Queenslayer

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Spellslinger | Shadowblack | Charmcaster | Soulbinder

Queenslayer was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2019. It is the fifth instalment of the Spellslinger series and tells the story of the continuing adventures of Kellen Argos and his business partner, Reichis the Squirrel Cat. The novel follows on shortly after Spellslinger (2017), Shadowblack (2017), Charmcaster (2018) and Soulbinder (2018) left off, so you really need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

After unwittingly declaring treason against Darome, Kellen finds himself imprisoned and awaiting certain execution. However, as he is brought before the eleven-year-old Queen, he finds that fate has something else in store for him. Ginevra has supposedly inherited the souls of a thousand years of rulers, yet seems to be charmed by Kellen’s card playing. She names Kellen her new Tutor of Cards – a position that puts him above the law. Kellen is slow to realise that this places him in even more danger.

When Ginevra reaches the age of thirteen, she gains the full power of the throne. Sadly, there are some nobles in her court that do not wish for that to happen. Kellen soon realises that there is a delicacy to the proceedings within court. He is not in the Outlands anymore and instead is in a world where words have power and those who speak too loudly often meet with unfortunate accidents.

As Kellen is sent away to deal with a seemingly insignificant crime in a border town, he comes to realise just what a precarious position the queen is in. There are some who think that an eleven-year-old should not hold the throne and are willing to overthrow the entire city if it means ousting her from her position. Yet, as Kellen is approached once again by Shalla with a mission, he soon realises that the one to destroy Ginevra might well be him…

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Soulbinder

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Spellslinger | Shadowblack | Charmcaster

Soulbinder was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2018. It tells the continuing story of Kellen, a young outlaw who travels across the desert and avoids assassins sent by his father, all the while hunting for a cure for his deadly affliction. The novel forms the fourth part of the Spellslinger series and follows on directly after Spellslinger (2017), Shadowblack (2017) and Charmcaster (2018). Because of this, I would really recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Kellen and Reichis have not had the best of times since they parted company with Ferius. Their hunt for the legendary Ebony Abbey – a place that supposedly holds the secret to curing the shadowblack – has left them stranded in the middle of nowhere with no food, water or hope of rescue. To make matters worse, they have learned that a warband of seventy-seven Jan’Tep mages have been charged with hunting them down; a band that already claims to have killed Ferius.

However, Kellen’s hunt has not been in vain. As he waits for death, the monks of the Ebony Abbey find him. Leaving Reichis to die in the desert, they kidnap Kellen and whisk him away to their remote sanctuary on the distant continent of Obscaria. It is here that he soon learns the truth about the monks. They do not have a cure for the shadowblack but instead have embraced it, learning to use the unique powers that it gives them.

Although the inhabitants of the Ebony Abbey wish to live a secret life at peace, Kellen knows that this cannot last. Even if the monks manage not to succumb to the demonic influence of the shadowblack, he knows that their days are numbered. Ke’heops will inevitably find them and wipe them out in order to curry favour with his people. The only question is if Kellen can escape – and if he can convince the monks to flee with him – before the Jan’Tep army arrives at their gates…

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Charmcaster

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Spellslinger | Shadowblack

Charmcaster was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2018. It is the third instalment of the Spellslinger series and follows on directly where the previous two – Spellslinger (2017) and Shadowblack (2017) – left off, so you really do need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them. The story follows the continuing adventures of Kellen, an exiled spellslinger, as he avoids bounty hunters and seeks to protect the innocent people who have been unknowingly targeted by the Jan’Tep.

As Kellen, Ferius and Reichis cross the desert, they come across an unfortunate Jan’Tep bounty hunter who has been targeted by a band of Berabesq devouts. Although Kellen is keen to let them suffer, Ferius’s Argosi ways prevent her from standing idly by and she rushes to the rescue. Kellen is shocked to discover that the victim is not a hunter at all, but is his former crush, Nephenia, who has also been left disfigured and exiled by the Jan’Tep. However, their reunion is cut short. Ferius is badly injured and in desperate need of medical attention.

As Ferius recovers, she is approached by a pair of Argosi who have a discordance for her, bearing the image of a mechanical bird. This card leads her to Gitabria – a technologically advanced city of research and innovation, where they witness the unveiling of the bird. However, even at a glance, the party know that something is seriously wrong. The bird is not simply a machine – it seems to have a consciousness of its own.

As all nations begin bidding on the bird, Kellen realises the true danger of the creation. While the bird is innocent in itself, if others knew how to build it they could apply the principles to larger and more powerful machines. It’s not long before the Jan’Tep find Kellen and offer him a proposition. Either he destroys the bird and its engineer, or they will allow his innocent friends to suffer.

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Shadowblack

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Spellslinger. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Shadowblack was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2017. It is the second part of the Spellslinger series and is preceded by Spellslinger (2017). The third instalment – Charmcaster – is expected to be released in May 2018. As Shadowblack carries on shortly after its prequel left off, I would advise reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Kellen is finding it hard to adapt to life as an outlaw. Reichis’s attempted heists just seem to get him beaten up and Ferius hasn’t even tried to teach him the ways of the Argosi. Despite everything that his family did to him, he still finds that he longs to return to his people but even that is impossible. The Jan’Tep have placed a death warrant on his head and it’s unlikely that they will lift it unless he can find a cure for his shadowblack.

Things take an unexpected turn when Kellen meets another Argosi on the road. The newcomer calls herself the Path of Thorns and Roses and has some kind of history with Ferius. She is also in the process of escorting Seneira – a blindfolded girl who is not blind – back to her father at the Academy of Teleidos.

The mission seems simple enough, but unexpected dangers lie in wait in the desert city. The shadowblack is spreading and it’s not just magic users that are in danger. As Kellen and his friends search for the source of the outbreak, he meets Dexan Videris – a spellslinger who claims that he has a way of curing the disease. Kellen could well have found his ticket back into Jan’Tep society, but in making a deal with Dexan he could damage his friendship with Ferius beyond repair. Is the spellslinger telling the truth, or is he somehow connected to the spread of the shadowblack?

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Spellslinger

Spellslinger was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2017. It is a fantasy novel that focuses on a young member of a magical family who must come to terms with the fact that his powers are fading. The story forms the first part of the Spellslinger series and is followed by Shadowblack (2017).

Kellen is days away from his sixteenth birthday and has just bested one of his classmates in a mage duel – the first of four trials that he must face to earn his mage name and a place in Jan’Tep society. There is only one problem. He cheated. Kellen has been aware for a long time that his magic is fading and that is not good. Only the magical can join the upper echelons of society. The powerless are destined to become Sha’Tep and spend their lives in servitude.

As Kellen begins to consider taking drastic measures to trigger his powers, he also meets an Argosi wander named Ferius Parfax and his destiny begins to shift. Ferius represents a world he has never known – one outside of the city walls where the societies that don’t rely on magic dwell – and, through the way that the Jan’Tep treat Ferius, Kellen begins to see that there is something desperately wrong with his society.

But as Kellen learns more about the history of the Jan’Tep, he begins to uncover a darkness that his people have been trying to bury for centuries. Just what lengths did his ancestors have to go to in order to destroy the demons that once stalked their lands? And what will the council do when a teenage boy discovers the truth?

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