I haven’t read a good book in a while.
I think it’s mainly because I’ve been doing too much reading–if there is such a thing. I signed up for Kindle Unlimited a few months ago and I love that I get to read books, all for a certain number of dollars per month. But finding good books to read on Kindle Unlimited is hard and I haven’t found other books that have caught my interest.
The most recent book I’ve finished is called Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell.
There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.
Magic is a con game.
Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage’s duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi – a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She’s difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen’s only hope…
The book tackles a number of different questions–family, self-worth and pride. There’s also a “squirrel cat” named Reichis (basically a vicious racoon that the Jan’Tep believe is an actual demon) that is probably one of best parts of the novel.
“What the hells are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m slapping you. I’ve seen humans do this when one goes unconscious. Is it helping?” He pulled his paw back again. “Should I used my claws?”
Apart from Reichis brilliance, Kellen struggles a lot to make his family–mainly his father–proud. The Jan’Tep place everyone with powers on a pedestal and anyone without any powers is treated like dirt and without any respect. Even family is treated this way. One of the reasons I really liked this book is because of the questions that Kellen struggles to answer about himself. He feels rejected because he feels like a failure. And he feels like a failure because his society is telling him that success comes in a certain way.
Personally, I struggle a lot with this. I often feel like a failure because it doesn’t feel like I’m going anywhere, even though I’m 26. I certainly feel like a failure and a reject when I get job rejection after job rejection. I spent thousands and thousands of dollars on two different degrees and I’m still working a minimum wage job.
At one point Kellen reflects on hope.
There’s this hope you have, deep down, that when you most need it–in that instant where everything suddenly matters because now it’s life and death–you’ll be able to overcome whatever it is that’s held you back your whole life and find your true strength. That was how it worked in all the old stores: the young Jan’Tep mage, face to face with the demons who have been tormenting his village, finally casts the great spell of banishment that had eluded him for so long.
“Are you doing anything?” Reichis asked. “Because it just looks like you’re constipated.”
Sometimes you wish you were the hero of your story. That there are “great” plans for you. But if you just sit there waiting for it, believing that something like that will happen to you–it won’t.
I appreciated that about this book. The main character didn’t feel like much of a hero and even though the people he thought mattered thought he was a failure–he kept trying, as cliche as that sounds.
Spellslinger wasn’t even the greatest book I’ve read. But I appreciated Kellen because he was such a well developed character.
Thanks for reading!