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Cast in Chaos

Cast in Chaos - Michelle Sagara, Michelle Sagara West I am calling this The Cast Book In Which People Finally Answer Each Other's Questions. Not that there's not still plenty of evasiveness and need-to-know, but an astonishing number of queries (at least, for this series) actually elicit responses, sometimes even more detailed than Kaylin wants. It made for a much more satisfying read, and helped build a stronger picture of the world.

Metaphysical endings, in which rather than kill X bad guy or deliver Y plot token the protagonist must in some mystical fashion rewrite the laws of the universe, seem to be all the rage in books I'm reading lately. Who Fears Death had one. So did The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I found the later more satisfying than the former, but both ultimately left me feeling like I'd either missed something, or they'd been insufficiently set up.

Chaos follows a similar path--but in contrast, by the time I reached the final critical pages I felt like I understood what was going on, and that it had been well telegraphed from the start. (At least, I understood what was going on as well as Kaylin did, which is perhaps setting a low bar.) Some of that is because Sagara had five previous books to worldbuild, of course, but given how sparse the exposition was previously, this volume had to carry a lot of weight. And it does so while still maintaining a pretty brisk pace.

In fact, if there's one thing I regret about the book, it's that the plot is paced quickly enough that we don't get much time for secondary character development. The Arkon makes a fairly strong showing, and the other dragons to a lesser extent, but Teela and Tain are almost entirely absent and the Hawklord never appears on page. As for Nightshade and Severn--well, the good news is both romantic plotlines experience some movement. In any other series it would be so tiny as to be unnoticeable, but for the Cast books they qualify as gigantic leaps. The bad news is that Severn in particular gets no real development as an individual. He's still almost as much a cipher as he was in book one.

(Frankly, I'd be just as happy if the romantic plotlines continue not to move. Both Nightshade and Severn make me twitch as romantic partners for Kaylin. If I had to pick a pairing, I. . .think I would vote for Kaylin/Teela. Because why the hell not?)

All of this makes it sound like I didn't enjoy the book. But I did! The worldbuilding is great fun, and Kaylin's haplessness manages to be endearing. Not my favorite Cast book--that'd be Courtlight--but probably tied for second place with Fury. I look forward to the next one.