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Review – Cast in Sorrow (Chronicles of Elantra #9) by Michelle Sagara

Cast in Sorrow cover image
Publisher: Harlequin Luna
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

The end of her journey is only the beginning…

The Barrani would be happy to see her die. So Kaylin Neya is a bit surprised by her safe arrival in the West March. Especially when enemies new and old surround her and those she would call friends are equally dangerous.…

And then the real trouble starts. Kaylin’s assignment is to be a “harmoniste” – one who helps tell the truth behind a Barrani Recitation. But in a land where words are more effective than weapons, Kaylin’s duties are deadly. With the wrong phrase she could tear a people further asunder. And with the right ones…well, then she might be able to heal a blight on the race.

If only she understood the story….
This blurb came from the author’s website.

Hi, my name is E, and I really love Michelle Sagara’s writing. I have been a huge fan of her Chronicles of Elantra series since I discovered it **mumble** years ago. Following Kaylin Neya’s life and exploits as she just tries to do what she thinks is right provides me with hours of reading and re-reading pleasure. Usually there is a brief break between installments if only to let Kaylin heal and rest before diving headfirst into her next adventure but Cast in Sorrow picks up immediately after Cast in Peril ended. I thought that Sagara had left Kaylin and company in a relatively calm place to rest and recover but I was wrong because the nonstop action continued.

I found it very interesting to see how Sagara highlighted the difference between the Barrani who lived in the city of Elantra, traveled to the West March with Kaylin, and those who never experienced Kaylin before. Their very difference in outlook and strict adherence to formality was in sharp contrast to what she had experienced before, even in the High Halls. Some of that I think is because the West March is so very far away from the High Halls and it is another of those ancient Barrani holdings that exists for a definite purpose. The people and land of the West March were also scarred by the events of Teela’s childhood and its reverberating aftereffects.

The combination of Kaylin’s frustration and willingness to ask questions as she tried to learn her role and solve a few mysteries did result in some information about Teela, Barrani culture, and Severn. As a result, I am really curious about the rest of what Severn did when Kaylin left Nightshade so many years ago. But as events progressed it seemed like Kaylin couldn’t do anything right even when the results of her action were positive. It also seemed as if many of the usual laws, customs, and inviolable places within the West March lost their usual effect. The Barrani were besieged by enemies from both outside and within putting much of what made the Barrani themselves as a people at risk. When Kaylin’s pet dragon started demonstrating more of what made him equally feared and coveted I thought the stakes were even higher for Kaylin as the “Harmoniste” than anyone expected.

My review isn’t doing this story justice because so many things developed and some lingering questions from early in the series were finally answered. I loved learning more about Teela, Nightshade, Severn, and the dangers of tampering with things just because. I also found the inclusion of if not love than family loyalty despite all the Barrani said against those feelings played a prominent theme. One of the core elements of Kaylin’s personality continued to shine throughout all of her struggles because she never backed down from trying to protect those she felt deserved protection regardless of her personal feelings towards them. In fact some of her difficulties were caused by that protective instinct. Kaylin learned some serious lessons about what the Barrani will do in pursuit of their own desires. She also learned the importance of developing a strong enough will to hold her own against those who wanted to control her and against a hungry dragon. I think the Barrani and by extension, Elantra will never be the same.

Cast in Sorrow was a multilayered book. Kaylin was forced to make some hard choices. The Barrani had their lives abruptly changed so it will be interesting to see the future effects of the recitation. They also displayed weakness before two humans, which might have some repercussions in the political arena. Kaylin learned some of Teela and Severn’s past which I am sure will come into play in later installments. Nightshade also learned that directing or trying to manipulate Kaylin resulted in a roller coaster ride that deviated from his planned path and ending. After exhibiting some disturbing characteristics, Kaylin’s pet dragon changed into something that was still small and dragon-shaped but with unknown abilities. With everything that happened during this journey I am curious about the state of things with the Hawks and in the Fiefs because I know they did not remain static. Sagara’s storytelling ability continues to keep me hooked on this series.

I give Cast in Sorrow a B+

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By E_booklover

E is addicted to books. She discovered at an early age that not only were they her transport to far off worlds, adventures, and exotic cultures, but that she ran into far fewer objects if she walked while reading then if she wasn't reading. She reads across several genres, such as: romance, western,mystery, SF/F and its derivatives. She isn't too picky except for good characterization, settings she can imagine, and a story that flows logically... umm so ok -- she wants a good story. Have any to recommend?

7 replies on “Review – Cast in Sorrow (Chronicles of Elantra #9) by Michelle Sagara”

I do think this book was more of a continuation of Cast in Peril than a book on its on and I missed many of the characters that were back in Elantra. That said I loved Cast in Sorrow. We learned things about the Barrani, they have always been such a difficult group of people to understand. There was a great deal of Teela which I always enjoy. There was also answers and new questions. I want to know more about Severn’s missing years, does Nightshade have more plans for Kaylin or was this what all his manipulations were about, how will those two Barrani that go to Elantra handle the great changes that have taken place? And as you mentioned what is going on with the Hawks while all this is going on?

I love the Barrani and the getting to know more about Teela’s character was one of the best parts of this book.. but I do admit to getting slightly frustrated with how her prose seemed to drag on as they were in the heart of the green. There was so much description, I thought the narrative suffered a bit and could have been a lot tighter with less details.

I wanted more Severn.. but alas, this is just the fan girl/ reader thinking he didn’t get enough page time. I did enjoy what we did learn about his time before he was with Kaylin again. Come to think of it, there wasn’t a lot of NightShade either.. but that didn’t bum me out 😉

We got bits of Severn. I would like more of both him and Nightshade. He has grown on me… :). Teela’s parts both in this one and in Cast in Peril were very interesting. I have serious questions about her relationship with Tain now.

If I recall correctly, Sagara ended up splitting Cast in Peril into two books. I agree with all of your questions and can’t wait for the next installment!

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