Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

Blog

Chronicles of Elantra

Sorry about the lack of posting; busy weekend, lots going on, some of which I expect I will tell you all about fairly soon.

Meanwhile! Here’s a post by Liz Bourke at tor.com: Revisiting Michelle Sagara’s Chronicles of Elantra

This caught my eye because

a) some of you have recommended this series;

b) I like some of Michelle Sagara West’s other work;

c) I fear I could not quite get into the first book of the Elantra series, but I’m willing to try again or even jump ahead and try a book later in the series.

so I’m interested in what Liz has to say about this series. I suppose she must have read the whole thing because why else would she be doing a post like this?

She begins this way:

Those fifteen books … are a satisfying combination of contemporary-feeling secondary world city-based fantasy, and go-big-or-go-home epic. Every single volume has a relatively self-contained arc (at least one major problem, and major frequently means fate-of-the-world, is solved in every one) but the series as a whole has continuing arcs of growth and change for its cast of characters, and especially for its protagonist, Kaylin Neya.

See, that’s the kind of thing that makes me feel like I really ought to give this series another try.

As the series has advanced, Kaylin has acquired a wider circle of friends and allies, and in part, these are what give the books fresh interest and appeal with every new volume. More people bring with them more problems and concerns and their own ways of seeing the world—and Elantra, for all that it’s a single city, is a wide weird world indeed. … The Chronicles of Elantra are enjoyable, entertaining, engaging fantasy novels that always leave me feeling satisfied—and rather reassured, despite occasional horrible things happening, because somehow, it all comes mostly right in the end.

I know some of you like this series — what do you all think of jumping ahead? If you have a favorite book in the series, what is is?

Please Feel Free to Share:

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

7 Comments Chronicles of Elantra

  1. Elaine T.

    No one else has opined? Ok… I’m getting less interested, but still enjoy them. … sigh… maybe book 3, which introduces the Thalani, the mind readers. And the Archon, whom I always enjoy seeing. Cast in Secret. The fourth book, Fury has been haunting me. and it does stand alone more than the rest – it deals with Leontines who have not been prominent in the rest. It also plays into the midwife angle of the protagnist’s life.

  2. Kootch

    I enjoyed the whole series mostly because the character of Kaylin Neya is so engaging and her relationships with the supporting characters fill the narrative with humour and angst even as they try to prevent the end of the world (this week). The earlier books run into each other in my memory but I always anticipate the next book, with Kaylin’s smart mouth seemingly about to cause the dragons to reduce her to a smouldering pile of ash; or her Leontine sergeant clawing furrows into his desk when annoyed. I just loved the last book, Cast in Wisdom. Lord Nightshade goes back to school! I’ve sometimes read an author in the middle of a series but usually if I liked the story, I would go back to the first book. Rachel, perhaps “Cast in Moonlight” is the better starting point. It’s a novella so you’re quickly done with it but I found that it grabbed my attention and hooked me into the little lost girl that became Private Kaylin Neya.

  3. Hanneke

    I agree starting with the prequel novella, Cast in Moonlight, would be a good idea. It gives a good entry into the viewpoint and voice of the central protagonist of the whole series, and the basic feel of the world – if you don’t like reading her, don’t waste time on trying the longer books.

    I enjoy reading Michelle Sagara West’s books, for the voice and the emotional payoff which somehow always rings true to me.
    I read and liked the series, but find it hard to recommend them because there are some very dark things in the backstory of some of the protagonists, including child murder, and in some of the present villains as well (especially the rogue Arcanists they keep having trouble with).

    Cast in Silence (no.5) is one I’m not inclined to reread, as that is the book where the darkest parts of Kaylin’s backstory are front and center in the story of how she came into contact with Tara.
    Each book tends to add an important new brick to the worldbuilding, so starting with one at the end of the series might be hard for someone not used to dealing with the unknown complexities of F/SF settings.
    But the ‘adventure’story arc of each book stands alone: a problem is introduced at the beginning, and resolved by the end of the book (except for the duology set in the Western Marches), so in that story sense you can start anywhere you like.

    Number 2, Cast in Courtlight, introducing the Barrani court, might be a good starting point.
    Number 1 (Cast in Shaow) just introduces Kaylin, her city, her marks, her place in the Hawks, and re-introduces her to Severn. That’s easy enough to step over if you start at 2; the worldbuilding backstory has not yet gotten too complex and esoteric in places to start.
    Cast in Fury (no.4) introduces the Tha’alani, and some ancient history relevant to Kaylin’s marks. Also a good place to start.

    The Western Marches duology (8 Cast in Peril, 9 Cast in Sorrow) is the place where a lot of the esotericness in the worldbuilding comes in. I found them the hardest to follow, and though they set up new secondary characters and some worldbuilding aspects that continue to be important in the later books (some of the new characters are triggers or drivers of the new developments, as well as participants in the story) I definitely wouldn’t recommend starting there, and probably won’t reread them unless I feel I’ve missed something important.

    If you tolerate/enjoy jumping into a complex fantasy world with a larger cast of secondary characters, without getting all unusual aspects explained when you first encounter them, you could also start with one of the later books of the series. Maybe Cast in honour (11): Kaylin acquires a home, though there’s some esoteric worldbuilding going on as well as the usual “save the world / save some people” adventure. Cast in Flight (12) introduces Aerian politics into the mix.
    Personally, I’d start with the earlier books.

  4. Rachel

    Thanks, Hanneke — I don’t mind a complex and confusing world, but I’m thinking since the first book wasn’t really working for me, maybe I will step past several and try the fourth book, since two of you mentioned it.

    I’m also thinking here that the Kate Daniels series didn’t REALLY take off till the third book, imo, so who knows, maybe stepping well forward might suit me.

  5. Hanneke

    If you like book 4, I’d go back to book 2 after that, as it contains the seeds of the entire overarching struggle for the whole series arc, in the darkness beneath the Halls. Also, the Barrani are important in a lot of the later books, as are the Keeper and the elements introduced in book 3.
    I’d not advise going straight on to book 5.

Leave A Comment