Queenslayer is the penultimate book in Sebastien De Castells 6 part Spellslinger sequence. The books follow failed mage Kellen as he and his business partner, Reichis, a Squirrel Cat try to survive an outlaws life and stay alive.
As with all of De Castells previous Spellslinger books the plot is fast paced and action packed with real moments of poignancy. The author has a habit of putting out hero through the ringer and this book is no different and if you thought Kellen had suffered enough you would be wrong, the book takes him to new levels of pain and distress including a disturbing sideways look at control and mind rape.
This book is the first without some of the supporting cast and I was wary of how the story would stand up with the amazing character of Ferius but stand up it does. Like Kellan standing for himself the book does likewise.
The plot is sometimes irrelevant in this series of books as Kellen doesn’t always do or act that way a hero does. He himself admits he isn’t a hero and its refreshing to have responses by so human. That is not to say that he is an antihero, he somehow fails to be one of them as well.
The real treat of the book is his and Reichis’ relationship, which is both touching and necessary. Kellan needs at least one ally in his endeavours and the beautifully realised squirrel cat fits the bill perfectly creating a duo that is akin to the strong bond between a Boy and his… dare I say pet dog (Reichis will eat my eyeballs for that comment!).
De Castells other great strength is in creating rich countries and races. In previous books we have been treated to the Jan’Tep and Gitabrians and now we get to delve into the Daroman Empire and the Zhuban. Each faction has depth and structure and provides a great playground upon which to explore the stories.
Queenslayer as the title suggest involves Kellan in court life when he unexpectedly becomes a Queens tutor of cards. Suffice to say that trouble ensues and Kellan is engulfed in a complex web of intrigue and political trickery. Some of the twists are great but one in particular is blunted by being telegraphed quite early on, this does not however detract from the book at all.
A great installment to the series, one I was nervous about, it was a sink or swim one in my view and it swam the channel. I know both look forward to the ending finale which is sure to be huge and also saddness as we will inevitably end out journey with Kellen and Reichis (The true hero… that should save my eyes).