Book Review: Michelle Sagara’s Cast in Peril

Posted April 10, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Young Adult readers

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Michelle Sagara’s Cast in Peril

Cast in Peril


Michelle Sagara

fantasy that was published by Harlequin Luna on September 30, 2012 and has 543 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Harvest Moon, Cast in Shadow, Cast in Courtlight, Cast in Secret, Cast in Silence, Cast in Fury, Cast in Chaos, Cast in Ruin, Cast in Sorrow, Cast in Flame, Cast in Honor, Cast in Flight

Eighth in the Chronicles of Elantra fantasy series for young adults.

In 2012, Cast in Peril was nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Fantasy Novel.

My Take

I am so enjoying Sagara’s storyline! I picked this installment up at the library and started reading it on the way home. I simply could not wait. And as soon as I write up this review, I’m planning to re-read it. One of the intriguing pulls this series exerts on me is that Sagara doesn’t have her characters react like regular humans. Well, sure, most of them aren’t human at all, but I still keep having that expectation, *grin*! Lord Nightshade is attracted to Kaylin and Sagara allows us to wonder if it’s sexual or merely her magical abilities, but she still hasn’t revealed which or if it’s yet another possibility. He and the Lady certainly reveal their race’s lack of concern for those short-lived animals and keep standing me on my head. Then there’s the very slow build of Severn’s romance. Oh, man, it’s a good thing the entire storyline is so interesting…’cause the slow pace on some of the romancing is driving me nuts!

This particular story is, well, not a bridge so much as half of the story that takes us to the West March. I’m assuming that Cast in Sorrow will reveal whether Kaylin succeeds as the harmoniste.

Kaylin is a challenging concept for many of the ruling elite and it’s her consistent approach to love and family, her insistence on caring for people that forces the many to re-examine their own beliefs.

Kaylin also needs to be careful what she wishes for! She is so not a morning person and being confronted by one such every frickin’ morning is not good for her psyche! Then there’s that loss that is all the more poignant for having been her first real home since her mother died.

Someone is playing a vicious game of silly buggers with fieflings.

Sagara has never hidden that the human life span is considered incredibly short by the Dragons and Barrani, but it really came home in Kaylin’s request: “Can you hold off on the whole war thing until after I’m dead?”

I hate being the only mortal in a gathering full of Immortals who think killing each other cleverly is the height of good manners.

Oh, ohhh, Kaylin needs pretty dresses for her so-fascinating trip through Barrani space. I enjoyed Sagara’s slow reveal of the truth behind the “inns” where the Barrani party stayed. She really does do an amazing job of teasing you along and bit by bit letting drop more clues in this amazing world she’s built.

Everybody keeps warning Kaylin to name the little guy, and for all the experience she has with names, I don’t understand why she’s so resistant.

Evanton, the High Lord and his Consort, Bellusdeo, the Tha’alani all see Kaylin as something important, and yet Sagara still has Kaylin in a menial position making very little money. Contradictions, contradictions, contradictions…

Again, it’s Kaylin’s words, her stories that save the day. The everyday tales that assuage the fire elemental, that remind the humans of their own lives.

The Story

Lord Nightshade requires payment for the information he provided in Cast in Ruin, 7, and that payment is Kaylin’s company to the West March.

You’d think that getting out of town — and in the company of the so-very-powerful Barrani — would mean life was safer for Kaylin. Away from the assassination attempts, the bombings… Nuh-uh. Kaylin’s presence simply means that life will always be interesting. Especially with her new baby dragon…

On the plus side, her lessons with Diarmat are having an effect.

The Characters

Known as Elianne as a child in Nightshade, she’s now Private Lord Kaylin Neya of the Hawks, the Chosen due to the tattoos on her body, and kyuthe to Lord An’Teela and the Lord of the West March. But now the attention is downright hostile since her egg hatched — an extremely protective glass dragon, a familiar for whom many a Barrani would destroy the world — and the way station chose the blood of the green for Kaylin to wear, making her the harmoniste.

Corporal Lord Severn Handred, a former Wolf who is now a Hawk, cannot be spared from his duties as Kaylin must be. He does however have his own secret assignment.

Lady Bellusdeo is the Dragon Queen, a rebellious golden Dragon who likes and respects Kaylin. Her companionship is very useful at their etiquette lessons: Bellusdeo is too much like Kaylin and yet, the so very punctilious-and-proper Lord Diarmat, Commander of the Imperial Guard ordered to teach Kaylin etiquette, must accept Bellusdeo’s questions and mutterings where he’d simply eat Kaylin. Yes, I mean that literally!

Lord Sanabalis is one of four Dragon lords at the Imperial Court and is supposed to be teaching Kaylin how to use her magic. The Arkon is the oldest Dragon at court and the palace library is his hoard; Bellusdeo knew him as Lannagaros. He also has some home truths for Kaylin about Bellusdeo. The Dragon Emperor “was born during the wars between the Barrani and the Dragon flights”. Maggaron is Bellusdeo’s Ascendant, a Norannir.

The Hawks are…
…the investigators headed up by Lord Grammayre, the Hawklord who has a soft spot for Kaylin. Sergeant Marcus Kassan, a.k.a., Ironjaw, a Leontine, is still cursing up a storm over the paperwork and overtime caused by the investigation into the extortionate chancellor of the exchequer. Caitlin is his unofficial second-in-command and she does a great job of funneling most of the paperwork away from Marcus. Clint, a terrified Aerian, is worried that Kaylin won’t be around to ruffle his feathers. Teela, a.k.a., Lord An’Tella, and Tain are Barrani involved in the embezzlement investigation.

Lord Tiamaris, a Dragon, is the fieflord of Tiamaris with Tara, the Tower, the gardening Lady, a very hands-on Avatar, especially compared to other fiefs. They make a good pair of rulers — the first to actually care about the people within their fief. Morse is Tiamaris and Tara’s second-in-command and very protective of Tara. Yvander is one of theirs and being tricked.

Lord Nightshade, Calarnenne, is an Outcaste Barrani fieflord chosen as the Teller whose methods of profit anger Kaylin. Supposedly, his role prevents other Barrani from killing him. Supposedly. Lord Andellen is the Barrani guard who has become a part of Kaylin’s life, and he joins her on the journey to the West March.

The High Lord and his Consort, the Lady, the Mother of the Race, rule the Barrani. And the Lady is still incredibly angry over Kaylin’s choices in Cast in Chaos, 6, and now believes it part of a deep-laid plot. She has got to learn to understand Kaylin! Other Barrani Lords on the trip include Lord Evarrim, one of Kaylin’s enemies and Teela’s cousins and Lord Iberrienne is also a cousin. Lirienne is the Lord of the West March.

The way stations are…
…the Hallionne, the hearts of the green, created by the Ancients. Each being is him- or herself the way station, an Avatar. Able to protect a vast area around them and stretch to provide food and shelter to whomever requests hospitality. Hallionne Sylvanne was the first, the tree. Hallionne Kariastos appears as the water dragon antagonized by Kaylin’s familiar. He is awakened by the Lady. Hallionne Bertolle, saved by Kaylin who now knows his name, and Hallionne Orbaranne are under attack. Wilson and Roberts are two of Bertolle’s six brothers.

Shadows, similar to the Ferals, but bigger, more lethal, attack them on their journey. And they can speak! Part of the Hallionnes’ purpose is to protect against these Shadows. Terrano was one of the children changed, and he intends to kill the Lady. Ynpharion is returned by Kaylin.

Marya is the chief midwife who calls Kaylin out when a birth is going wrong. Miccha Jannoson is a young boy reported missing. Brent is another of the missing.

Lords of Law and Lords of Chaos have one thing in common — the destruction of the other. Otherwise each Lord was unique. The Shadows were created by three of the Lords.

The various divisions within Elantra include…
Aerians, birdmen with wings who can fly, but they are not shifters. Barrani are the upper class in this society, although not the uppermost. The Leontine are lion shifters. Arcanists are mages who work independently of the Dragon Emperor while the Mages owe him their allegiance. The fiefs in this story — Tiamaris, Nightshade, and Ravellon — are only three out of seven criminal neighborhoods around Elantra. The beings who rule fiefs are the fieflords who provide the name of the fief itself, shape its existence, and protect its boundaries from the Shadows. Ferals are

Outlands are where the portal paths are located.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a background of blue-greens of a forest at dusk with fairy lights while Kaylin in her yellow-green blood of the green gown perches on a moss-covered log cradling her multi-colored egg, the gold bracer on her arm, her peach-toned flesh rising up above the simple horizontal bustline, her dark hair blowing in the breeze almost reflecting the breezy lines of the tattoos on her body.

The title can be taken two ways: literally, since the cast of characters is indeed in peril and/or metaphysically with their world Cast in Peril.