Favorite Lines: “He held her, in the height of his Tower, and for a moment, she pretended that she believed in the safety his arms offered.” (507)
Kaylin Neya fled from life in the fief of Nightshade. At the time, several children were murdered and all of them carried marks on their bodies similar to the magical marks that cover Kaylin’s arms and legs. The murders stopped after she left and she found a new life in the service of the Hawks, a branch of the legal system.
The Hawks are everything Kaylin wanted in life. She learned to read, fight and speak several languages. Despite this she has a problem with time. She is always late. Her life is very different from what it was in the feif, but she is returning to the fiefs of Nightshade. Somebody is killing children again; children with marks on their arms and legs.
She won’t be going alone. She will be taking a Dragon lord with her and a man from her past who she knows she cannot trust. She is a unique woman with a weakness for children and a power that she has yet to discover. Kaylin must learn about the murders and even more about herself, if she is to stop an ancient evil from prevailing.
The world building is amazing. I’ve found no flaw with the six different races that inhabit the world created by Michelle Sagara. There are Dragons, Barrinis, Aerians, Leontines, Tha’ alanis, and Humans. All of the races have their own societies, customs and languages. They are all quite complex and interesting. I am totally fascinated by this world.
Kaylin is different though. She is covered in marks that magically appeared upon her body when she was a child and it is believed that because of the marks she is able to heal people. She moonlights with the midwives guild and is called to help with births when a problem occurs. She also volunteers at the foundling home where her love of children is extremely evident.
Kaylin is tough. She is imperfect and makes no excuses for her flaws. She is almost single minded in her belief of right and wrong. This shows in her love of the Hawk organization. She is in love with the laws that they live by and the stability that comes from them. We don’t see much of the stability in Cast in Shadows because so much of the book is in the shadows. We never know exactly what is going on because so many things happen in the dark corners of life.
Kaylin’s past plays a huge role in who she has become and this book forces her to begin dealing with those horrors that she wants to forget. Key to that past is Severn. He is a boy that lived in the feif with her, but at some point betrayed her. I can’t tell you what he did or why, but it is huge. I don’t know that I could react any different than Kaylin did in several of their meetings.
Kaylin has won the hearts of her fellow Hawks and it shows in their relationships. Her immediate superior, Sargent Kassan, a leontine (lion-like), considers her as one of his kits. Clint, an aerian (man with wings), allows her to touch his feathers, something that is considered taboo. The Barrinis, known for their perfection and coldness, have even adopted her as a kind of mascot. She has also won my heart; I will be a loyal reader of the Cast series.
Kaylin is a loyal and worthy heroine. She admits to being stupid at times and is extremely hard headed, but despite this she is able to adapt when it becomes neccesary. She is very human despite the markings upon her body that show her to be different.
As you can see, I loved Kaylin as much as I loved the intricate world that Sagara created. The secondary characters are wonderful as well. Many things are happening in this book and one of them is the relationship that begins twisting Kaylin and Lord Nightshade together. A large part of the story revolves around her trying to decipher the tie that binds them together and is a great incentive to continue reading the story.
This is fantasy at its finest. From wonderfully described landscape to the spectacular languages to the journey that the characters undertake. There is no sex, not even a hint at it despite my hope for a relationship to grow between two characters. It did, just not in the manner I had expected. Every relationship in this story grew.
I’m giving this book the best spot on my keeper shelf. I would recommend it to anyone interested in a great fantasy novel. If I had to grade this book, I’d give it an A+ or a 10.