ferius continues to be a superb mentor, while still being an excellent character in her own right, I still find myself laughing out loud at some of her dry remarks. Reichis, our favourite homicidal squirrel cat, remains true to himself. You can see as the books have developed, that these characters are a labour of love, they are distinctive and they have clear responses to different situations. This is so character driven as a series and it just works.
We also have the addition (or re-addition) of a couple of female characters which is always a great thing (one of them is a love interest I suppose, but more on that later). I can’t talk about the latter of these two characters without spoiling anything but suffice to say my love of complex ‘villain’ characters was definitely sated.
One of my criticisms of Shadowblack was that a good portion of the book was given over to romance, or as I put it ‘mooning’. While this book has a little of that still, it was so small in comparison to the rest of the action taking place that I didn’t mind it whatsoever.
Speaking of action, this book has it in spades. There’s theft, kidnapping, emotional blackmail and more. What I was impressed with was that, while there are a good number of combat scenes and our band of ‘heroes’ doesn’t always win, this didn’t have the sense of being a series of mindless punch-ups interspersed with travelling scenes. The more combat heavy moments serve the plot and help to develop character rather than just being a means to make the book grittier.
These are fun books to read, they have entertaining dialogue, amusing characters and a general sense of whimsy, though I don’t mean to suggest a kind of Alice in Wonderland setting. This book, I felt, best balanced that humour and fun with giving the characters more difficult choices and spurring them to be more than they were in the previous books. In a series of six books, this is an interesting way to reach a midpoint, one would expect to end a trilogy and then begin a similar series. However, in this case, I think it worked out for the best.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Will you be purchasing this when it releases on May 17th? Let me know in the comments below!