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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Books: Cast in Honor, by Michelle Sagara 
24th-Jan-2016 10:31 am
Summer
Cast in Honor, by Michelle Sagara. Fantasy. Paperback, 511 pages. Book 11* in the Chronicles of Elantra. Probably keeping it.

Kaylin has a new home. She has her dragon roommate, her roommate's right-hand guy, two young men she picked up in the West March (one of which caused the last book), Kaylin's familiar, and quite possibly a wounded compatriot from the Hawks all living with her. That is most of the social tangle. Then there is the plot tangle, where a portion of the middle of the city has basically drifted off of its time/space anchor in Kaylin's reality. There is, in human words, a tear in the reality plane on which Kaylin and most of her compatriots live.

Let's do the time plot again!

The tear across time/space is growing, with the likely result that it will destroy the city (but not the fiefs). The two new characters in the book came through that timeline-tear from one of the possible futures of Elantra with the goal of stopping that future. And by the way, one of the reasons that the being called Gilbert made it into this spot in time/space was his forty-something year exposure to Nightshade (who has been missing for a book and a half).

This time, Kaylin's big philosophical muddle is around personal choice. There is the choice that Moran has to make regarding how she wants to convalesce. There is the choice of Bellusdeo going into danger that could actually kill her, or at least displace her from this reality. Our new character, Kattea, is young, displaced, and making choices that could kill her for lack of a timeline in which to function. There is the choice that Kaylin makes to try to heal a Shadow, and then fix the reality tear.

This was not one of Sagara's tighter stories. It's probably 100 pages too long, especially while the characters muddle around in the middle of the book. Certainly, it was interesting that it was raining inside of Evanton's shop, but nowhere near required for plot advancement. On the other side, I think that "she was unconscious" is a too-convenient plot-mover. It also feels lazy, somehow, especially since it was used more than once. If we are going to waste pages going around talking to people, couldn't we waste paragraphs advancing the timeline of the story?

I appreciate that, like many of the books in this series, the title is never discussed. Honor as a word is not used in the various arguments about helping Elantra's many races survive. Personal honor and its accompanying belief of loyalty are there as an underlying concept if you catch the right resonances. It also made the last few pages with Severn make more sense.

I picked it up because I enjoy this series. I enjoy the philosophical evolution of the main character, and I savor the richness of the character mix. I recommend it to people who are following the series. Maybe you'll get more out of it than I did.

*Amazon seems to think this is book 12. Unless they are counting "Cast in Moonlight" as a book, there is a disagreement here.
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