Sagara, Michelle -- Cast in Peril (Elantra 8)

Kaylin gets out of the city! Due to political machinations (see previous book), she is required to attend a tedious Barrani ceremony way off in the West March. When I say "tedious", I am applying massive sarcasm. We already know (see earlier books) that Barrani ceremonies involve (a) Barrani plotting to kill each other (b) possible extinction-level disasters. This remains true.

In this volume, we are reminded that the Barrani are really not human. Barrani architecture is also not human, but it is opinionated. And I appreciated the tension between Teela, Kaylin's drinking buddy since book one, and Teela, the immortal Barrani Lord who has been watching the mortal world for centuries.

Note that this book, unlike the previous ones, is not a standalone. It seems to be part-one-of-two. (The series still has episodic pacing, but this begins a two-parter.) So when you start to run out of pages and the ceremony hasn't started yet, don't be surprised.

Maybe the author has said this explicitly somewhere, but if not, I'll infer it: Kaylin Neya is an attempt to build every single Mary Sue trope into a character, but as narrative strengths, not indulgences. Let us list: she has unique healing magic; she has two hot guys lurking after her (one human, one immortal); she is explicitly The Chosen One. In the first few books she is acclaimed a Lord of the High Court, an elementalist mage, and gains friends, allies, and roommates from every powerful faction in the Empire. In this book, to nearly round out the list, she gains a magic fire lizard. Okay? Point made.

No, point taken: this is, like every other element in Kaylin's plot arc, a hazard (initially); a responsibility (ultimately); and sometimes a benefit (occasionally, never reliably). All of these fantastic things are indeed fantastic, but the stories aren't about how fantastic they are; the stories are about how hard they are.

(The one missing element is violet or silver eyes. Most of the non-human races in Elantra have awesome color-changing eyes already, though, which makes it hard to work in for Kaylin. Maybe there will be some further magical disaster which mucks up her eye color. If so, it will hurt like hell and then turn out to mortally insult someone dangerous.)

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