I mean, at this point everyone knows how much I adore the Spellslinger series and Queenslayer is no different. As the series draws to a close, not this one, but the next, I find myself getting more and more emotional.
Kellen Argos is an outlaw spellslinger with a bad reputation, a long list of enemies, and zero luck. When he accidently smears blood on the Daroman flag, he’s dragged before the queen to be executed for his act of treason.
Face-to-face with the young monarch, Kellen is offered a chance to save himself. If he can defeat the queen at a game of cards, he’ll walk free…if not, his life is forfeit. But what begins as a game reveals a conspiracy against the queen’s life. And now, Kellen is not only playing for his own freedom, but also for the future of an empire.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I feel like Queenslayer gave me the most Greatcoats vibe. Talk about Kellen being faced with the task of trying to figure out how to help this eleven year old monarch in the face of corruption, against some terrifying odds. It has all the makings of a fabulous book about Kellen. But what really pushed it over the top for me in Queenslayer is that Kellen has really figure out how he feels about his shadow black.
Themes of Evil
We’ve been working up to this conflict for a while as Kellen scrambles to find a cure for his shadow black. As all his relationships seem to hang on the crux of how they feel, how they make Kellen feel, about his shadow black. Kellen feels broken, damaged, and evil – a disaster waiting to happen – but Queenslayer makes Kellen question if this is true. Is he really what people have been saying, what his family and the Jan’Tep think of him?
Do we let ourselves become a monster because that’s how we are treated? When we have our hand, can we make the most of the cards we are dealt? Despite all the odds, the dangerous stakes, and the fate of the world on the table? The cards tell a story, reflect a predicament, a trap in the waiting, or an unspoken possibility, and it’s in our power to realize their stakes. We don’t have to be good or evil, we can simply just do good.
Queenslayer had everything I’ve come to expect from a de Castell book – sparkling wit, hilarious banter, and characters that will make your heart twinge – but it also seems to ask us if we have the strength to see our own capacity for goodness.