Review: Cast in Sorrow
Cast in Sorrow by Michelle Sagara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ms. Sagara continues the saga of Kaylin Neya and her quest into the heart of the Green. What is the Green? What do words mean? What is a nightmare? How is it different than a dream? I'm as lost as Kaylin. Kaylin is designated as the harmoniste on her trek to the West March. What is the job of a harmoniste? Neither Kaylin and the reader know what will happen but it will be something unexpected.
Ms. Sagara is an amazing writer. This world of Elantra is infused with magic following a defined logical order. Kaylin is the chaos in all the order. She makes decisions based on her heart. The Barrani make decisions based on rules and facts. When the two combine, it's explosive, literally. Just when I think I finally understand how the world works in Elantra, Ms. Sagara throws me completely off kilter. There is nothing familiar about her world. I enjoy this about her writing. I like being thrown into the unfamiliar where I need to use context clues to determine what is going on. I love seeing a completely fresh concept. Learning how the world works as the protagonist discovers it through trial and error is refreshing. There are so many twists and turns which are unexpected. While the reader may anticipate the ending, the journey there is one surprise after another. This builds a suspenseful gripping work of art, keeping the reader's attention.
Learning about the lost twelve children and what they have been come is frustrating at times. It's because Kaylin is thrown into a situation with no guidance and no manual. The people who can answer the questions are arrogant elitist who sometimes have the answers and sometimes don't. Both are the same result, they do not share answers with Kaylin. The Barrani take the axiom "knowledge is power" to an extreme.
While this quest is going on, Ms. Sagara brings up interesting concepts to ponder. The one which really made me think is about immortality and how it affects a race as a whole. What happens when a race does not forget? What happens when they have perfect memory? What happens when time neither dulls the joy nor the pain? Perfect recall combined with feeling the emotions over again sounds like a good thing until one thinks of the downside. What if the scenario is one where a loved one dies? To remember in perfect clarity the moment of lost while overwhelmed with sorrow and grief must be devastating. Then to think about when someone, a family member or friend betrays, how does one survive such crystal clarity? It's mind boggling.
What I really like about this series is the character Kaylin. She's not some super powered know it all heroine. She's a mortal who is treated like the unwanted ugly step child, yet she continues to strive to be better. She is loyal and wants to do the right thing. She makes mistakes yet they are ones which ends up working better because it is her intent which brings upon the desired results. These heavy concepts hidden amidst a complex fantasy world is what makes Ms. Sagara so good for me. She forces me to confront some of my rigidity. If I were a race in this book, I would be a Barrani. And I would probably be an Outcaste. It's stimulating to be around someone like Kaylin because she constantly challenges the status quo as well as demonstrates knew ways to achieve a positive outcome. Sure there is collateral damage, but it seems to be less than if it were to be performed the Barrani way. When a book leaves me thinking about how I behave and wanting to change to be a better person, it's a book worth reading. This book is about leaving no one left behind. It's also about choices and the consequences of said choices. There are no wrong answers, just outcomes which must be accepted. This epic fantasy is recommended to readers who love a character struggling for the good of each individual.
*provided by NetGalley
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