Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Book and Audio Review: Cast in Deception by Michelle Sagara

Cast in Deception

Michelle Sagara
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Chronicles of Elantra (Book 13)
Publication: MIRA; Original edition (January 23, 2018); Harlequin Audio (January 23, 2018)
Length: 452 p.; 16 hours and 9 minutes


Private Kaylin Neya thought her home couldn’t possibly get more crowded. But when one of her housemates, Annarion, decides to undertake the Barrani Test of Name, his friends refuse to let him face his task alone—and Kaylin’s sentient home, Helen, is the only structure capable of shielding the rest of Elantra from the magnitude of their power.

Annarion and Mandoran almost caused the destruction of the High Halls once already. Add nine of their closest friends, and the danger is astronomically higher—especially since these guests are at the heart of a political firestorm. Imprisoned almost a millennium ago, their recent freedom threatens the rulership of several prominent Barrani families, and the machinations of those Lords make it almost impossible to tell friend from foe.

As political tensions ramp up, the shadows beneath the High Halls are seeking a freedom that has never been possible before. Kaylin must find a way to keep those shadows from escaping, or that freedom will destroy her city, the empire and everything she holds dear.

My Thoughts: This episode of the Chronicles on Elantra focuses on the Barrani. It especially focuses on the cohort of young people who were sent, millennia ago, to take part in a ceremony that would give them great power or kill them. They didn't die but they didn't return either. Kaylin's friend Teela was the only one who made it home at the time of the ceremony. Two others made it back to Elantra more recently and have taken refuge in Kaylin's home because their time away changed them greatly.

Now, one of the two is determined to take the Barrani Test of Names and the rest of his cohort are determined to come to Elantra to take it with him. If this happens, it will greatly disrupt the political landscape of the Barrani since at least three of them are the rightful heirs to their family holding. Getting them home isn't going to be an easy task nor are they the people who left.

Kaylin is the last person that anyone would choose for a political task but she is dropped in the middle because she has invited them to be her house guests too. Since she already shares her home with a dragon - Lord Bellusdeo - and dragons and Barrani were ancient enemies, the political consequences are real.

While the complications of this plot would be enough to keep Kaylin busy, it is not the only concern. It is learned that someone in the High Court of the Barrani is dealing with Shadow which is the ancient enemy of all the races of Elantra.

This story takes place in a complex world. There are a variety of different races of beings with the humans like Kaylin being one of the least. The Empire is controlled by dragons with the Emperor considering the whole Empire as his hoard. Bellusdeo is an orphan dragon out of time who is of great interest to the Emperor because she happens to be the only female dragon. The Barrani are immortal and live in a caste system defined by politics. There are Leontines and other races too. The elements - earth, air, fire and water - have a sort of sentience and are kept in control by the Keeper. The world contains ancient sentient buildings like Kaylin's house Helen. Kaylin herself is the Chosen who has a number of marks all over her body that are words of power. She also has an acute sensitivity to magic.

Around the complex political plot are woven discussions of friendship and family, loneliness and loss, love and treachery. Each of the races has their own definitions of these and Kaylin, whose own basis for decision making is the law, struggles to understand the beings she considers her friends.

This was an excellent story that demands a sequel. I can hardly wait to read it.

Favorite Quote:
"I'd tell you to mind your own business. I have, however, lived with you, and what you define as your own business is almost criminally broad." 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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