So if Cast in Courtlight is the Barrani book, then Cast in Secret is the Tha’alani book. Of the various species, the Tha’alani are the most physically similar to humans, save, of course, their aphorae, the antennae they use to read a person’s mind. I once read a book that commented on how every sentient species hates a mindreader. We’re taught to value our privacy and our serets, and the thought of someone easily reaching into our heads and pulling out our deepest, most concealed thoughts? It’s terrifying.
So you can see why the Tha’alani have their own Quarter in the city of Elantra, and why it has walls. Of course, what you might not realize is that the wall serves multiple purposes, for those without and within. As much as the outsiders don’t care for the Tha’alani, the Tha’alani themselves feel the same in reverse, though for different reasons. They consider us, the deaf, to be insane.
Tha’alani aren’t perfect, like any mortals. They don’t always agree or see things the same way. But because they can be in mental contact with one another whenever they choose, there is a great deal of openness in their culture. They don’t understand the concept of lying. They don’t always speak very well because those who don’t regularly deal with the deaf don’t need to. The things we conceal and hold private, such as sex, are simply affirmations of love and joy in the moment, something perfectly natural.
They’re not a race of innocents, but they don’t need to build all the defenses we know.
Oh, I should also mention that water is a major theme of this book. I wouldn’t say that either of the previous books had as strong an elemental theme as Cast in Secret, though fire was a presence in Cast in Courtlight.
There’s really not much else to say about this book. It’s good, it focuses on the Tha’alani and with Kaylin’s attitude towards them. (She’s never been especially fond of having her mind forcibly read, and she first met a Tha’alani when she was thirteen, back in Cast in Moonlight.) But if the unknown is always feared, then knowledge can help mitigate fear, or even abolish it entirely. A lesson that we see in books over and over again, and perhaps we need a reminder of in the real world.