Read a full summary of Stormcaster by Cinda Williams Chima. This page is full of spoilers, so beware! If you are wondering what happened in Stormcaster, the third book in the Shattered Realms series, then you are in the right place!
Cinda Williams Chima
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4.1 stars on Goodreads
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***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in Stormcaster?
The book opens years ago, when Evan was only thirteen, to tell his backstory. He’s an orphan who got picked to be a part of Captain Strangward’s ship crew. He thought it was luck, but the captain is secretly his uncle; Evan didn’t even know his real last name. He discovers more about himself and his powers when they encounter Celestine. Evan knew he was magemarked but had no idea how his powers worked until Celestine threatens the crew of the ship he calls home. He summons the wind to save his friends.
The story skips forward two years. Evan fled the crew and has lived in hiding as a crewman on various ships ever since that day. Celestine has been searching for him this whole time. He’s trying to slowly build enough money to buy a ship for himself someday, but the amount needed is most likely impossible.
He goes to collect pay from dockmaster Kadar on Tarvos, but the man has reduced his wages past his contracted rate. Evan refuses to do business with him anymore and goes to the abandoned home he always visits when he’s in this area. But the house is not abandoned anymore. The owners are there running it as a farm now. He comes across a soldier around his age when he approaches the barn, and the two fight. Evan’s wind powers blow the roof off of the barn and injure the soldier’s leg. His mother runs from the house to see what happens, and we learn that this soldier is Destin Karn.
Destin’s mother invites Evan to stay with them for free room and board if he’ll help her around the farm until Destin is healed. Evan ends up staying much longer, feeling like Destin’s mother is family. And the two men form a slow fondness for each other, too. They work together around the farm, Destin the slave driver with the ideas and Evan the hired hand (of sorts). And Destin, who is also a mage, teaches Evan what he knows to hopefully better control his powers. Their magic is very different, but Evan still learns a lot.
Destin knows there’s more to Evan’s story than what he’s telling. He knows the name he gave them (Lucky Faris) is a false one. When he’s healthy enough to walk to town on his own, he begins asking around to learn more about Lucky. He eventually discovers that the empress Celestine is looking for a young stormcaster mage around the age of sixteen who goes by the name of Evan.
Destin purchases a rundown boat that he and Evan rebuild together. He wants to use his funding and Evan’s expertise at sea to make runs for supplies and split the profits. Kadar tries to cheat Destin out of money for a dock space, but Destin owns it fair and square with his boat purchase. Kadar tries to convince Evan to come back and work for him instead of captain Destin’s ship. Evan refuses.
Destin and Evan purchase the things necessary and take out on the ship’s maiden voyage, just the two of them. Even though Destin is brand new at sailing, Evan’s mastery of his stormcaster skills allow them to make the journey safely. They learn each other’s true backstories and bond further on this journey. They decide to try to build a fleet and a business together. Evan will man it and watch after Destin’s mother Frances because Destin wants to return and finish the job he set out to do before they had to run away: kill his father.
When they make it back to port, a foreign ship is in the harbor. They rush home and discover Destin’s father, Marin Karn, has found them. He has already beaten Frances and has her held captive on the ship. He seems to read the relationship between Evan and Destin, but they downplay it and say he’s just a servant. Somehow Marin decides to let Evan live. He beats Destin and takes him with him as his captive. Before they go, Destin manages to pass his amulet to Evan.
Evan uses his weather powers to bring so much sand and silt into the harbor that it’s no longer usable. He uses the little money he has to buy up all the dock property for cheap. Once it’s in his possession, he uses his powers to sweep the sand and silt away once again. The harbor becomes profitable again very quickly. Kadar is pretty sure he’s been had.
Two years have passed once again, and Evan has built quite a reputation. He got much of the crew he used to sail with back from Celestine. It’s strange for them at first for the boy who was lowest on the totem pole to now be their captain, but they are loyal to him. The group is quite the successful band of pirates.
They sail far and wide, and any time they’re near Arden, Evan tries to subtly get word to Destin. But his notes are always met with short, curt replies. They never see each other until one day Destin sends a note to set up a meeting. Evan’s crew follows him to the bar Destin named, all suspicious of whether the meeting is legitimate or not. But Evan is dying to see in Destin and is willing to take the chance. He goes into the back room all alone, just like Dustin requests. Breaker, Destin‘s dog that Evan revived and has been with him ever since, rushes to meet his old owner. Destin realizes that Evan is a blood mage since he brought the dog back to life from a fatal wound Destin‘s father gave him.
Evan is relieved to hear that Frances is safe. She’s living with her family now. Evan asks why Destin has not killed his father yet. He says that Marin has threatened that Frances will die if he does. Evan wants to kill Marin for Destin, but Destin wants to be the one to do it eventually. He asks if Evan has used the blood magic on humans as well. Evan says much of his crew is former bloodsworn to Celestine. He always gives them the choice: they can stay with her and die or switch their blood swearing to him and live.
Destin finally gets to the point of the meeting. He wants to talk to Evan about another mage, Jenna, who Celestine is searching for. He’s going to fill Evan in on his plan to save Jenna, but first he wants to see the weapon he asked Evan to bring: a dragon.
Hal and Talbot have to fight their way off the beach and out of the area after they realize there’s no chance of rescuing Lyss right now. She’s sailing away to Celesgarde as the empress’s captive. The soldiers Hal fights are bloodsworn, single-minded and able to recover from mortal wounds. He leaves Talbot to journey home after they fight their way free. He wants to rally his people to join the Gray Wolf throne in their fight against the east. When he gets to the border of his father’s lands, a small group of soldiers led by a very young man greet him. Hal learns that his father is still away and his mother and sister are still held captive in the capitol.
Evan and his crew are making their way to Fellsmarch to request an audience with the Gray Wolf queen to suggest an alliance. They meet a soldier mage in a bar. It turns out she’s the captain of Raisa’s navy. Evan tries to give a false name, but she recognizes him. After both try unsuccessfully to get information out of the other, the woman promises she’ll visit with the queen about his request and send her answer back to Evan at the inn.
Ash and Lila journey home. Everyone is shocked to see him, even his mother who had known he was alive the past few years. She thought he had died at the attack at Oden’s Ford, though. They spend time catching up. He’s surprised to hear that his sister is all grown up and well-respected in the army. The two visit his father and sister Hanalea’s grave in the new garden area on the side of the church that his father had planned. Ash asks his mother how long it takes to get over the loss of someone you were in love with. She asks him whether he has met someone. He tells her about Jenna and how she is gone now.
Raisa honors Ash’s return with a private reception the next day. Lila surprises Ash by telling him she’s leaving immediately to go back to Arden to continue her duties as a spy. Ash sees old friends at the reception, including Finn Bayar and Shadow Dancer. He expresses his condolences to Shadow Dancer for the death of his fiancé. Shadow Dancer says he wants to be the one to kill the king of Arden in revenge. Ash doesn’t tell him he’s already killed him. Apparently the news that he’s dead has not made it to the Fells yet.
Shadow Dancer mentions a council meeting he attended this afternoon in which a storm mage was in attendance trying to get them to join forces with him. The council was skeptical of everything he said and are not willing to join forces with anyone just yet. Ash suspects it might be Evan, and then Evan enters the reception with Raisa. Evan and Ash are both shocked to see each other here. During the conversation, Ash learns that Jenna might still be alive, but he’s suspicious about this fact. Shadow Dancer learns that Ash killed the Arden king.
Raisa is shocked to hear that Ash was in Ardenscourt posing as a healer named Adam Freeman. And Ash doesn’t believe anything that Evan has told Raisa and her council because the story is different than what he told in Arden. Raisa decides to end the reception so she and her son can go talk in private about the things he has not told her yet. As they are leaving the room, Talbot arrives. Raisa is hopeful that Lyss might be with her or close behind. But Talbot breaks the news about what has happened.
Hal is home with his dad and brother, but he doesn’t accomplish much in convincing his dad to follow his plan. When Hal goes to check on his brother that night before going to bed, he’s nowhere to be seen.
Evan’s brought before Raisa and her advisers. Since Talbot told them that Chalk Cliffs has fallen, they are suddenly much more interested in what he has to say. Micah puts him under magical persuasion at the end of the meeting to make sure he’s telling the truth. But Evan can withstand persuasion. Ash wants to give it a try. It’s as he suspects: Evan’s reaction is much like Jenna’s. They check for a magemark and find one.
Ash goes to Evan’s room that night to have a one-on-one discussion. He finds out more about what Jenna has been up to and tells Evan a little more about Breon and his story and how he most likely now is Celestine’s prisoner. Evan can’t figure out why Ash is quite as interested as he is in Celestine. Ash finally admits that Captain Gray is his sister and may also be Celestine‘s prisoner.
Hal goes to Ardenscourt to search for a clue to his brother’s whereabouts. He figures his brother came here to try to rescue his mother and sister. Hal touches base with Bellamy, who used to serve under him in the Arden army. He asks Bellamy to get the word around that he has information that could help his brother Robert. After two nights, Robert shows up in the tavern Hal had indicated. Hal convinces him to come back home to form a new plan, but Destin and his men capture them as they are leaving the tavern.
Lyss finally awakes after a day at sea on Celestine’s ship. Breon catches her up on what has happened. They call a truce.
Jenna and Cas are following Celestine’s ship from the skies above. They contemplate burning it up while at sea to get rid of the empress once and for all, but they can’t be sure Celestine’s aboard. And they can’t get close enough to take a look. They’ll wait until she docks at home to attack.
Destin’s men take Hal and Robert to the high security prison for spies. Their cells aren’t too bad. After a day, Destin comes in to question Hal. He wants to know the specifics of where he’s been and what he knows. Hal is truthful with him. Destin is fearful of Celestine‘s power and the fact that she has captured a mage in Breon. Hal proposes next steps, but Destin will come to his own conclusions. The brothers will stay locked up while he considers.
Celestine’s ship arrives at their home port.
Destin goes to Marina (King Gerard’s widow) to share the news from Hal, although he doesn’t reveal his source. He wants to stop fighting the civil war and join with the Fells to fight Celestine. Destin thinks the best hope of unification is to free the captured families of the thanes. He proposes hosting a royal ball and bringing the families out of the dungeon to participate. Destin wants to make it a masquerade ball, and he tells Marina to leave the details of how to get them out of the dungeon to him.
Destin goes to visit Luc Granger—the despicable commoner King Jarat has chosen as one of his highest officials and who runs the prisons—to arrange it. He lays the plans out to Granger and threatens to reveal the lies he’s told about his background if he doesn’t cooperate.
When Destin returns to his quarters at the Cup and Comfort, Lila Barrowhill/Byrne is there waiting for him. She wants to see if he’s heard word of the empress and whether he thinks King Jarat would ever join with the Fells in battle against her.
The empress has new clothes made for them: soldier’s garb for Lyss and fancy court clothes for Breon. A guard tells Lyss that Breon is Celestine’s brother, and she confirms this fact when she calls Lyss in to speak with her. Celestine has put Breon back on the leaf, lacing it with a plant that renders him unable to speak. Lyss is furious. Servants escort Breon out so they can get to the meat of the matter. Celestine shows Lyss her bloodsworn soldiers training below. She says they can do everything besides lead themselves. They are too mindless for that, so Celestine must use non-bloodsworn military leaders. She wants Lyss to be one.
Destin brings military uniforms to Hal and Robert. They are going to go to the masquerade ball in disguise. He wants a token from one of them to give to their mother and sister to prove they are in with Destin. They give him their sister’s thimble that Hal has worn around his neck as a good luck charm ever since his first campaign.
Destin and Queen Marina invite the thane families to the ball. They’re skeptical and feisty. Hal’s little sister Harper speaks up to say she won’t go. Destin shows her the thimble and shares an old saying Hal’s mother used to use, convincing her he’s been with Hal and Robert. She can’t believe the news was wrong and Hal’s still alive. Harper and her mother promise they’ll convince everyone to go to the ball.
Lyss is trying to work with Celestine’s bloodsworn. It’s a frustrating process since these soldiers don’t have decision-making capacity of their own. And she’s training them to fight against her own people in The Fells. Celestine surprises Lyss with six of her Fellsian soldiers (three whom she recognized) since she’s been asking for more leadership help.
Lila comes to the prison to give Hal and Robert their masks and weapons and cloaks and then escort them to the ball. She gives them their marching orders: to find the thane families at the party (in sequined animal masks) and tell them to drift toward the punch bowl just before ten o’clock. When the clock strikes ten, chaos will happen, and they need to herd the families away from the party and outside to safety.
Destin and Granger escort the families to the party and make them promise they won’t do anything to embarrass the king.
The thanes and their families come before their king one at a time at the ball. Hal doesn’t see his mother and sister at first, but finally they are announced. Then he sees them interacting with Granger. He wonders why they dislike him so. Granger takes Harper for a twirl on the dance floor. Hal asks his mother for a dance. She recognizes his voice right away. Hal tells her the plan as they dance. She’s supposed to spread the word. Then she tells him out about Granger.
How did Stormcaster end?
Ash calls a secret meeting at the temple with the ragtag crew he has chosen to try to rescue Lyss. They have talked through everything and nearly arrived at a final plan when a palace representative breaks into the room announcing Raisa has taken ill.
Ash rushes to her side. He hears his father’s voice in his head telling him to get the amulet to his mother before it’s too late. Ash runs to her, grasping her hand and putting the amulet in it. Almost immediately, he feels heat begin to return to her skin.
He orders nearly everyone out of the room, leaving only his mother, himself, Amon, Marget, Jemson, Talbot, and Ty. He investigates the challis they poured their wine from and finds a substance in the bottom. But it is only the harmless tae leaves Evan and his crew use to brew their drink. Ash wonders whether someone was trying to cast blame on the pirates. He finally finds the real culprit, two-day lily leaves hidden behind a jewel in his mother’s cup, set up where it would slowly seep into her wine from a small hole.
Raisa says she saw Han. He says he’s been with them all along. Han tells Ash he sent her back to him. He asks him to come see him in Aediion. Han tells Ash that he, his mother, and his sisters have enemies at court and on the council. He advises him not to give his trust easily.
Amon can feel that his line to Raisa is broken. He is no longer bound to the queen. She actually died, only reviving after her contact with Han. The line has passed to Lyss now.
Lyss is out on the cliffs, thinking about all aspects of Hal and how she misses him. She’s so lost in thought she doesn’t hear Bosley come up behind her. He tries to rape her, but a dragon saves her. It’s Jenna and Cas. Through their conversation, Jenna realizes who Adam truly is and that he’s Lyss’s brother. They exchange information they have each learned about Celestine and her plans.
At the masquerade ball, Hal and Robert are spreading word of the plan to all the thane families. Destin sees Granger occupying a lot of Harper’s time on the dance floor, so he cuts in. When he hears all the things Granger was saying to her, he slips her one of his many knives so she can protect herself as she needs to.
As promised, an explosion somewhere rattles the palace, and fires are blazing nearby. Hal and Robert sneak the prisoners away as planned. They split into two groups to be less conspicuous, but it’s pretty easy to blend in because citizens are on the move everywhere, trying to escape the various blazes.
Lila meets them at Newgate prison. Hal counts heads and realizes they’ve got one too many people. Queen Marina and Princess Madeleine have snuck into the group. But if they have two extras, then that means they’re missing someone. It’s Harper. Granger found them and grabbed her, holding her at knifepoint. She eventually distracts him and stabs him in the neck.
With Granger out of commission, Lila escorts the group in a tunnel underground. They pop well away from where they began, just outside the city. Wagons are waiting to transport them. As they pull away, Hal questions Lila about where they’re headed. She’s cryptic at first, saying it’s Karn’s place to tell them if he hasn’t already. Then Karn arrives, and they realize she’s double crossed them. She wants the safety of the families just like they do, but she disagrees about where that safe place is. So they head to the Fells instead.
Karn realizes this might be a good plan. Everybody will be free to negotiate honestly, with no one able to harm the thane families or use them as leverage or be scared to argue their points for fear of their family’s safety. Lila doesn’t reveal her full plan, but her last question for Hal is “How would you like to be king?”
Talbot wants to swear to Lyss to be her bound captain. Ash and Amon decide it’s the right call even though she’s not a Byrne. They anoint her as such in a small ceremony.
The ancestor wolves visit Lyss to tell her about Raisa being poisoned, dying, and reviving. They tell her how the death broke the bond, meaning Lyss is now queen.
There you go! That’s what happened in Stormcaster, the third book in the Shattered Realms series!
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