The time has come, things are drawing to a close all over the place and I have to work out how to review the final book in the Spellslinger series. This series feels like it only started last week and it’s already done!
Kellen and Reichis are settling into their new lives as protectors of the young queen and dealing with the constantly shifting threats to her reign and to her life. For the first time in his life, Kellen feels as if he’s becoming the kind of man that his mentor Ferius had wanted him to be. Even Reichis has come to appreciate having a noble purpose – so long as no one minds him committing the occasional act of theft from the royal treasury.
But what seems to be a simple card game between Kellen and an old man is soon revealed to be a deadly game of wits in which a powerful mage has trapped the queen’s spellslinger in order to kill him.
It is exceedingly difficult to review the sixth book in a series without just referring people to reviews for the other books so you’ll have to excuse me if this review feels a little odd!
I thought this was a very strong end to a series that genuinely blew me away. I remember thinking these books would be ok – nothing to write home about. But I now hold them up as an example of how to actually write a tolerable male protagonist in YA – and it isn’t the Kellen is just some kind of perfect boy – he makes as many mistakes and blunders as other characters do – but something about the way that his character is crafted and the way that he learns from and deals with those mistakes and their consequences just works. I often find myself regretting when I get sucked into a series – but in this case I think each book has built on the last in such a wonderful way. What I’m saying is I have no regrets – in fact I might need to read all six books all over again.
In the early books in this series the characters were brought together, there was much banter, some sexual tension, some weird ‘are they friends or is she like a mother to him’ stuff that was interesting to explore and other friend/enemy relationships built up. Near the middle of the series the author did what I genuinely wasn’t expecting, and pulled all of these characters apart. Again, it shouldn’t have worked, I was fully expecting to get utterly fed up with just reading Kellen’s perspective without the buffer of the other characters – but no, it worked and the way Kellen grew through those books was extraordinary. But now in the final book in the series – would we still have just Kellen or would people come back into his life? Well, I can’t spoil things for you but all I’ll say is I think most people who love this series will be very happy with how things turn out.
De Castell’s writing is as fun as ever, the banter is just as rich and amusing as through all the books. The plot is simultaneously a fun romp and a story that challenges the reader. I think it’s the way that all these different moving parts are balanced that makes this a series with such a potentially wide appeal.
Ending a six part series is never going to be easy, and I will say that I could have seen the ending going a little differently, but I can see why the author decided to finish things off the way he did. I’m always fascinated by how disappointing endings often are – not that this one was particularly disappointing but I think some might find it less cathartic than they might have expected. But if this series has taught us anything (other than to not irritate a squirrel-cat if you value your eyeballs) it’s that the journey, both throughout the story and beyond, is what’s most important, and I think this final book really celebrates that fact.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I bought this book myself. All opinions are my own.
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What say you? Have you read any of this series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!