Once again, my son and I have finished reading a book together. He enjoyed the first two books of the Chronicles of Elantra, which is why we just finished the third one, Cast in Secret. My son’s conclusion about Cast in Secret was to get me to begin reading the next in line. He laughed a couple of times, giggled some and seemed touched by certain parts of the story. I had similar feelings in about the same places of the story as he did.
Kaylin’s attention deficit disorder is a good thing for us, the readers. This way Sagara has an excuse to introduce us to concepts Kaylin missed in class. Even though Kaylin knows she needs to learn certain principles about magic and ought to know more about racial relationships in Elantra, she seems to struggle with the same inability to pay attention to subjects she considers irrelevant to her job as I do. In social settings this proves a problem for her, and Lord Sanabalis is clear on her being a long way from ready to meet the Emperor (unless she wishes to be eaten). Some people need to learn from experience rather than theory (well, actually, I think that most of us only get true learning through experience). Kaylin needs this more than most people. This inability to learn any other way tends to get her into trouble.
I like Michelle Sagara writing about a person like this. With one dyslexic son, one autistic son and one autistic mother in this family, we are all stuck in that mode. My reading ability, age and gender have probably all contributed to the theoretical understanding I have of people. Face to face encounters can go really well, but like Kaylin I tend to break social rules. Admittedly, some of that disobedience comes from not seeing the importance of the rules, but there again Kaylin, I and both of my sons find common ground. Other rules are broken because we do not understand them.
Words. Such a powerful tool. And what a difficult tool it is to wield. Sagara does a great job portraying the difficulties that arise from not understanding what is being taught. Kaylin has a theoretical understanding of what the Tha’laani are, but she is petrified of them. Her terror is a common one in humanity – fear of the unknown. In this sense, all humans are autistic. But just because a race is physically able to read your secrets, does not mean that they want to. Unfortunately, we humans seem wired to think that if a person is born a certain way, then that means that they wish to wield that “power” over you. We seldom stop to think that the other person might be just as afraid of us, disgusted with us or simply does not care about who and what we are. I suppose that comes from our ego-centrism.
Thankfully, Kaylin is also the kind of person who tries her hardest to face her fears. Facing our fears is so stinking hard. But sometimes a situation arises that forces us to do so. And what do we usually discover? Well … The answer is given considering the story and the obviousness of the question. In Kaylin’s case, the Tha’laani children helped her face and overcome her fears . Children are great fear-breakers that way – if we let them be.
My review of: