Review: Charmcaster by Sebastien de Castell



Author: Sebastien de Castell
Series: Spellslinger #3
Pages: 400


‘I was getting almost as good at running away from enemies as I was at making them in the first place. Turns out, I wasn’t running nearly fast enough.’

Kellen has begun to master his spellslinging and the Argosi tricks for staying alive, and he and Reichis have found a career that suits them both: taking down mercenary mages who make people’s lives miserable. But Ferius is concerned that Kellen is courting disaster…

I could bet that every reader has a happy fictional place where they can get away and always feel comfortable. The kind of place that feels right and welcoming, no matter what. I myself have several of them, and I can honestly say that this saga has become one of them. It is SO easy to return to the embrace of that twisted world of our favourite spellslinger that I am going to miss it badly once I finish with it. Yeah, I know I would still have the chance of reading them again; but I have never in my life reread a story. I prefer to invest that time discovering new settings. But let’s not think about the future!

Kellen is still on the run, but this time he and his friends have at least a clear mission: get rid of the obsidian worms that some evil mages have implanted in kids to spy their nations. The last one of those worms is in the peaceful and welcoming country of Gitabria, whose inventions are famous all over the world. Too bad one of them is about to become a discordances and it will be Kellen’s mission to avoid a disaster that could end in a war. Heavy is the burden the poor kid has to endure, but sadly he is pretty used to it. Thankfully, he will be assisted by new and old friends. Is this the last straw that will break Kellen’s soul or will he keep going with his ethics intact? Only one way to know…

No rest for the wicked or for anyone reading this book. Its fast pace will keep you engaged from the first page to the last one. I love that the author has divided the story into such short chapters, because it is a huge help to make it much easier to read. It is the perfect strategy to introduce so many plot lines and side quests, otherwise the reader could easily get lost among all the calamities that poor Kellen has to face: crazy worms, crazy priests, crazy inventors, crazy mages, crazy Argosi, crazy family… It is a seven course meal without counting the dessert. A feast that will leave you utterly sated, but salivating for the next one. And we are not talking about fast food or a greasy meal here. It is a simple menu, but well-thought and elaborated with gusto. It has as many sweet flavours, as spicy or sour ones. That is what I call a balanced diet.

If I may be totally honest I have to point out what I have missed in this book: more humour. There is still a lot of funny remarks and causticity, but in the other books was much more prominent. In this story, the most memorable moments are the ones when Kellen fights against the Red Mage. That mix between impending doom and cockiness is what makes a great character even greater. The spellslinger is becoming the paragon of hope rather quickly. It doesn’t matter how many curveballs life throws at him, Kellen is able to deal with them as best as he can without forgetting the safety of the people that sorround him. This story has twisted his life even more, as if the cruelty he has already endured wasn’t enough. If you are an empathetic reader, there are some tough moments that will tigthten your throat.

Kellen is awesome and all that, but the rest of the cast are not lightweights, either. We get to know a little bit more about Ferius and her past. And the relationship between Reichis and Kellen gets a bit more friendly, even though the squirrel-cat will deny it promising swift death to all who hints at it. A bit disappointing has been the charmcaster herself. The character is nice, but being the one that gives this book its title I was expecting much more. Her importance in almost every aspect of the story is quite circunstancial. I hope for more development in future books.

A really special mention deserves the Red Mage that stars in the most vivid nightmares of Kellen. His identity is pretty obvious, but that doens’t cut downs the enjoyment I had whenever this character was around. It was a blast to read the duels between both of them, taking into account the vast difference in power. Fingers crossed for more of that in the next books!


2020 – Book Gallery


It’s time to gather the nets and see if I have caught any new word in English. This is the one that I will put on ice to keep it fresh:

inveterate: habitual; constant

Kellen calls himself inveterate liar. He is being too hard on himself. It is just another tool he has against a world that is keen on stabbing him the first chance it gets.

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