This is one of my reads this weekend during the 24-hour read-a-thon. I bought this a while ago but hadn’t had the time to read it until now.
The Premise: This is the fifth book in the Chronicles of Elantra series which is a fantasy set in the city of Elantra, where Kaylin Neya, a member of one of the arms of law, called the Hawks, lives. Kaylin is the focus of a lot of attention because of mysterious symbols written all over her body, which have been there since her birth, and for the amazing things she can sometimes do. In this installment, the story continues shortly after the events in Cast in Fury when a message makes it’s way to Kaylin, demanding her help with something that’s disrupting the fiefs.
My Thoughts: By this book, the characters surrounding Kaylin have been introduced, but we get some surprising background into Kaylin’s past when someone she knows from the fiefs shows up on Kaylin and Severn’s patrol with a message from the fieflord Barren. I don’t remember if it was mentioned in any of the earlier books in this series, but we discover that Kaylin spent time in Barren in between leaving Nightshade and before joining the Hawks. Exactly what she was doing there is slowly revealed in this book. I liked that I was learning some new back story about Kaylin, and we also get surprised by a different view of Lord Nightshade. I think I got part of my wish after reading the last book, which was to learn more about Kaylin and her powers. Each of the books in this series has delved a little into the different people of Elantra, and this time we’re circling back to the fiefs and to the characters and their pasts. I’m a big fan of the way Sagara writes her cities and the characters in them. It always feels like there’s a lot interesting things that the reader wants to know more about, so I’m glad that in each successive book, we learn something new. I also wanted to see more relationship development between Kaylin and the other characters, which we do see, however, don’t expect much romance in this one. Although the book is published by Luna, an imprint of Harlequin books, the romance in this series is very low and usually only faintly hinted at. In this installment there is even less than that.
When this series first came out, I think I read the first book like it was candy. I loved the idea. When the second book came out, I loved it even more than the first (it’s my favorite of the series). Then in the third and fourth, I started to have some problems (which I brought up in my earlier reviews): there were too many times where people either berate Kaylin for asking some obvious question about the world that she should know the answer to, or would just NOT tell Kaylin something because it was some taboo to talk about and again, Kaylin is just an idiot for asking. Meanwhile, Kaylin (and the reader) have no idea what the other character was going on about. In this book, thankfully, we don’t have another situation where the story would have ended 100 pages earlier if someone had answered Kaylin’s question, but we do have the usual – “Kaylin, I don’t know how you’ve survived for so long” comments. Sometimes I agreed because I know Kaylin is not supposed to be blabbing certain things to certain people, and she just can’t help letting secrets slip out, but other times, I just found that old chestnut exasperating. I know this is supposed to be part of her character (I’m pretty sure, because this is not a trend I see in other Sagara novels), but it still annoys me a lot. I hoped it would improve, but while Kaylin has grown over the course of the series, she’s still considered in need of learning, so I suspect it won’t for the next few books.
The other (bigger) problem I had, (and I suppose it’s connected), is that so much is conveyed through dialogue and I often had trouble understanding it. Someone would say something loaded with meaning, and it would completely go over my head. But I knew it meant something because of the reactions of the other characters. So I’d reread it. And still not get it. I didn’t realize how often this happened until the read-a-thon when I noticed that my reading speed was about 30 to 40 pages an hour, when my usual reading speed is more like 60 to 100 pages an hour. I just kept having to reread pages and it had a significant impact on my pace. I’m not sure if it was just because I was getting tired from reading hours on end, but I think that the way the dialogue is written lends itself to needing rereading for understanding.
Overall: My feeling are mixed. I love this author. I think that this book is very well written, especially in terms of world building, actual writing style and characters. I will keep reading to find out how things play out for Kaylin, however, with the repeated problems in understanding the dialogue and with how Kaylin’s character is treated, my enthusiasm for this series is dropping. I hope the next installment renews it.
Dear Author - gave it a B