Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: epic fantasy, fantasy, urban fantasy
Series: Chronicles of Elantra #15
Published by Mira on January 28, 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
SOMETHING IS WAKING
The fiefs that exist at the heart of the city of Elantra are home to sentient Towers that guard the world against the incursion of Shadow. But between the fiefs exists the gray world of the border zone. In it, geography changes between one passage across a border and the next. The rules of magic are different there—and yet somehow familiar to Kaylin Neya.
When a Shadow escapes, Kaylin must find out how…and why. If Shadows can breach the barrier erected by the Towers, the whole of Elantra will be devoured. It’s happened on other worlds. Bellusdeo, Kaylin’s Dragon companion, absolutely believes it can happen on theirs.
The border zone holds secrets and ancient histories, and people are gathering there in search of its power. Without even understanding what that power is, or why it exists, Kaylin is in a desperate race against time to find those secrets first. She doesn’t know who her enemies are. She doesn’t know how many she’ll face. But she won’t face them alone.
“Do not underestimate librarians.” Words to live by, as said by Lannagaros, the Arkon of the Dragon Empire, in Cast in Wisdom. He’s talking about the importance of returning a book, a very particular book, to the Library of the Academia, an Academia that has been lost in the borderlands between the fiefs of Elantra for a very long time. A time measured in centuries if not millennia. A time when Elantra was whole, Ravellon had not yet fallen, and Lannagaros was a young student at the Academia in a time before the wars between the Dragons and the Barrani devastated both of their peoples and the world on which they lived.
A time that has lived forever in his heart. A time that is so far back in the distant past that Kaylin Nera cannot imagine such a thing ever existed. To her brief, mortal eyes, Lannagaros has always been ancient beyond reckoning, and he has always been the Arkon.
We see this world through Kaylin’s eyes. She is human and mortal and fragile in a world that is dominated by the immortal Dragons who rule Elantra and the equally immortal Barrani whose political infighting often threatens to tear the world they all inhabit down to its foundations.
Elantra is a world with epic fantasy proportions, but its stories are often on an urban fantasy scale. Kaylin is a ground Hawk, the equivalent of a police officer who serves the Halls of Law, which are more or less what their name implies. Kaylin’s job is to help keep the peace – even as her extracurricular activities threaten to break it.
Due to incidents that have happened to or around Kaylin in her past, she is mixed up in both the Dragon and Barrani Courts, and her actions often shake the world – to the surprise of nearly everyone around her – especially herself.
Kaylin’s adventures began in the novella Cast in Moonlight almost 20 years ago, with Cast in Shadow the first full-length novel in the series. This is definitely a series where you need to start in the beginning to get a grasp on this world, Kaylin herself, and the found family that has gathered around her – sometimes without any of her intention at all. And we discover ourselves caring about these people because she does. And because we care about her.
Kaylin is a chaos magnet – she is a person to whom things happen – whether she wishes it or not.
The story of Cast in Wisdom is absolutely a case where Kaylin is given an assignment – an official one even – that seems relatively simple and unambiguous on the surface but as is usual turns out to be anything but. And as so often happens to Kaylin, those complexities uncover plots and counterplots that are intended to change this world in a way that will likely lead to destruction.
But no plot seems to survive contact with Kaylin Nera – not even her own.
Escape Rating A: I love this series for Kaylin, her snarky voice, and the even snarkier characters she has gathered around her. I fell for it because the opening books were definitely in the urban fantasy vein, even if the world in which they were set felt more like epic fantasy. As the series has continued, Kaylin’s initially small world has gotten bigger and wider, and events have often taken her out of her city.
You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t really take the city out of the girl. Cast in Wisdom is a story that explores a tiny and obscure portion of Elantra and gives that exploration huge implications without ever leaving the city borders.
Well, not exactly leaving, but that’s part of the story.
I’ll admit that I especially fell for this one because the entire thing is set in a school that has been lost in time – a school that considers its heart and soul to be its library. And that, of course, had me from the beginning.
But it’s also a story about fighting for what you believe in, and it’s a story that breathes life by dragon fire into the idea that it’s never too late to be what you were meant to be. So as much as the series is absolutely Kaylin’s journey, Cast in Wisdom is Lannagaros’ journey. Kaylin is barely two decades old, while Lannagaros has lived for not just centuries but actually millennia. His whole life has been dedicated to preserving the past and learning from it. All he wanted was to be an academic, but he left his studies to serve in a war that is long past. By the time it was over, the Academia he loved was lost to the shadows between the fiefs.
When it is found again, broken and barely functioning as a ghostly shadow of the place he once loved, he is forced to rethink his entire life in order to defend the place where his heart has always belonged – even when he believed it no longer existed.
As the fight for the heart and soul of a school and a library, Cast in Wisdom is a terrific adventure. As a story about it never being too late to grasp the dream of your heart, it is marvelous. As the latest in a continuing saga, it is a wonderful addition to the series.
And now that I have left Elantra for the nonce, I am in withdrawal until the next book in the series, whenever it appears.