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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
The many problems with Cast in Peril 
8th-Sep-2012 02:37 pm
Summer
I finished Cast in Peril, I think. At least, the pages ended. But that was the least conclusive conclusion I've ever been handed by Sagara. While many questions are answered - such as what was in the egg that was... laid... during the chaos storms, why is the Consort mad at Kaylin, why is Teela so different from other Barrani - the bigger challenges of the story are elongated and then smashed together like rush hour traffic trying to break up.

This story was a gather, run, fight, regroup, run, fight, lather rinse repeat kind of a plot. Kaylin didn't gain any new powers, just new friends. Her talent for seeing words and Names moved things along, as did her healing, but neither one was very well defined. We don't even ever get a complete motive for the bad guy (though the supposition of becoming a Lord of Chaos is made).

I'll have to think some more before I can write up a coherent review.

Reposted on 9/23/2012 for Geek Speak Magazine:

Cast in Peril – Chronicles of Elantra book 8 – by Michelle Sagara

Quote: “Worry if you like. But guilt? No. Your guilt is an attempt to deprive me of the ability to make an adult choice – and accept the resultant consequence – and given what I endured to become an adult, I can’t allow it.”

Recommended: Only because you have to.

Cast in Peril starts out well. It starts with a bang when Kaylin (and Bellusdeo)’s apartment is bombed by an Arcanist, and Tara reports that people are disappearing from Tiamaris without a trace. While Kaylin is banned from her own apartment investigation, she is allowed to visit her friends. So Severn and Kayin begin their investigation into the disappearances, and discover that humans are being sold into disappearance all over the fiefs. The investigation is interrupted because Kaylin was bargained into going to the West March with a convoy of Barrani to hear the “regalia,” the Barrani story of creation. So she has to pack up and take off for beyond, leaving all of the dragons behind.

Of course the caravan to the West March does not go smoothly. During the first steps of the journey, the ancient powers that oversee the Barrani decide that Kaylin will be central to the regalia’s ritual, and Lord Nightshade appears with a role as well. At that point, the plot and characters are narrowed down to Kaylin, Severn, Teela, the Consort, three Lord antagonists, and some new assistant characters. The second half of the book was a rally, run, fight, regroup, run, fight, lather rinse repeat kind of a plot. There are over a hundred pages of it. The whys and wherefores are the plot complications, but they did not feel as strongly defined nor as individualistic as the shadowed lords in Cast in Courtlight. And when everyone who is left gets to the West March, the plot ends without actually telling the Story that they (and therefore we-readers) all came to hear.

While many smaller situational questions are answered - such as what was in the egg that was... laid... during the chaos storms, why is the Consort mad at Kaylin, why is Teela so different from other Barrani - the bigger challenges of this story are elongated and then smashed together like rush hour traffic trying to break up. We don't even ever get a complete motive for the bad guy (though the supposition of becoming a Lord of Chaos is made). The book’s ending was the least conclusive conclusion yet in this series.

I have to recommend that anyone following the series read this book, because there are important things we learn in it, and the Elantra world is richer for it. The egg hatching and the relationship of the ancient Hallionne to the Barrani are two such things. Kaylin’s evolving relationships with Lord Nightshade, Severn, and the Consort are also important. Don’t pass this book by and think that you won’t miss anything. There is a lot here that is wonderful and exciting. You just might end up being disappointed by the ending.

New-to-me Books for 2012

January
House of the Star by Caitlin Brennan, YA fantasy. 282 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey, Fantasy. 404 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 2/5 stars on Goodreads (2 = "it was OK"), 3/5 stars on Amazon (3 = "it was OK"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt, Urban fantasy. 336 pages; paperback; first in the series. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); going to keep it around and loan it to friends
Hexed edited by uncredited, listed under the first author, Ilona Andrews. Urban Fantasy, 326 pages. Paperback; anthology of four novellas. 3/5 stars on Goodreads, 4/5 stars on Amazon; going to loan it to friends who like Kate Daniels, then likely give it away.
Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White. YA Fantasy, 335 pages. Hardback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Stormwalker, by Allyson James. Urban Fantasy, 330 pages. Paperback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson. YA Fantasy, 423 pages. Hardback, stand-alone. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Shadow Ops: Control Point, by Myke Cole. Urban Fantasy... sort of... 382 pages. Paperback, first in the series. [4/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.

February
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, fantasy. 672 pages. Paperback; first in the series.[4/5 on Goodreads] Borrowed.
Westward Weird edited by Martin Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes. Hell-if-I-know, 302 pages. Paperback, anthology. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire. Urban fantasy, 360 pages. Paperback; first in the series. Keeping it for now.

March
Fair Game, by Patricia Briggs, Urban fantasy. 293 pages; hardback; third in the series. Keeping it.
The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity, edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, Urban fantasy. 308 pages; paperback; anthology. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Tempting Danger, by Eileen Wilks. Paranormal romance, 301 pages. Paperback, first in the series. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Too Much Information, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes. Comic book, 127 pages. Paperback. 9th in the series. Keeping it.
Touch of Power, by Maria V. Snyder. Fantasy romance. 390 pages, paperback. First in the series. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Out Whom Shall We Gross?, by Brooke McEldowney. Comic book. 87 pages, paperback. First in the series. Keeping it.
Sonata for Piano and Armpit, by Brooke McEldowney. Comic book. 87 pages, paperback. Second in the series. Keeping it.
Sphinx's Princess, by Esther Friesner. YA Fantasy. 365 pages, paperback. First in the duology. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads.
Sphinx's Queen, by Esther Friesner. YA Fantasy. 347 pages, paperback. Second in the duology. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads.

April
Bone Shop, by T. A. Pratt. Urban Fantasy. Online. Prequel to the Marla Mason series.
Kitemaster and Other Stories, by Jim C. Hines. Fantasy. e-book anthology. 3/5 on GoodReads, 4/5 on Amazon.
How is that Underling Thing Working out for You?, by Scott Adams. 128 pages, paperback. Comic. Keeping it.
Teamwork Means You Can't Pick the Side That's Right by Scott Adams. 128 pages, paperback. Comic. Keeping it.
The Sentinel Mage, by Emily Gee. Fantasy. 509 pages, paperback. First in the trilogy. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads; 4/5 on Amazon.

May
Dragon Ship, by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. e-ARC. Science Fiction. Fourth in the series; 14th in the Universe.
Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers, YA fantasy. 549 pages; hardback; stand-alone. Giveawaybox. 4/5 on GoodReads; 4/5 on Amazon.(eta: gone)
Eon, by Allison Goodman. YA Fantasy. 531 pages, paperback. First in the duology. It was a loan.
Silence, by Michele Sagara. YA Fantasy. 289 pages, hardback. First in the series. Keeping it.
Divergent, by Veronica Roth. YA Dystopia, paperback, 487 pages of story, 72 pages of afterwards. First in the duology.
Princeps, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Fantasy. 496 pages; hardback; fifth/second in the series. Keeping it.
Black Blade Blues, by L. A. Pratt. Urban Fantasy. 398 pages; paperback; first in the series. It was a loan.

June
Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey, fantasy. 311 pages; hardback; seventh/eighth in the series. Keeping it for now.
Kitty's Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn, urban fantasy. 308 pages; paperback; anthology related to the series. Keeping it for now.
Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander, urban fantasy. 331 pages; paperback; first in the series. Giveawaybox.
Hex Appeal edited by P. N. Elrod, urban fantasy. 356 pages; paperback; anthology. Keeping it for now.

July
Spellcast by Barbara Ashford, fiction (urban fantasy). 433 pages; paperback; first in the series. Keeping it for now.
Monster in My Closet by R. L. Naquin. Urban Fantasy. E-ARC. First in the series.
Spellcrossed by Barbara AShford, urban fantasy. 448 pages; paperback; second in the series. Keeping it.
Cyanide & Happiness; Ice Cream & Sadness by Kris, Rob, Matt, and Dave. Comic books. 160 and 176 pages; paperback. Loaners.
Raven's Shadow by Patricia Briggs, fantasy. 334 pages; paperback; first in the duology. Loan.

August
Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews, urban fantasy. 433 pages; paperback; sixth in the series. Keeping it.
Greywalker by Kat Richardson, urban fantasy. 352 pages; paperback; first in the series. giveawaybox.
Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill, urban fantasy. 341 pages, paperback; first in the series. giveawaybox.
Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill, urban fantasy. 357 pages, paperback; second in the series. giveawaybox.
Charming Blue by Kristine Grayson, urban fantasy/romance, E-arc, stand alone (I think). delete.
7th Sigma by Steven Gould, science fiction / western. 384 pages; paperback; stand-alone (I think). Keeping it for now.

September
Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris, urban fantasy. 325 pages, hardback, 11th in the series. probably giving it away.
Something Red, by Douglas Nichols, e-ARC. Stand-alone.
What Do You Want to Do before You Die? by Jonnie Penn, Dave Lingwood, Duncan Penn, and Ben Nemtin. NonFiction, gigantic paperback, 224 pages. Giving it away to someone who needs it.
Cast in Peril by Michelle Sagara, e-ARC. Book 7 in the Chronicles of Elantra.




Books abandoned in 2012:
Vamparazzi, by Laura Resnick. Accidentally picked up book 3; couldn't invest in the characters.

In case you want back references, here is the Books for 2011 round-up post
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