I struggle to write a coherent review of Spellslinger by Sebastian de Castell. The Greatcoats series utterly destroyed my heart and I felt just recovered enough to take this series on. I was wrong. You scoundrel, you’ve destroyed me again.
There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.
Magic is a con game.
Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage’s duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi – a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She’s difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen’s only hope…
The world of Spellslinger draws you in from page one. There’s something so fascinating, so twisted about it that makes it so good. A society where you have to take tests to see if you have magic because if you don’t you are relegated to a servant position? Even within your own family? The premise is entirely unique and entirely spell binding. But it also begs the question, what does family mean? For me, this is an entirely crucial question in my own life. Is family our blood, or the ones we create, the ones we find? Just even the concept of a world revolving around having magic, being threatened to be thrown out of your family, and being faced with the reality you may not have any? Stake to heart.
Kellen is just this cinnamon roll of a character. He’s intelligent, entirely too clever, and incredibly determined. So in essence, he’s the character I wish I could be – except I’m not nearly clever enough. At the same time, this system just breeds violence and danger. It’s about viewing people less because of where they come from, of reacting in fear, or losing a little piece of humanity. So can Kellen fight against that? Can he learn to be better than everyone else, to transcend the person he thought he would be?
Spellsligner is hilarious, but at the same time it’s emotional. Kellen is just trying so hard to succeed, to appease people, to occupy the place in society he thinks he wants. But here Ferius comes in and says, ‘what if what is out there was more than you ever thought?’
This book has all the elements that wreck my heart. There’s a whole band of misfits, a swoony card wielding rascal, a goofy and clever protagonist, and comic relief – in the form of an angry squirrel. Could I ask for anything more? (Also there was this one moment that revolves around the squirrels that made me cry on the train – yep. That was me). I’m hooked – just like I knew I would be. Check out Spellslinger on Goodreads.
Fight a dragon: Reichs
Character of my heart: Ferius
Sleepover with: Kellen
Pine over: Shalla