Tag Archives: Elementals

Sagara, Michelle: Cast in Secret (Chronicles of Elantra III)

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.

Definitely recommended.




Cast in Secret available at Scribd.com


My review of:

  1. Cast in Shadow
  2. Cast in Courtlight



Le secret d’Elantra: T1 – Le Cycle d’Elantra

Coughlan, Andy: The Elementalist (2013)

The Elementalist

The Elementalist is very much an adventure story with earth, wind, fire and water elementals being summoned by trained elementalists. We also have pirates (or privateers as they prefer to be called themselves). I have never really understood the distinction, for what they do tends to be the same. But these pirates are good pirates, at least what we see of them. In addition, we get fighting of the sword and magic kind and a little love and betrayal. All of it is told with a twinkle in the eye and maybe a few winks here and there.

Poor Barin Elicerio! He’s not certain exactly what it is he is supposed to have done, except that he has been accused of consorting with spirits of a malignant nature. Barin is pretty confident he has not done so, but the evidence points straight at him. Barely avoiding the death sentence (who wants to sentence to death the star elementalist), Barin is instead exiled to his birth town forbidden the practice of elementalism. And that is a pretty harsh sentence to serve for a person who practically eats, drinks and breathes elementalism.

Strange things begin happening in Barin’s life. First comes the strangest storm the sea-side village has ever seen.

Barin knew the sea. He had grown up in this village; his father had been a fisherman. He knew about the winds, the tides, and the dangers of the sea. He knew that if the wind blew from the north, as id did now, then the sea in the small protected harbour should be calm…. Far below, powerful white-crested waves tossed the moored boats about like toys….

The wind whipped at them from all directions. The rain and sea spray glowed eerily in the milky light from the small lighthouse. Out of the darkness came snatches of the fearful cries of fishermen, carried on the gusts of wind that threatened to throw everyone into the raging sea.

To the rescue men, to the rescue. Some of the fishermen are saved from the wrath of the waves but not all. What Barin does during the storm changes the attitude of the villagers toward him. Or perhaps their eyes are opened to their own folly. Strangewort, the town Elder, finally accepts Barin, thus opening up the way for the rest of the village to begin treating Barin like something other than a pimple under the skin.

Then another boat fights its way to land having saved several fishermen from certain death. Privateers led by Captain Glib turn Barin’s life up-side-down. All of a sudden Barin finds himself breaking the edict of the Tetras and on the run trying to figure out what on earth is going on.

Courage is a strange thing and we find it at the strangest times and in the oddest places. Barin finds his courage when his journey to figure out why the elemental spirits are behaving the way they do begins. He continues having to drag it out, facing his fears and learnings. Perhaps the most courageous thing any of us does is face ourselves and admit that what we have been taught is only partially true. Barin gets a lot of practice doing that in The Elementalist.

A fun adventure taking us into the land of possibilities. I would say the starting age for The Elementalist would be from 8 to 10 years old.


Sagara, Michelle: Cast in Sorrow (Chronicles of Elantra IX) (2013)

Cover art by Shane Reben­schied
Cast in sorrow without text
Artist: Shane Rebenschied
Nice mood.
From scene late in novel.

Sometimes I fall in love with a character and end up following that character for as long as the author allows me to. Private Kaylin Neya is one such character. Cast in Sorrow is Sagara’s ninth installment in her Chronicles of Elantra series, and I am still enjoying my acquaintance with Kaylin. Part of that has to do with the growth of both the author and our Private. Cast in Shadow was extremely well-written and a fun young adult novel. Cast in Sorrow raises Sagara and Kaylin another level in my opinion.

Part of Sagara’s appeal for me is her prose. Patricia McKillip and Sagara share the same kind of tone to their novels. We are lured in with the beauty of their words and end up being buffeted from side to side by the winds of action.

At the start of the series Kaylin Neya is about 20 years old. She has been with the Hawks for seven years and was around 13 when she escaped the fiefs. Since that time about a year has passed. I’m not really sure about that because one has to allow for time for travel, how long her classes last and regular life between books. But according to other readers, this is about where we are.

In just one year Kaylin goes from a person who hates Severn, to one who feels great guilt about him, to one who accepts the role he has in her life. In that same amount of time Kaylin goes from a person who hates herself to one who more or less accepts that her fate in life is different to that of most humans. In accepting herself and others Kaylin also sees that her lessons have a reason and she slowly implements them.

In Cast in Sorrow Kaylin has come to the point where she is able to help Teela. She now has the tools (her role as harmonista and her latest experiences) and understanding of Barrini nature that are needed for her job.

Each novel has something to do with the runes on her body. In each novel Kaylin ends up as storyteller. Cast in Sorrow is no different from the rest of the novels in that respect. Once again her runes and nature give Kaylin a unique opportunity to heal. For that is pretty much what Kaylin is in each novel – a healer. Whether she brings female dragons back into existence, helps elementals be born, saves strange “aliens” friends, Kaylin’s mission in each novel is to heal something that has been broken. In Cast in Sorrow that is Teela and her friends.

I’ll be buying the next Chronicles of Elantra story as well. This is one person whose life I enjoy following.


McCorkle, Heather: Born of Fire (Channeler) (2012)

Born of Fire

According to Heather McCorkle, Born of Fire is intended for young adults. That seems a fair assessment.

Born of Fire is the story of the night Aiden was born. I have to admit that I have no idea who Aiden is aside from the main character of the Channeler novels. Born of Fire was also my introduction to him. Being present at a person’s birth isn’t the worst way to get to know a person. Talk about a dramatic entrance.

Me, I’m all for being in a hospital having people ready just in case something goes wrong. Aiden’s parents, on the other hand, tried to run away from a bunch of people called Hunters. I can’t imagine being about to pop when the bad guys catch up to you, because let me tell you, giving birth really hurts and you have no control over when the pain hits. Not a good time to be in the middle of a car chase.

McCorkle brought plenty of drama into her short story and writes that drama well. Good job!


Hunter, Elizabeth: A Hidden Fire (Elemental Mysteries I) (2011)

A Hidden Fire
Cover design: Flash in the Can Productions
According to herself Elizabeth Hunter writes contemporary fantasy and paranormal romance. The Elemental Mysteries series is a four book paranormal romance/mystery series. The mystery part of A Hidden Fire is pretty good while I found the paranormal romance bit kind of “romance novellish”. Why the series is supposed to be for adults is beyond me. A Hidden Fire didn’t have any bits I would hesitate to let a young adult read. It wasn’t overly violent nor was it especially sexual. Perhaps it has to do with a more adult style of writing and because it is about adults.

In A Hidden Fire we meet a 500-year old vampire who happens to be a rare book dealer. Giovanni Vecchio is copying down a manuscript in the library where Beatrice de Novo works.

Gio’s one great failing in life is technology. Anything he touches with his bare hands gets zapped. This means that he and computers are not compatible which kind of makes modern life a pain. But Gio has a butler to help him with all of that – Caspar (not the ghost).

Caspar is human. It seems vampires in the Elemental Mysteries world need humans to deal with daylight affairs. Like a lot of vampires in literature these vampires tend to get severe sunburns during the day. They also have to sleep during the day and be active at night.

Vampires are strange creatures. Basically, they are semi-dead or wholly dead people who wander around usually looking pretty good. Giovanni looks good for any age. I wonder if this has something to do with a predator/prey sort of constellation. If a vampire looked its age, it is highly unlikely they would attract prey. At 500 he ought to be a walking skeleton. I still like vampires. They are sometimes really cool creatures. The ones in A Hidden Fire are fairly OK if a bit stereotypical.

Caspar, Giovanni’s human butler, is fun. He is fond of his boss and his family has been in Giovanni’s service for ages. I guess it would be kind of hard to advertise for a human caretaker on Craigslist. Caspar keeps Giovanni grounded. If he didn’t Giovanni would get too full of himself.

When Beatrice de Novo turns up as the librarian where Giovanni is copying down his manuscript Caspar has her checked out. There is something about her name that tickles Giovanni’s memory. When Gio learns that Beatrice’s father died in Italy ten years previously his warning lamps go off. But Beatrice is innocent of any wrongdoing having to do with vampires. In fact, she does not believe in them, something she and I share.

Beatrice seems to be dramatic looking, intelligent and of Mexican/Spanish heritage. Her grandmother, Isadora, is a hoot. Matriarch seems to be a fitting description of her. The two of them make a good pair for their daily lives looking out for the well-being of the other.



  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1475049196
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: E. Hunter; 2 edition (October 13, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005VTVE0U

Heppe, Matt: Eternal Knight (2011)

Eternal Knight
Cover by Ken Hendrix

Matt Heppe has a couple of places you can reach him. One is his blog and the other is on facebook.

Hadde and the rest of her village, Long Meadow, live within the area of “The Wasting”. The Wasting is a mysterious condition that seems to afflict all life – plants and animals. For some reason the world is wasting away, leaving the land barren. While out hunting one day Hadde and her two companions discover an impending raid upon their village. They manage to send warning and thwart the invaders. One of the invaders has silver eyes that fade to black upon death.

Map Eternal Knight
Map by Steve Sanford

Hadde struggles with the village’s decision to slaughter their horses for food, and she goes hunting in hopes of finding food. A stag turns up that she follows. Hadde is led to a spot in the forest where the Wasting has somehow not taken hold. In this living space Hadde finds a gold pendant that bears the symbol of the goddess Helna.

All this sends Hedda to Salador for help for her village, whether it be temporal or magical. Along she brings Belor and their horses. Tragedy and adventure awaits.

Life is filled with difficult choices and tragedy. Pain seems to be part and parcel of life. Hedda is about to experience a lot of pain. Some of that pain is due to choices she makes while some of the pain is due to the choices of others. How she deals with death, violence, betrayal, friendship and love shows the kind of person she is. Like all of us Hedda is neither good nor bad but a combination of both. Finding her place in the world and discovering who and what she is creates dangers for her but also opportunities and growth.

I liked Hedda. She seemed so normal in an epic fantasy sort of way.

Eternal Knight seems to be targeted at anyone from young adult age and up.


  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1461009839
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461009832
  • ISBN: 9781452428444
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.8 x 9.2 inches

Bunn, Christopher: The Shadow at the Gate (The Tormay Trilogy) (2010)

Cover art by Alexey Aparin

Once again Christopher Bunn manages to catch my interest with his characters in The Tormay Trilogy. In The Shadow at the Gate the battle between dark and light continues. As this is a serial, you will have to read The Hawk and His Boy first to make sense of the story. Ronan and Jute had their incident during a break-in in The Hawk and His Boy. Unexpectedly, the robbery goes awry for both Ronan and Jute. The intention behind using Ronan (the Knife) was to prevent Jute from ever talking about the job. But both Ronan and Jute had their lives turned upside-down during that robbery.

In The Shadow at the Gate Ronan is commanded by the Silentman to get Jute back, or else. Ronan goes after Jute. But Jute is not easy to find. He has hidden well realising his precarious position. The kid wants to live, voice in his head notwithstanding.

Levoreth Callas arrives at the castle with her aunt and uncle. She is slowly waking to the necessity of battling the Shadow. But discovering where the Shadow resides, and in whom it is residing, is going to take all she has.

All three characters have allies/helpers that both hinder and aid them in their quests. Dunn keeps a nice pace in his story and manages to make the novel interesting for both young and old. I have forgotten what it is to be ten years old. It would be interesting to hear what a ten-year-old would take from the story of young Jute and the rest of the gang.