Fantasy novels have similar themes; realms at war, magic, dragons, and a group of heroes who will defy the odds to win the day. Shattered Realms by Cinda Williams Chima has all the fun of these elements with some twists thrown in to engage the reader and keep you turning the pages until the very end.
The Shattered Realms series is actually the follow on of the Seven Realms series. But I am writing about this one first because that was the way I was introduced to the books. When I read Flamecaster I did not know the backstory of some people. But you do not have to read the first set to understand and enjoy them. Don’t get me wrong, the first set is worth reading, but all it does is add context to some of the characters who are minor players this time around.
There are four books in this series; the first three focus on groups of characters with the other key players thrown in for flavor. The fourth book tracks all the players and brings the series to its conclusion. The reading order is Flamecaster, Shadowcaster, Stormcaster, and Deathcaster.
The following overview is intentionally vague so that I do not spoil any of the fun for anyone who wants to read the series.
Young Adrian is witness to a murder, he was supposed to die as well but he escapes. Was the murder politically motivated? Will hanging around bring danger to his mom, the Queen of Fells, and his family? Adrian thinks so and goes into hiding at a school for healers. But the school cannot protect Adrian forever, eventually he goes into the world to seek his revenge for the murder he witnessed and along the way meets people who will be instrumental in his quest. One of those allies is Jenna, a young woman with a mysterious past that even she is not fully aware of.
In the meantime, the Fells and Arden are in a constant war that has been going on for almost 20 years. As if this is not enough a new threat is looming; The Empress from a faraway land has now turned her attention to The Seven Realms. With a choice of bad guys, we are going to have to discover who is the bigger threat. Can threat of the Empress make the Seven Realms stop fighting each other long enough to stop the outsider? Join the fun and read about the adventures of Adrian and Jenna.
Lyss, sister of Adrian and Princess Heir of the Fells, was not born to be the heir to the throne. Lyss is a solider at heart not a politician. If only her older sister had not become a casualty of war, she would not feel forced to play the role of heir. But becoming Queen is a problem for another day. First, she must find a way to stop this endless war.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the battle is Hal. He has been raised to hate all things to do with the Fells. They are witches and wizards up there in the mysterious north. Caught behind enemy lines, Hal begins to realize that all the stories might not be the full truth. He knows his King is cruel and wields power in abusive ways. Are the people in the north really as bad as he was raised to think? Meeting the Gray Wolf will challenge Hal’s long held beliefs.
The threat of the Empress still looms. She is seeking three very special mages and will stop at nothing to have them. The Empress promises the cruel King of Arden victory over the north if he will find and deliver the mages.
In Stormcaster we meet Evan, a powerful weather mage. He knows the danger the Empress poses with her growing army of bloodsworn. Evan must warn the Gray Wolf Queen and if they do not heed him the Seven Realms will fall.
Some of this book tells a story in flashback. Why would Evan care about the Seven Realms, it is not his home. As it turns out his dear childhood friend, Destin, is the spymaster for Arden. We will learn how Evan and Destin meet and become friends before we flash back to the current troubles and threat of the Empress. Evan must convince both sides that they should join together to face a common enemy.
In this book the story lines of the first two books start to merge and weave together. By this time in the series you know who the 3 mages are and have a hint as to why the Empress wants them. She has one in her control, she must not get the rest.
In the fourth and final book all stories and characters are explored. We will follow their individual adventures. But at some point, they will merge so the series can reach its conclusion. Hard choices must be made, rescues attempted, unexpected allies are found, and mysteries abound.
In my opinion it was a bit much at the beginning of the book to keep up with all the story lines but this is because I was reading as the books were published. The year in between made me forget some of the plot points. When the story got going it was just as engaging as the other books and I was quickly captivated by the adventures of my fictional friends.
Now that the whole series is published, if you have not read any of the books yet it will be an exciting adventure from beginning to end with no time lag between books. You might not experience the initial confusion I had keeping track of multiple story lines. This is a good fantasy series with lots of people to root for. I like that on each side of war in the Seven Realms there are good and bad people. Like me you may have a side you want to win more than the other but still find yourself cheering for specific people on either side.
Can the people of the Realms band together against a common enemy? Find out in The Shattered Realms Series. If you enjoyed this post, please like it. If you want to discuss the stories please feel free to comment.