Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima
HarperCollin: April 5, 2016
Source: Free From Library
Flamecaster is the first book by the much-hyped Chima that I’ve read. I’ve wanted to read Chima’s Seven Realms series for a long time, but alas, time, there is never enough. Instead, I decided to jump right into Chima’s new series, which I understand is connected to the Seven Realms series. Having not read the other series, I think I can safely say that Flamecaster can be read as a standalone series.
Flamecaster follows the adventures and revenge plots of four people. There’s Ash, a young prince who’s family has been targeted by a rival king. Like Ash, Jenna’s friends have been murdered by the same king, and now she is being hunted down by the king because of the mage mark on the back of her neck. Lila is playing multiple sides, but it’s anyone’s guess who’s side she’s really on. And perhaps the most mysterious of all, Destin Karn, son of the powerful general that serves the dastardly king seems to have his own operation running that is contrary to his king. Each of these characters have their own motivations, but what ties them all together is their hatred for the current king of Arden.
The revenge inspired plot of Flamecaster had me intrigued from page one, as did the introduction to four different characters who all get their own point of view in the novel (yay for complexity of storytelling!). However, I must confess to not absolutely loving Flamecaster. For some reason it took me forever to get into the book; the start of the book was slow in setting up each of the characters and their reasons for doing what they’re doing. I impatiently waited for the four character’s narratives to come together and personally, I wasn’t overwhelmed when this did happen. There was a lot of build up to the second half of the book and I had to work to finish the book. The characters were compelling, but I found the plot to be slow moving despite the exquisite writing of the author.
The last third of the book is where the momentum really picked up, but ironically this was where I felt the plot started to get rushed. Everything happened so quickly at the end. I blinked and Ash was in love with the captive Jenna, and Lila’s true purpose was revealed. It all just happened so quickly, and I wasn’t expecting that considering the length of time I had to put in in the first part of the book.
To sum up, I struggled with Flamecaster. It was a hard book to be immersed in, which isn’t exactly a constructive piece of book reviewing because that is a pretty personal reaction to reading a book. It’s hard to review a book where intellectually I can see the merits of the writing and crafting of the world, yet that indescribable “something” was missing for me. I know there are many readers out there who loved this book, I was not one of them, and I think that’s okay.
No similar reads with this review. I’m feeling rather ambivalent towards Flamecaster, and no other recommended reads are jumping to mind. It’s a struggle to recommend similar books or better books when you neither loved nor hated the book you finding similar reads for.