Review: SOULBINDER by Sebastien de Castell

Publisher: Orbit Books
Page Count: 383
Release Date: December 4th, 2018
Series: SPELLSLINGER, Book 4
Rating: 4/5 Stars – Really Liked It

Warning: Potential light spoilers for earlier books in the series! Haven’t read them? You can check out reviews here: SPELLSLINGER, SHADOWBLACK, CHARMCASTER

Kellen’s luck may have finally run out. He and his business partner, the squirrel cat Reichis, have been searching for months for a cure to Kellen’s shadowblack, a curse that may one day consume his entire soul. But an ambush leaves both Kellen and Reichis seriously wounded and stranded in the desert. Kellen is rescued by a mysterious group that may be able to help him understand his curse. Only problem is, his rescuers left Reichis behind, and they don’t particularly care what happened to the squirrel cat. Alone with a group he’s not sure he can trust, Kellen must find a way to escape while also seeking the answers to the questions that have haunted him his entire life.

SOULBINDER is a book about pushing a fledgling hero out of the nest and seeing if he can finally fly on his own. While Kellen’s always been a clever character, able to find out of the box solutions to his problems, he’s always had a bit of a safety net in his traveling companions, Ferius and Reichis. This time, however, Kellen is squarely on his own, forced to see if all the Argosi lessons Ferius has taught him have finally stuck. As a result, we see a Kellen who’s still a bit impetuous and headstrong, but also one who is finally learning to read the room and to consider his questions more carefully.

I continue to enjoy that, although the individual books contain episodic adventures, they also continue to move the big picture forward. You can expect more answers about Kellen’s shadowblack and what it can do, especially as Kellen finds himself amongst people who have been living with the affliction for years. The Jan’tep political situation in Kellen’s homeland continues to escalate and have ripple effects. Complicating Kellen’s life further is that the emerging leader of the Jan’tep is Kellen’s father, a man who wouldn’t have a problem killing his own son if it would preserve the family’s honor or provide sufficient political gain. I enjoyed the scenes of Kellen interacting directly with his father and see how he’s grown from the boy who fled his home over a year prior. (While we’re on the subject of family, I would like to remind everyone that Kellen’s sister Shallan is the worst. The. Worst.)

My one small hang-up about this series is that Kellen continues to have a bit of a Captain Kirk-like tendency to find at least one woman to fall in love with him in every adventure, a feature that causes a bit of an eyeroll in me. That said, the female characters in the series have continued to improve, and I look forward to the next book where Kellen will apparently be matching wits with an impressive eleven-year-old queen.

The SPELLSLINGER series continues to be just great fun. They’re quick adventures I devour in a few days that nevertheless manage to tug at my heart. I got misty-eyed at the end of this one not because it was sad, but because the sentiments expressed were just warmly beautiful. It took a great deal of restraint not to simply pick up the next book and start reading, but expect book 5, QUEENSLAYER, to end up in my reading pile soon!

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