Flamecaster is a great start to the new Shattered Realms series. It takes place one generation later in the same world as Chima’s excellent Seven Realms series. Flamecaster focuses on a great new cast of characters, yet we hear a little about old favorites from the Seven Realms. Plus, we are introduced to a whole new element of magic, which I’m super excited about! (NOTE: While you can read Flamecaster without first reading Chima’s previous series, there are spoilers for the Seven Realms series throughout the book as well as in this recap.)
Cinda Williams Chima
4.3 stars on Amazon
4.11 stars on Goodreads
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Shattered Realms Series
Point of View
This book is written in third person from a variety of points of view, predominantly Ash’s and Jenna’s.
This book is set in the fictional lands of the Seven Kingdoms, predominantly in the land of Arden and in the city of Delphi.
– Ash (Adrian sul’Han) – the son of Queen Raisa and Han Alister; a gifted healer
– Jenna Bandelow – a magemarked girl who has special skills; her grandmother delivered her to an adopted family when she was young to protect her
– Lila Barrowhill – a student at the military school at Oden’s Ford and also an agent of the Arden king
– Destin Karn – an Arden soldier whom the king trusts and thus assigns many extra duties
– King Gerard Montaigne – the evil king of Arden who wants to conquer all regions in the Seven Realms
– Evan Strangward – a pirate from the north and an emissary of Empress Celestine
– Taliesin Beaugarde – a Voyageur healer and teacher at Oden’s Ford
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in Flamecaster?
Thirteen year old Ash is a wizard gifted in healing. After agreeing to let Ash go to school at Oden’s Ford, his dad Han leaves for a meeting. Ash rushes after his dad and is grabbed from behind. Ash and Han fight valiantly, but Han is scratched with a poisoned blade. He won’t let Ash heal him because he’s not strong enough to take on fatal ailments. Han gives Ash his serpent amulet and dies.
Thirteen year old Jenna works in the mines with her best friend Riley and an orphan named Maggi. After work one day, King Montaigne and his queen tell them they need to increase production. Someone throws dung at him. He grabs Maggi and snaps her neck. Jenna rushes on the stage and topples the king. Riley falsely confesses. The king kills Riley. Chaos ensues and Jenna is knocked out. When she wakes, she discovers the miners faked her death. Jenna re-invents herself as a boy.
Ash intercepts Taliesin in Delphi on her way to Oden’s Ford. She tries to send him back to his family. He says it was his father’s dying wish that he train at Oden’s Ford. Taliesin agrees.
Four years later, Jenna is working against the government. Her team sets up a bomb to blow a key bridge. They see the king’s enforcers. They lie and are already gone when the bridge blows.
Ash is now a second year at Mystwerk in Oden’s Ford. Each summer, he poses as Adam Freeman, a healer, and secretly fights against the Arden king. Taliesin says she might be gone when he returns next term because she senses danger coming.
Lila invites Ash to a pub for an end-of-term celebration. He declines. Lila goes on her own and notices many men seemed to be drugged. She rushes to Ash’s room to check on him.
A priest of Malthus is there to cleanse Ash of sorcery. He slashes Ash’s arm and drinks his blood. Lila bursts in, grabs the priest’s knife, and stabs him in the throat. Another Darian Guild priest comes in, and a fight ensues. Ash wants information. A mage gave them Ash as their next target. He won’t say who. The priest reveals Ash is Queen Raisa’s son. Lila acts shocked. The priest pulls a hidden knife on Ash. Ash kills him.
Lila insists on traveling with Ash. She thinks the safest place for him is in Fellsmarch, but he’s going to Arden to kill Montaigne. They argue about which route to travel, and Ash wins. Ash offers to take first watch that night. When Lila wakes up, Ash is gone. He drugged and abandoned her.
Destin wonders if he’ll survive the king’s wrath for his failure at Oden’s Ford. He is shocked to find Lila is with the king. She blames Ash for the murders and saves Destin’s life by taking the blame off of him. The king asks Destin to find the mage-marked girl in Delphi.
Ash arrives in Arden and goes to the castle to get a job as a healer. The main farrier was hurt last night, and Ash proves his worth when he is able to work with and heal the wild horse.
Destin is in Delphi looking for Jenna and having no luck. He needs a new method for his search and has an idea.
Lila brings a piece of seemingly ancient flashcraft to the king…a runed collar. The King says he wants 500 and tells her to hurry.
Jenna and her father find out about the new “health and hygiene check” in Delphi. They wonder if Destin is looking for Jenna. Jenna doesn’t want to live in fear and won’t let someone fight for her. Her father gives her items from her birth family, including a dagger and a broken pendant on a chain.
A horse is out of control, and Ash calms him only to realize afterward that the king was the one on the mount.
Destin is proud of his streamlined search using the barbers. He hears a fortune teller give an accurate reading to a young man and his much older wife. He wants his fortune read and the boy mentions Destin’s mother’s name and talks about a ship, rigging, a beach, and holding hands with someone. Destin is unnerved.
A boy asks for Ash because the queen’s dog is sick. He leads Ash through desolate hallways to reach the queen’s apartment. He throws something in Ash’s eyes to blind him, and Ash is attacked by another Darian priest. They fight and Ash prevails but accidentally starts a fire. Ash heals Hamon, a baker hurt in the fire. The king wonders why he hasn’t met Ash.
A traveler comes and knows Will, the inn proprietor. He asks about his daughter, Jenna. Will says she died. Will steps to the guards and impales himself on one of their swords so Jenna’s secret will die with him. Lyle the fortune teller wails and pulls out a dagger to stab himself. Destin realizes Lyle is Jenna. She’s bleeding out in front of him. He rushes her to Arden.
Ash is surprised to see Lila with the king. They don’t let on they know each other. She knows he’s after the king and wants to get Ash out of the palace.
Jenna continues to get worse as they travel because of her wound. She’s in and out of consciousness but soon is being carried into the palace.
Guards bring one of the runed collars for Ash. All mages in the palace have to wear one to suppress magic or killing charms. The king asks him to heal Jenna but keep it a secret.
Jenna is very sick and in chains. She doesn’t want him to heal her with magic. She calls him a wolf. Destin asks what she means, but she won’t elaborate. Ash can tell she wants to die and needs to win her trust. Ash takes her hand to get a reading on her, and a door opens up between their minds. They see each other’s memories.
Ash cleans her wounds but his magic can’t heal Jenna. He pulls the foreign magic out as much as possible so the wound can heal on its own. Ash looks bad as he absorbs the foreign magic. Jenna looks much better.
Ash is supposed to come with Lila to drink to the king. The first person in the crowd to drink goes down. The drinks have been poisoned. The queen drinks hers and collapses. Ash saves the queen with a potion. She regains consciousness for a minute and says she had a wonderful dream…that she died.
Jenna is bored, hungry, and thinks of “Adam.” Destin enters, drunk on wassail, to question her. She is resistant to magery, she can see the future or what a person truly is, and her senses are sharper than normal. She heals quickly and can’t be burned. She demonstrates with the flame from a torch.
Ash enters and worries Destin is hurting Jenna. Jenna makes sure he’s feeling better after healing her. Ash is astounded to see her wound is basically healed. She lets him look at her magemark and says she shares so much with him because they’ve looked in each other’s minds. They kiss.
Lila brings crates full of flashcraft to the king. A ship from the Northern Islands has just docked. The commander wants an audience with the king. The empress has sent gifts, including a powerful weapon, to exchange for Jenna. The king asks for “Adam” to examine the gifts. They are all harmless.
Jenna has a dream she’s a fortune teller again and tells Ash that he will meet a girl who will break his heart, bring him trouble, and make him curse the day he met her. The dream transforms into a vision of a dragon. Ash comes to tell her about Empress Celestine’s emissary and the bounty offered for her. They kiss again.
The king has a dinner with his council. It is a tense affair. The city of Delphi has fallen to the north with the help of local miners. The king chastises the commander in charge. The man asks to be dismissed to go home after 25 years. The king has captured all of the council’s families until the war is won.
Strangward and his band of pirates arrive, all dressed flamboyantly. Many are wizards, and Ash suspects Strangward is the strongest. Their magical auras seemed different. The king introduces everyone, and Strangward picks out all of the mages. He asks about the mage collars. The king can keep the gifts, but Celestine wants to see the magemarked girl before she commits to giving him the army.
Jenna hears a voice in her head calling her Flamecaster and asking her to help. She is presented to Strangward. He asks to see the magemark. He wants to question Jenna in private. The king says only after the trade is made.
Lila and Destin go to Strangward’s ship and discover the weapon is a young dragon. He wants to exchange the dragon for Jenna. They’ll take her back to the north. If she’s who they’re looking for, they’ll send their army. The king will not make the trade without the army. Strangward will take this proposal to the empress.
Lila reveals to Ash that she is Amon Byrne’s daughter. Taliesin told Raisa Ash was in Oden’s Ford years ago. Captain Byrne sent Lila there to spy on Ash. She’s a big supplier of flashcraft for the Ardenine army, except they don’t work as intended. She mentions Micah Bayar is the high wizard now. Lila needs Ash to kill Jenna to end this alliance that could hurt the Fells. Ash won’t.
Ash tells Jenna the king couldn’t make a deal with Strangward and Delphi has fallen. Jenna dances Ash around the room. She hears the word Flamecaster in her head again and tells Ash about it. He tells Jenna about the dragon, and she feels like she should remember something about dragons. Jenna decides the best way to end this is her death. Ash won’t accept it. She says they should blow up Strangward’s ship. She gives him instructions and asks him to free the dragon. They kiss. He gives her poison berries to use, just in case. She gives him the old pendant that was her father’s.
Ash and Lila head to Strangward’s ship. Lila sets up the explosives while Ash frees the dragon. The dragon is wearing a collar similar to Ash’s. A pack of priests have boarded. Ash needs his full magical powers, and Lila uses a key to remove his collar. Ash’s power rushes in. Lila is cut but is fine. Ash un-collars the dragon to help defend them.
Jenna is alone in her tower room and hears the voice saying Flamecaster. Strangward and his crew arrive. Jenna feels a familiarity and so does he. She feels his magic as he touches her magemark. He can’t feel magic in her. They don’t want to kill Jenna but feel like they need to. She tries to escape. Someone grabs her from behind. The room goes up in flames, but her skin feels numb. She is protected by scales the color of her hair.
Ash and the dragon fight the priests. Ash finds someone to care for Lila’s wound and rushes back onto the ship for the dragon and Strangward. He wonders if Strangward went after Jenna.
A dragon swoops into Jenna’s room. She tells it her name and hears it echoing in its head. With Jenna hanging on, the dragon takes off. They fly away from the city, still communicating through their thoughts. They hear Strangward’s ship explode. They land on a beach far away from the city.
Ash sees the destruction in Jenna’s tower and hears that a demon was there. Two of Strangward’s men are dead. The king and queen are safe. Ash can’t find Jenna. The king knows who “Adam” really is. He attacks Ash in Jenna’s room, and Ash stabs him with an infected needle. The queen pushes the king out the window to his death. Her son will now assume the throne, and she will guide him.
How did Flamecaster end?
Ash looks everywhere for Jenna to no avail. People saw the dragon flying eastward toward the sea. Lila wonders if Jenna was kidnapped instead of dead. Ash is skeptical because they’ve not heard one word about it. Ash is headed home after four years. His relationship with Jenna made him realize what’s important.
Strangward is in a far away port. Teza arrives and is surprised Destin isn’t with him. Strangward was late because he ran into trouble at sea. The empress’ spies are everywhere, and Strangward thinks she’ll go after Jenna herself. Teza has a new ship for them. Teza mentions the two collars found on his former ship…the dragon’s and Ash’s. Strangward is surprised to hear one of the collars was the healer’s. Strangward wonders if the Fellsains are the ones who wanted to make sure the deal with Arden didn’t happen. Strangward assumes Jenna is dead and says they don’t know any more than before. He’s glad the empress didn’t get Jenna and have even more power. Strangward thinks the empress will go back to hunting him now. He tells Teza it’s time to leave on the tide.
There you go! That’s what happened in Flamecaster, the first book in the Shattered Realms series. Shadowcaster (book 2) is set to be released on April 4, 2017!
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