Read a full summary of Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima. This page is full of spoilers, so beware! If you are wondering what happened in Shadowcaster, the second book in the Shattered Realms series, then you are in the right place!
Cinda Williams Chima
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***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in Shadowcaster?
Ash and Lyss are fishing years ago. Lisa confides she was never meant to be queen and doesn’t want the title. Ash gives her a pep talk.
Four years later, Lyss is out in the field with her soldiers. She congratulates Shadow Dancer on his recent engagement. Finn Bayar arrives. She’s always had a crush on him. They ride toward a battle.
Hal was assigned a post in Delphi nine months ago. He doesn’t want to be there but fears the king’s wrath on his family if he doesn’t obey. He’s excited for a battle in Delphi. The men assigned to his brigade are unskilled, so he trains them quickly. Hal knows the mission they’re assigned to lead is a suicide one. Karn grants his request to march immediately for the element of surprise.
Lyss’s soldiers battle Hal’s at the pass. Finn is hit, so his magical protections fail. Lyss attacks without protection and is nearly captured by Hal.
Lyss wonders why Karn sent these younglings to battle, why the mages turned on their leader, and why he didn’t kill her. She’s promoted to captain. They get word that Karn attacked Fortress Rocks while they were distracted. They go to the village to look for survivors. Shadow Dancer’s fiancé is among the dead.
They march home several months later. Lyss gets Shadow Dancer to come back before the holiday to sing together at the temple. Lyss is greeted by family at the palace. Juliana has been promoted to chief intelligence officer. Lyss and her mother disagree about military tactics.
Queen Raisa calls the leaders of the Fellsian groups together to discuss future tactics. Lyss says she wants to go on the offensive against Arden. Raisa says they can decide when the next marching season arrives. Lyss thinks that might be too late.
The night of the feast and concert, an attendant discusses Lyss’s name day celebration. A marriage alliance is important to gather support and supplies for their kingdom. It’s announced Lyss’s cousin Juliana is engaged to Finn.
Breon’s boss proposes a job. Breon is nervous but finally agrees because of the money being offered. The man (Darian) gives Breon a locket of Lyss’s and says to play until Breon sees the two of them leave together.
Lyss’s Aunt Mellony insists she borrow a green dress for the performance since she doesn’t have anything nice. Lyss is sad about losing the locket Ash gave her.
Shadow climbs into the carriage just before it pulls away. Their duets go great. Shadow Dancer’s original solos are wonderful. Lyss wrote songs about her mother and father’s love story and about why they should fight all year long (and not just stay in the north and defend).
Breon listens to the concert but doesn’t have a good view. He leaves and soon sees his mark emerge with a group of friends from a tavern, wearing a shawl Darian had described. Breon begins to play. She’s the only one who can hear the music. It lures her away. Breon looks like a fairy to her. He’s mage-marked on his neck and has brown hair streaked with red and blond.
Lyss hears her friends calling from a distance. Bolts start firing from above. Lyss comes out of her enchantment. It’s an assassination attempt. Cam is hit. Nothing can be done because the bolt was poisoned. The gray wolves and Finn search for the people who ambushed them.
Lyss waits for word on whether their attackers were caught. The only people they have found are three dead ones. Lyss describes the boy playing music. Sasha takes notes. They’ll put signs bearing his likeness all over the city.
Breon is on the run. He tried to help the girl at first but knew she was doomed. He heads to the bridge to get across the water before it’s closed off. Darian corners Breon on the bridge. Breon slips down a narrow passageway since he’s so skinny. He finds a loft to sleep in. He manages to remain hidden for two days. He sneaks onto a wagon and rides far away. He makes his way to a safe house his gang has.
Aubrey motions Breon over before he gets to the hideout. Whacks and Goods are dead. She’s acting suspicious and wants to skip town. Breon goes to the hideout and finds the bodies. He searches them for money and leaf. Three of Darian’s men come in to collect the bodies. Breon makes a run for it, finds Aubrey, and says they need to leave.
Lyss is surprised to find a group of her comrades assembled in a secret meeting. Like her, they think they should plan a surprise attack on Arden. They discuss a method of approach and decide to concentrate on Delphi. Lyss says she has to tell her mother.
Lyss finds Raisa at her secret rooftop garden. She overhears Raisa and Byrne discussing Ash. When Lyss walks out, her mother knows she overheard. Byrne leaves. Raisa says the secret was too big for 11 year old Lyss to keep. Now it’s safer if nobody knows Ash is alive. They’re contemplating bringing him home now. Lyss is confused, joyful, and angry.
Lyss tells Raisa what she wants to do in Delphi. Raisa agrees to the plan. Lyss’s troops assemble in the mountains outside Delphi. The various leaders meet with two of Juliana’s Delphi contacts and form their plan of attack.
On Solstice Eve, Delphi is rattled by an explosion at the nearby mine. Hal learns the miners are rebelling. He gathers two battalions to squelch the disturbance. They’re ambushed by northerners howling ‘for the north’ and ‘for the queen.’ Half the men are killed. Hal is eventually captured.
When he wakes, he’s escorted to Captain Gray. He’s surprised to see it’s the girl from the pass. She questions him about his troops and the happenings in Delphi. He answers carefully but honestly. She finds out the king sent Karn to search for a girl and likely found her a couple weeks ago because that’s when Karn left.
Jenna is traveling northward along the coast with Flamecaster. She wants to find Adam Wolf since he was from the north, but she doesn’t know his real name. She would also like to find Strangward to learn more about her heritage and her gift. She’s looking for someone to make a saddle for Flamecaster and a special outfit for her. A boy named Rogan says he knows someone in Fortress Rocks who can. He rides away with her drawing and says to go to Fortress Rocks.
Breon and Aubrey try to find the quickest way to Baston Bay to escape these realms. They end up in Fortress Rocks and meet Rogan. He looks like a clan trader and says he’s driving a wagon all the way to Chalk Cliffs in a few days, after a girl he was supposed to meet here arrives.
Jenna arrives and asks for Rogan at the tavern. She discovers his clan name is Shadow Dancer. She notices a handsome boy with multi-colored hair fighting with a girl while she waits for Rogan. Rogan talks to the two before he approaches Jenna. He takes her to Sparrow, who’s made a fine saddle and outfit for Jenna.
At Chalk Cliffs, Rogan asks Breon and Aubrey to wait while he gets the all clear from the guards. While he’s gone, Aubrey takes a look at Rogan’s hidden cargo. She abruptly leaves and asks Breon to meet up with her later.
Rogan returns and leads Breon to meet with a soldier. Breon tries to leave. Rogan won’t allow it. Rogan has suspected who Breon is the whole time. They see his jafasa and Lyss’s necklace around his neck. He’ll be captive at Chalk Cliffs until they get word from Captain Byrne.
Lyss is bored to death with the politics of managing Delphi. The mayor was killed and the city is in an uproar. The Fellsians will rule by martial law for now. One day Lyss heads to the prison for a change of scenery. She sees Hal embarrassing Bosley, one of her men, in a sword fight. She finally calls the fight and sends everyone but Hal away. She doesn’t believe Bosley’s story about how the match came about. Hal won’t contradict Bosley. Lyss gets angry. He finally tells her his side of the story. They talk about politics and war between their countries. Hal finds out their king has done some things not widely known in Arden.
Finn arrives at Chalk Cliffs. He and Shadow Dancer question Breon. Finn tries to use magic to ensure he tells the truth. It won’t work in him. They suspect it’s because of the mark on his neck. Breon doesn’t know what it does, whether it’s unique to him, or where he’s from. At one point, Breon’s chair bursts into flame. Both mages think the other did it. Sasha stops the questioning since Breon’s arm is burned.
Lyss allows Hal to continue the matches among the prisoners. He’s soon asked to add the Fellsians in as well. Lyss suggests the enemies fight together sometimes instead of always opposing. The two of them fight three times. Hal wins the first two, and Lyss wins the third.
They hear sounds of celebration. Raisa, Captain Byrne, and General Dunedain have arrived, surprising everyone. Juliana came back with them in tow. They have brought wonderful news…Gerard Montaigne is dead. Hal asks if there’s word on anyone else. He’s worried about his family. They believe his mother and sister were held by the king with the other thane families. They don’t know what’s become of them. They’ve heard his father and brother are at White Oaks.
Lyss learns they’ve captured the busker who duped her with the music. She wants to question him. They ask about Hal. She says he’s a good leader, his men love him, and he was dealt a bad hand first and made a bad decision the second time. Raisa wonders whether the new regime with Gerard’s son Jarat will be worse than before. They wonder if they can partner with the thanes and stop the wars between their nations. Raisa tells Lyss to take Hal with her to Chalk Cliffs. She asks her to try to win him over to help a possible alliance along. If the thanes want to be allies, she’ll allow Hal to go home.
Hal is constantly looking for a way to escape. He can’t get Lyss out of his mind. One night, the two of them end up alone in an abandoned castle. They make out but are discovered. Hal escapes one day. He’s found and brought back to their camp. His wounds are tended. Lyss comes in to apologize about their tryst. He says it wasn’t wrong and he wants to pursue the relationship. At Chalk Cliffs, Hal is assigned a nice set of rooms. He’ll join them for dinners occasionally but will be by himself and closely guarded otherwise.
Sasha takes Lyss to see Breon. He seems sick. They discover someone snuck him something to smoke. A healer determines it was poisoned. Lyss assigns Sasha and the healer to stay with him as he tries to recover.
Jenna and the dragon fly near the shoreline searching for food. They notice a couple ships. The smaller one comes close to shore. The pirate ship runs aground while chasing them there. Jenna sees the pirate captain standing on deck and knows who she is. Jenna says the name Celestine. The empress looks up at her and Flamecaster.
Breon works on his eulogy. He comes up with a nickname for himself…Shadowcaster. Lyss and Sasha question Breon. He’s truthful with them, but he doesn’t know a lot. He knows about his magical skill and his mage mark but doesn’t know how they work or what they mean. He knows he was hired to play music to Lyss, but he only knows a vague description and name (Darian) of the man who hired him.
Jenna approaches the small ship. It’s Strangward and his men. He tells her Celestine is after both of them and they have to stick together. He has a mage mark, too, and says he can control the wind and weather. There are two more like them that he knows of, both close to their age. Each time Celestine finds one of them, she becomes remarkably stronger. She has bloodsworn, physically enhanced slaves that are almost impossible to kill, tracking them. He has a piece of a mariner’s compass like Jenna used to have. Jenna doesn’t want to stick with him. Strangward’s going to capture her, but Flamescaster comes to her rescue.
Lyss takes Hal on frequent walks for a little exercise. One day, they see a creature flying high over the water. It’s too far away to see for sure, but neither one of them recognize the breed. They see a ship coming into port. Lyss realizes it’s Hadley’s. She thinks Ash is aboard. He’s not. She’s devastated.
Hadley tells how Ash’s room was attacked, several were dead, and he and Lila fled Oden’s Ford several months ago. Lyss is sure he’s dead and is furious her mother didn’t retrieve him sooner. Hadley wants them to go tell Raise. Lyss is afraid she’ll say something she regrets. They give her a few items that were left in Ash’s room.
Hal is lying awake in bed one night and hears a scuffle in the hall. The door opens. Lyss is there with a bottle of alcohol. She shuts the door and pushes a piece of furniture in front of it. She’s drunk. She wants to ask Hal riddles. If he doesn’t get the answer right, he has to drink. He refuses. She dissolves into tears, upset about her brother’s death. Hal holds her until she falls asleep. Eventually soldiers break into the room. Sasha shifts Lyss into her arms.
Flamecaster and Jenna fly toward Chalk Cliffs to warn them of Celestine’s impending attack either by her ship or by the soldiers with the strange wizard glow Jenna saw earlier.
Lyss wakes with an awful hangover. Much of her group has headed home to Fellsmarch. She stayed behind. There is a bang on her door; they’re being attacked. There’s a ship far out in the harbor firing toward them. They’re too far away to land hits or for Lyss to order return fire. Lyss is suspicious.
Lyss has Sacha get Hal to see if he recognizes the ship firing on them. He doesn’t think it’s from Arden. They notice something flying above the ship. The creature rips a mast off and drops it onto the balcony Lyss and Hal are standing on. The creature drops a man there, too. The creature uses fire and smoke to draw a westward pointing arrow in the sky. Someone is coming from the west. She sends troops to the wall and sends Hal back to his rooms. He wants to fight. She doesn’t want him in the fray in case the attackers are coming for him.
Lyss and her soldiers fight against their fearless attackers who seem almost possessed. It’s too little too late. Sasha asks Lyss to escape by boat. Lyss fears the water but finally agrees when Sasha asks whether her father would want her to save the Gray Wolf line. Lyss will only go if Sasha, Hal, and Breon come.
Hal is taken to the prison and put in a cell across from Breon. While the two visit about their crimes, Hal discovers Lyss is the princess. Lyss and Sasha soon arrive to retrieve them. They go below the prison to a small boat hold. Hal and Breon paddle. There are many close calls, but they get away.
How did Shadowcaster end?
The men row into the night. They sleep in the boat near shore. Hal finds a sailor’s flute in the bottom of the boat and gives it to Breon because he’s so upset his jafasa is ruined. They see a big ship nearing. Breon displays sailing skills he didn’t know he had. It makes them suspicious. He tells the others he will row the boat so they can jump out and swim to shore. Hopefully the big ship will continue following the boat and they can get away. He will go a little further and then jump out himself. Sasha and Hal jump when he says. Lyss is too afraid to jump and stays on the boat with Breon.
They row close to the rocky shore, hop out, and run. They’re separated. Breon hears Aubrey’s voice. She’s with the empress and has brought her to Breon. Celestine sends four men to get Breon. He begins to play his flute. The men fall off the cliff to their deaths. The music affects everyone except Celestine.
Celestine uses mage fire to burn Aubrey to lure Breon to them. When he comes down, she won’t save Aubrey like she promised. Arrows fly from above. Some of Celestine’s men grab Breon. A woman’s voice calls for Breon’s release. Celestine won’t release him. Arrows fly again and take down a couple soldiers. Celestine sends a bolt toward the cliff. The whole thing shatters. Breon doesn’t think anyone could survive that fall.
Hal and Sasha see the cliff in ruins and men strewn around the beach with arrows in their chests. They see a young girl dead, burned with mage fire, by the shore. They see a jolly boat far out arriving back at the main ship. They search through the rubble and find Lyss’s necklace. They also find letters carved in the sand: AG + BdT. They surmise Lyss and Breon have been taken alive. Hal wants to help the Fellsians find them, especially Lyss. Even though he might not be able to plan a life with her knowing who she is, he hopes he can serve her when she’s queen.
There you go! That’s what happened in Shadowcaster, the second book in the Shattered Realms series. Stormcaster (book 3) is set to be released April 3, 2018!
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