Soulbinder (Spellslinger #4) by Sebastien de Castell

SoulbinderI’m absolutely loving Sebastien deCastell’s Spellslinger series and I think quite possibly Soulbinder is my favourite so far although there’s very little to call between them as I’ve enjoyed every book to date.

If you haven’t picked up this series yet then I would implore you to do so – are you afraid to be happily entertained?!  Seriously though if you’re planning on picking up these books then this review could possibly contain spoilers so beware.

The story this time around is decidedly darker, our outlawed boy Kellen and is wise cracking-butter-biscuit-loving squirrel cat are alone.  If you recall from book 3 they took off without their companions in a bid to save dragging people they care for into further danger. Kellen is still desperately seeking a cure and is still being relentlessly pursued by bounty hunters employed by his own people ever since he displayed signs of the Shadowblack.  There’s talk of an Ebony Abbey which Kellen thinks may offer some answers to his troubles.  He’s been searching relentlessly and trying to get answers any way he can, all whilst trying to stay alive.  It seems his search has drawn attention.

I really like what Castell did with this instalment.  He chucks Kellen into a situation where he can’t rely on others and it’s definitely a great way of making him grow as a character and whilst I missed the sass and wit that Ferius usually brings to the story I think this was a cunning plan and I’ll tell you why.  Just like Kellen himself, I was constantly expecting somebody to rescue him when he fell into any sort of danger and to be honest this shook me out of that comfortable lazy reverie and was frankly much needed.  With this book he has to start to rely more on himself – he also keeps thinking that somebody will come to his aid and with the sudden dawning of light that it isn’t going to happen he is forced to become self reliant.

I have to hand it to Kellen, he’s really coming on as a character.  There were a number of touching events that happen in this book, you observe him as he comes to realise that he’s left everything he knows behind, which is definitely a lonely feeling, you see him deal with loss, and come to a number of realisations about his own family.  Having found a bunch of other people also with the Shadowblack you have a moment of thinking that he may have found a place to settle down with similar people and then you watch him struggle to come to that moment of truth when he realises that he doesn’t really fit into either this Shadowblack camp or back home with his own people.  Here are two different camps, both so steadfast in their own beliefs and ways that they refuse to compromise.  Maybe Kellen will be the unexpected catalyst of change.  Difficult to say at the moment.

This book brings to us more insight into the Shadowblack – not everyone considers it to be evil although there is evidence here that it’s use can lead to madness and possession.  I really loved finding out the ways in which other people with the Shadowblack use it’s magic.  The fast travel was really intriguing and learning a little more of what Kellen is capable of.

I can’t really talk too much more about what happens in the book.  There’s a big old show down.  Kellen’s family become involved and as a result there are betrayals and revelations.  And the ending, well, I didn’t see that coming at all and it’s a very interesting development – well two interesting developments now I think about it.

I feel like this is a very brief review but I would point out that the length is not a reflection of my feelings for this series.  I read this and book number three within days of each other and if book five was available right now – oh yes, that bad boy would be in grubby little mitts right now.

This is a wonderfully entertaining, well written, creative series that is a great deal of fun to read.  It’s becoming much more involved as the tale progresses and the threats become a lot more deadly and I’m so attached to these characters now.  I hope Ferius has more involvement in the next book and Nephenia too for that matter.  They’re a great team and I care about them.  Which reminds me – *shakes fist* and side eyes author – you know why mister.  That is all.

I really hope this series gains the success it deserves.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

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Charmcaster (Spellslinger #3) by Sebastien de Castell

Charm3Charmcaster is the third in the Spellslinger series and true to its name it certainly cast a charm on me.  I’d say that this series is fast becoming a firm favourite of mine and I sincerely hope that plenty more adventures are in the pipeline.

I won’t elaborate on the plot too much here.  Our characters, Kellen, Reichis and Ferius are still on the hunt for certain ‘victims’ following the revelations in book No.2,  Shadowblack.  Their search is reaching its conclusion and they find themselves on a path that will lead them to Gitabria.

As with any review for a book midway through the series I would just place a warning here about potential spoilers, particularly in relation to earlier books.  I would also suggest that you read the whole series – I know that can be a deterrent to some readers as being behind by 3 or 4 books can seem such a hurdle BUT – this book is such good fun that I really don’t think you should cheat yourself of the pleasure of reading it from the start.  Also, part of the love of this series is the way the characters are being allowed to grow and that’s definitely something that you’ll miss if you don’t start at the beginning.

A different kind of review for me with this one.  It’s going to be more a list of what I like and a couple of minor niggles.

The reason I’m loving this series is primarily the characters.  I find myself just really liking them all which I think is a rare achievement.  Kellen is the main character and each new installment sees another layer added to his persona.  He’s growing up and learning what he’s capable of.  To be honest, a good deal of the time he feels very young and vulnerable and has barely more than a simple bag of tricks to arm himself in a world which for the most part seems pitched against him.  But, he certainly has something about him that makes you like him and seems to see him gather stalwart friends.  Ferius is another amazing character – I love her to pieces and could happily read a book of her adventures.  And of course we have the crazy squirrel-cat Reichis.  I love that pesky varmint, I really do.  Strangely enough, his character reminds me a little of my own dog – Dude.   He has this ‘don’t-even-try-to-cuddle-or-pet-me’ thing going on which feels so familiar and he brings a certain something with his antics and butter-biscuit loving ways.  Yes, I found myself smiling aplenty whilst reading this and in fact laughing out loud at some (okay many) points.

This story returns to us a character from the first book – Nephenia.  I can’t really say too much about how she ends up finding herself once again in the company of Kellen as that will lead to the land of spoilers but I enjoyed her role here very much and thought she was a great addition to the story.  That is all – I hope I’ve intrigued you a little with that particular teaser.

The other thing that I love about this series is the writing.  DeCastell just has a way with words that makes it so easy for readers to find themselves transported.  There’s no heavy handedness here.  On top of that although this has a comic book feel to it underneath the surface are some much more serious issues – of course, I’m saying that with the added benefit of already having read No.4 but it surprises and really pleases me to see the overarching plot here and to notice the way that the series is becoming more serious and a little darker with each addition.  Maybe that’s because the central character is growing up and as readers we’re getting to watch him as he changes.  I guess in that respect, and although the two are not alike in terms of storyline, this reminds me a little of the Harry Potter series.  The two of them share a character who over the course of the book is maturing – obviously Kellen is much older than Harry when his story beings but even so this seems to me to have successfully captured that element where readers become attached to a younger protagonist and then continue to read about him as he comes of age.  It’s a great hook and one that keeps you coming back for more.

In terms of criticisms, I think the only thing I would mention is that this has a little bit of a bridging book feel, although, again, in fairness I’m not quite sure whether I’m feeling that way because I’ve already read No.4 – it’s difficult to say now because obviously I can’t ‘unknow’ what I now ‘know’.  I guess the best way to clarify would be to say that this story has a familiarity to it that, whilst it didn’t stop me from flying through the pages, did lead me to reach conclusions ahead of the game a little.

Overall, and insignificant niggles set to one side, this series is just excellent.  It’s fun, it’s creative, it has loveable characters and crazy adventures against the odds.  It’s a series that frankly gives me a lot of enjoyment every time I pick up the latest instalment and makes me feel a little bereft when I complete the journey and find myself waiting, not so patiently, for more.

I would highly recommend this.

Where I got my copy: bought

Waiting on Wednesday : Charmcaster (Spellslinger #3) by Sebastien de Castell

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is: Charmcaster (Spellslinger #3) by Sebastien de Castell – publication is very close!  March 17th – which is just as well because I’m hooked to this series and can’t wait to read on.

charmThe third book in the page-turning SPELLSLINGER fantasy series.

‘I was getting almost as good at running away from enemies as I was at making them in the first place. Turns out, I wasn’t running nearly fast enough.’

Kellen has begun to master his spellslinging and the Argosi tricks for staying alive, and he and Reichis have found a career that suits them both: taking down mercenary mages who make people’s lives miserable. But Ferius is concerned that Kellen is courting disaster . . .

Perfect for fans of The Dark Tower, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, Terry Pratchett, Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Charmcaster (Spellslinger #3) by Sebastien de Castell

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is a real woohoo moment.  I’m loving this series and No.3 is on the horizon : Charmcaster (Spellslinger #3) by Sebastien de Castell:

charmcThe third book in the page-turning SPELLSLINGER fantasy series.

‘I was getting almost as good at running away from enemies as I was at making them in the first place. Turns out, I wasn’t running nearly fast enough.’

Kellen has begun to master his spellslinging and the Argosi tricks for staying alive, and he and Reichis have found a career that suits them both: taking down mercenary mages who make people’s lives miserable. But Ferius is concerned that Kellen is courting disaster . . .

Perfect for fans of The Dark Tower, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, Terry Pratchett, Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.

Due out March – time for you all to read the first two if you haven’t already.

Shadowblack (Spellslinger #2) by Sebastien de Castell

 

spellslinger2Shadowblack is the second instalment in Sebastien de Castell’s Spellslinger series.  I’m loving this series, it’s fun, it seems to have an independent storyline running through each book (well, so far anyway) and yet still brings in snippets from the previous story, it’s populated with great characters who, even though I had no trouble in liking them in the first book, have grown on me even more now and it’s just basically a book that makes you feel good when you’ve finished reading.  So, if you want to feel good, then what you waiting for?  Go, pick this up.  I’d say that this can be read as a standalone but personally I would suggest reading the first one – that way you’ll have twice the fun to look forward to.

Shadowblack seems to start a few months after Spellslinger concluded.  Kellen, Ferius and Reichis seem to have spent their time mooching about the Seven Sands trying to stay one step ahead of bounty hunters.  Being an outlaw isn’t all it’s cracked up to be after all and Kellen misses his home, his family and more than that the young girl who he was sweet on from school.  He manages to put Nephenia out of his mind however once he and his motley crew meet up with another Argosi female and her charge – Seneira.  Seneira wears a blindfold but it doesn’t take long before Kellen uncovers that this is simply a bluff to hide the black marks that he also carries and keeps hidden.  It seems that Seneira is similarly marked by the Shadowblack and Kellen and his companions undertake to try and help her – a job that soon turns into something much bigger once they reach Seneira’s home town and find this seems to be a plague that is affecting more than just one.  Is the Shadowblack spreading??

So, we once again have the same trio of characters and spending more time with them helps to tease out more about each of their whims and foibles.  Information about Ferius in particular is a lot more forthcoming in this instalment as the inclusion of another Argosi character seems to bring out some of her background.  Rosie is a really good addition, although she didn’t stick around for the entire story.  She’s feisty and I just loved the way she handled herself when in a tight spot.  It was good reading the two of them bounce off each other and argue the toss – it seems that being Argosi doesn’t mean you all follow the same path.  I’m so curious about the Argosi and want to learn more. Kellen finds himself once again becoming a little bit smitten – the boy is literally a walking hormone, and it was quite funny to watch his attempts at blending in with other people his age and attempting to talk to females.  The flying squirrel cat Reichis, remains a muttering, chattering force of nature who’s developed a love of hot baths and butter biscuits, and why wouldn’t you, sounds like a good combination to me too.

Aside from all this fun and banter Shadowblack is, I thought, a much more serious plot this time round.  It certainly isn’t all light entertainment.  A much more sinister plot unfolds and we realise just how serious the situation truly is when we have an unexpected death.  The actual bad guy is really only the tip of the iceberg.  I’m not going to elaborate on him further but he’s conceived a rather horrible scheme and he certainly isn’t shy of killing people or using them in quite nasty ways in order to further his own needs.

In terms of the world building it was interesting to spend time in the Seven Sands and to listen to the people who live there who seem to be underdogs really with very little true status.  It builds on the information provided in the first story about Kellen’s people and how they found themselves living near such a powerful source of energy and starts to highlight the fact that not everyone in this world has found themselves so luckily situated (although, truthfully luck had nothing to do with it).

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this story.  It’s a lot of fun – this always sounds like a disparaging remark somehow as though the book is not deep and meaningful – but, to be clear having an entertaining series to follow is something I love and I’ve found just that right here.  I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the next book or to recommend this to others.  It’s a very ‘clean’ read, the violence isn’t graphic and there’s no sex or bad language and so it could be enjoyed by young adults as well as adults which I think is another definite plus.

I know that a third book is planned but I seriously hope that there are more adventures in the offing.  I’m looking at you hopefully Mr deCastell???

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

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