Cast In Fury is the fourth book in the Chronicles of Elantra series, and I've been waiting for it – I had it pre-ordered a while ago, and luckily for me, I got it a week early. I was in the middle of two other books, but I put them down and started reading this instead! The release date is officially October 1st.
This series is in a fantasy world populated by a few different races living together in the city of Elantra, which is ruled by a dragon emperor. The protagonist is Kaylin Neya, a once orphaned girl living in poverty but who has worked to become a Hawk, one of the three organizations that police her city. What makes her unusual is that she has mysterious words that suddenly showed up on her skin, and linked to them are powers she doesn't really understand, but somehow, when she really needs it, she manages to do amazing things. Her ignorance about how her power works is the reason why some let her live, but she is constantly caught up in power plays and secret politics within the different groups. Book three (Cast in Secret) centered on the Tha'alini, a race of empaths, and book two (Cast in Courtlight) on the Barrani – immortals who remind me of elves. This book touches on them as well but mostly it seems to focus on an issue amongst the Leontines. Her sergeant Marcus, who is Leontine is arrested for murder, which throws the Hawks off balance, and Kaylin is determined to help him, no matter how much he refuses it. There is also an ongoing assignment to babysit a playwright commissioned to write a play about the Tha'alini, who after the events in the previous book, people (incorrectly) fear. The hope is to calm the city with a positive story about them and what happened.
I have no idea what this cover art is supposed to represent – it's strange – the model doesn't look like the same one in other books, I don't recall Kaylin wearing dresses, and she doesn't deal with a huge wall of water being held back with the force of her hand at all. Not in this book. Very puzzling!
Overall: Well I think this was not as strong as some of the other books in this series, but as usual the world and character building is top notch. I felt that this installment did shed a lot of light on the Leontine race and Kaylin's special relationship with Marcus and his wives. The book showed a lot of how Kaylin's personality was influenced by this group – they truly seem like a foster family for her. The ongoing thread which started in the first book and which has continued in others regarding an Outcaste dragon trying to topple the empire also continues. There are a few more revelations about him and I expect that the series won't end until he gets defeated once and for all. Hopefully at the same time Kaylin manages to control and understand her powers.
Other than that, I felt like a trend is starting to develop here. Kaylin is thrown into a situation she knows nothing about regarding a certain race, and this race doesn't want to explain to her their particular history which is the key to solving whatever problem she's facing. Usually the world has to almost end before they finally reveal the big missing piece in the puzzle. In the meantime, she has to ask a lot of questions trying to solve the problem, and there is always someone around to look at her with an impatient air when she does. I'm getting annoyed on her behalf. I'd like to see something a bit different in the next book, and some more focus on her relationships and her powers. Not that I would mind learning more about the Aerians or the Dragons, which seem to be the two races without their own books, but I don't want yet another disaster that threatens a whole city to be the only way to learn about them. It will also be interesting to see what develops with her childhood friend turned steadfast and deadly partner Severn and the mysterious Lord Nightshade, who marked her as his Consort against her wishes. It seems like a subtle ongoing love triangle that gets hinted at throughout the books, and it's fascinating to watch it develop.
I was trying to think of who to recommend if you like this author, but nothing quite springs to mind right now. Maybe Robin McKinley if she wrote series? I recommend her backlist.