Cast in Ruin by Michelle Sagara
Series: Chronicles of Elantra #7
Source: Harlequin / netGalley
Seven corpses are discovered in the streets of a Dragon’s fief. All identical, down to their clothing.
Kaylin Neya is assigned to discover who they were, who killed them—and why. Is the evil lurking at the borders of Elantra preparing to cross over?
At least the investigation delays her meeting with the Dragon Emperor. And as the shadows grow longer over the fiefs, Kaylin must use every skill she’s ever learned to save the people she’s sworn to protect.
Sword in hand, dragons in the sky, this time there’s no retreat and no surrender…
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I am *such* a fan of this series. In fact, the first book, Cast in Shadow, is what started me back into fantasy. (We were on a break.) Now, seven books in, I’m completely obsessed with Kaylin and her world. As the synopsis reveals, there’s a lot going on in this installment: dead bodies and an increasing shadow presence, plus some etiquette lessons from an unfriendly Dragon and the usual rigamarole of being Chosen (i.e. someone with incredible magical gifts that she doesn’t understand).
The identical dead bodies are what draws Kaylin back into the fiefs. Specifically, she has to negotiate her way through Tiamaris, the newly claimed fief of her friend, Tiamaris, who happens to be the youngest Dragon in the Empire. Tiamaris and Tara, the avatar of the Tower that holds the heart of the fief, are trying to rebuild their land while combating the shadows. Tiamaris is also the home of the newly arrived Norannir (who showed up in the last book), a group of foreigners who frighten the locals but are willing to fight the shadows with Tiamaris and Tara.
As you can probably guess, there’s a lot going on in Cast in Ruin but Michelle Sagara juggles it well, delivering a fantastic story. In fact, she met all of my expectations and more with this one. There’s so much action and adventure, plus we get to learn more about the shadows and the Norannir. As a result, there’s some great world building, since we learn more about Dragons and about what the presence of the Norannir means for Elantra.
If that’s not enough to get you interested, Kaylin finally starts talking about her past in Cast in Ruin. She finally talks with Severn about what happened to her between her childhood in the fief with Severn and her life as a Hawk. We learned about it earlier in the series but this is the first time that she’s tried to talk about it with Severn. Kaylin’s not the chattiest character when it comes to personal matters so it was definitely a moment of HUGE personal growth. She’s also gotten better at holding her tongue in volatile situations, so perhaps we’re on our way to a more politically savvy Kaylin? I don’t know if I actually want that because I love Kaylin the way she is but I also love the idea of her becoming a bit more refined.
Michelle Sagara’s also laid the seeds for another story, since Kaylin strikes a deal with Lord Nightshade. I really hope the next installment in the series is them on a road trip. The awkwardness and potential political and romantic fallout would be epic.
If you’d like a taste of Cast in Ruin, Harlequin has posted an excerpt here.