When I said Cast in Silence wasn’t quite “strange” by my standards for Elantra, what I failed to mention is that Cast in Chaos is. And since this is the next book in the series, and we’ve already established how smoothly each volume flows into the next, this may be a waste of time to bother to differentiate when things get strange.
Any time that a character accidentally falls out of the world, though, is strange.
No, I’m not going to explain the context of that. I’ve done fairly well, I think, of avoiding spoilers though it is getting increasingly difficult as the series progresses. This is to be expected, given that any series of this type will continue to build off of the previous entries. The other variant of a series is something more like Valdemar or Alliance-Union wherein we have a large world – and timeline – and the stories are broken down into discrete parts of a limited number of books. It’s a lot easier to talk about a trilogy without spoilers than something with nine or more books.
Cast in Chaos introduces a new species. I don’t remember offhand what they call themselves – it wasn’t mentioned in this book and I seem to recall the term doesn’t come up nearly as often as the names of the other species. But for some reason when I reflected on this addition to the world, it got me counting.
Numbers are significant in books. The last time I counted something was when I read Gatefather by Orson Scott Card, counted up the main characters and came up with thirteen: one Jesus archetype and twelve disciples, including a Judas. Needless to say, I was less than pleased. However, that doesn’t meant that I should ignore numbers when they appear.
I mentioned that there are six fiefs surrounding the heart, which is commonly referred to as the seventh fief, though no one knows for certain what is there, save for Shadow. But the strangers, as they’re called throughout this particular book (later to be known as the Norannir), become a seventh species when added to the humans, Tha’alani, Aerians, Leontines, Barrani, and Dragons already extant in Elantra.
There are also, as of Cast in Ruin, seven Dragons. This entry also happens to be the seventh book in the series, but that may not be quite as intentional as all the other sevens going on. From the first book (novel, not novella) we’ve been slowly introduced to the various members of the Dragon Court. We know Tiamaris and Sanabalis best, but we’ve also gotten to know the Arkon as well. Diarmat has been a side character up until recently, and Emmerian is still something of a cipher. The Emperor is, well, let’s just say that Kaylin’s not going to meet him until she can do so without his eating her for disrespect. That would be where Diarmat comes into play – he’s the one with whom she has etiquette lessons.
If the main plot of each book has gotten successively stranger, each volume has also revealed more information about the universe and how it functions, as well as Kaylin’s role in it. She is, after all, the Chosen, as denoted by the marks (ancient and true words) that cover most of her body like tattoos. She can use their power, choosing mostly to heal though she is limited more by her understanding of them than anything else. Well, understanding and volition. Kaylin does not have any interest in ruling or power for its own sake. This makes her distinctly different from many of the other characters in the series, though in most of those cases it’s a species thing. Immortals tend to be far more concerned with power than mortals.
Throughout the series, I wouldn’t say that Kaylin’s power has grown. But she as a character has grown, and with that her understanding of her own power has increased. She’s still reluctant to use it outside of healing, but she will do what is necessary for the Empire, for her friends, for those she protects and, lastly, for herself. And I mean that what she does for herself is mostly to stay alive, because Kaylin is an amazingly unselfish person. I admire her, because I’m not certain I could give as much of my time and money and effort as she does.