Book Review: Michelle Sagara’s Cast in Ruin

Posted March 19, 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 Ruin

Cast in Ruin


Michelle Sagara

fantasy in Paperback edition that was published by Harlequin Luna on September 20, 2011 and has 457 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 Peril, Cast in Sorrow, Cast in Flame, Cast in Honor, Cast in Flight

Seventh in the Chronicles of Elantra fantasy series for young adults revolving around a feisty young lady with a heart of gold.

My Take

This has turned into a series that I just can’t wait to get my hands — and eyes — on. In spite of the whining ahead…*grin*

Sagara is retreating to her previous confusing wording in this story. I’ll read sections over and over trying to figure out what she’s saying…and it doesn’t work. I just keep hoping that eventually I’ll come across a section that does explain it. Whether it’s in this story or the next.

Kaylin is up for possible promotion AND a raise. If she can behave herself. And I’m impressed at how well she does do. I’d be spitting mad and showing it if I learned someone had been spying on my every move! I think Diarmat is trying to get a rise out of Kaylin so he can eat her. Meanwhile Sanabalis comes to the rescue. Twice — the second time is with the Arkon’s help! Oh, yeah, things are going to get even more interesting…!

It’s odd how intent Sagara is on the embezzlement issue, but there’s no real sense of urgency in it. It’s all talk. Or should I say tell. I am confused as to how the exchequer embezzlement has anything to do with how Tiarmaris is finding the money to rebuild his fief. I was under the impression that the fiefs are completely separate from the Emperor and his hoard.

It’s names again. Their importance, how Dragons earn them, whether they can be separated that concerns Kaylin. And those bloody “superior” Dragons are just too reluctant to spill any information. Too bad for them that Tiamaris is now independent of the Emperor and that Tara can speak Dragon — hee-hee-hee.

A very telling remark from Lord Nightshade on what he feels about Ravellon. Remarkably similar to what he felt about Barren in Cast in Silence, 5.

We learn yet more of the history of the Norannir people, of the Shadows, of dragons, of the evolution of the Emperor’s laws. I also think we gain some insight to a part of the Dragon birthing process. Sanabalis believes that Tiamaris is young enough to have learned to appreciate humans, that he was influenced by the Emperor and his care.

Sagara is delving into Kaylin’s feelings about Nightshade and Severn; it’s a fine line she’s walking here. Those etiquette lessons are not quite what I was expecting. They’ll be getting yet more interesting now that Bellusdeo, Kaylin’s champion, will be attending in future.

The Story

The fallout from Cast in Chaos, 6, has caused more and greater attacks by the Shadows on Tiamaris’ fief and dead bodies are popping up all over the place. The same exact one.

A greater terror — for Kaylin — are those etiquette lessons which she is finally forced to attend.

And she still has the egg.

The Characters

Private Lord Kaylin Neya of the Hawks sure is in demand. Something goes weirdly wrong and it’s her name that’s called upon to investigate. The tattoos on her body are what make her special — she is the Chosen. It’s been noticed that Corporal Lord Severn Handred is an ideal partner for Kaylin, for he is so much more diplomatic.

Lord Tiamaris, a Dragon, is the fieflord of Tiamaris with Tara, the Tower, the Lady, a very hands-on Avatar, especially compared to other fiefs. She does love to garden. Morse is Tiamaris and Tara’s second-in-command; she was the former fieflord’s second as well and protected Kaylin then. Susa is a child within the fief with information.

The Norannir refugees from Cast in Chaos call themselves the People
They have pledged to Tiamaris and his fief, willing to battle the shadows on his borders. Effaron, the traveler, is still the only one able to speak to Kaylin. Merjah leads the refugees; she was trained like an Ascendant but could never be one. Maggaron is an Ascendant, one of the Norannir children chosen centuries ago to learn and protect.

Bellusdeo is the Dragon Queen, who went above and beyond in attempting to protect. The future should be most interesting — Bellusdeo is very much like Kaylin!

Lord Sanabalis is one of four Dragon lords at the Imperial Court and is granting Kaylin a stay of her magic studies while the Hawks deal with an influx of 3,000+ refugees. I think he enjoys her outbursts. Lord Diarmat is Commander of the Imperial Guard and ordered to teach Kaylin etiquette. Yeah, it goes over about that well. The Arkon is the oldest Dragon at court, and while he hasn’t left the palace library in thousands of years, he’s making up for lost time; Bellusdeo knew him as Lannagaros. The Dragon Emperor “was born during the wars between the Barrani and the Dragon flights” and is anxious for Kaylin to pass her etiquette lessons. She’s a wild card in his hoard with a great deal of power. Although, by the end of this story, he feels he owes her one. He considers Elantra his hoard.

Garavan Larienne is the Chancellor of the Exchequer under investigation for embezzlement; he has sought refuge with the Human Castelord.

The Hawks include:
The Hawks are the investigators headed up by Lord Grammayre, the Hawklord who has a soft spot for Kaylin; Hanson is the secretary with a long memory. Sergeant Marcus Kassan, a.k.a., Ironjaw, a Leontine, is back and cursing up a storm over the paperwork generated by the world almost ending. Nor does he intend to suffer alone as he’s pulled in just about every Hawk to do desk duty in taking down the public’s complaints. Kaylin has her own questions about the “conspiracy of evil chickens”. Caitlin is his unofficial second-in-command and she does a great job of funneling most of the paperwork away from Marcus. Teela and Tain are Barrani who have been pulled into the embezzlement investigation. Clint, an Aerian whose feathers Kaylin loves to ruffle, and Tanner, human who is still laughing at Kaylin’s expense, always seem to pull guard duty. Red (don’t call him Reginald!) is the medical examiner who is not as comfortable with Dragons as Kaylin.

Lord Nightshade is an outcaste Barrani fieflord who wishes to make a deal with the Hawklord in return for Kaylin’s time. Lord Andellen is the Barrani guard who has become a part of Kaylin’s life.

Makuron the Black is the Outcaste Dragon Lord living in the heart of the fiefs, in Ravellon. Nightshade has his own theories as to how independent this Outcaste is.

The various divisions within Elantra include:
The Aerians are 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.

The Cover and Title

This is my favorite cover so far — I think it’s the runes on the blade of the sword. Of course, the leather-clad Kaylin is looking remarkably pretty as well wearing the silver bracer and poised with Maggaron’s sword, tattoos running up her arms. The background appears to be a ruin, possibly a scene from Tiamaris’ fief.

The title could apply to so many possibilities in this story, that it’s just scary: Tiamaris’ fief is practically destroyed, there’s the threat of the Shadows, and the reappearance of Bellusdeo. All are or could result in a Cast in Ruin.