BOOKS

Shadowcaster

560p. (Shattered Realms: Bk. 2). HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Apr. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062380975.
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Gr 8 Up—This volume continues the vast and expansive story of the Seven Realms and again jumps forward in time to a land of young warrior orphans who have resumed the war of their dead parents. In this sequel to Flamecaster, Chima brilliantly brings to life Alyssa ana'Raisa, who is the teenage heir to the Gray Wolf Throne, and young Capt. Halston Matelon of King Gerard's army. Their fates are unfairly tangled in the grudge match between King Gerard and the witch Queen of the Fells, and their connection blossoms from the deep understanding of fighting a war that no longer makes sense. Both characters have parents who are alive, setting them apart from most of the rest of the child warriors of the Seven Realms, and have been fighting a war for just about half their lives. Both lead armies, and both have the weight of their sides' desire to win squarely on their young, increasingly unwilling shoulders. With betrayal, love, loss, and a spectacular twist, this well-crafted series installment can be read as a stand-alone, as it focuses on a new cast of young, well-developed characters, the next generation of the Seven Realms. Familiar characters make appearances, drawing the thread through the Realms without being heavy-handed.
VERDICT A solid, engaging fantasy that will resonate with new readers of Chima's work and fans of her previous titles.

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