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book cover Flamecaster has a prince as the main character, but was named after a dragon that appears at the end of the book. Shadowcaster has a princess as the main character, but is named after a "magemarked" bard who in a random paragraph ponders what his superhero name should be. It felt to me as if Cinda William Chima intended to follow a certain pattern in her books, but then kind of abandoned it halfway. As the Shattered Realms series develops, each book adds more characters and then makes them interact with existing ones, which shatters (ahem!) any static model or recipe. There are commonalities, though.

All heroes are young, beautiful, intelligent, competent and moral. All villains are mean, narrowminded, corrupt, cruel, despicable and usually ugly. Occasionally some "gray" character appears, only to be developed later as a misunderstood hero. If it weren't for this little detail, I think the books in this series would have been really captivating. Instead... they are adorable, like a children's book that you read to see how Harry Potter and his merry gang defeat the meany. Only in comparison Harry Potter is way darker and gripping than this. And it is too bad, because I like the writing and the world building.

Shadowcaster continues the story from a moment before Flamecaster ended, from the perspective of other characters. If the first level boss was defeated in the first book, this one foreshadows (ahem!) the appearance of a more terrifying villain. It makes little sense to start with this book without having read the series from the beginning and it ends with even less closure than the first book.

Again, it is very easy to read, I've read it in a few hours, nicely split into minuscule chapters so you can read one whenever you take the shortest of breaks. I will read the entire series, I believe, yet only three books have been written so far and at least another is contracted.


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