cover image Sword Catcher

Sword Catcher

Cassandra Clare. Del Rey, $30 (624p) ISBN 978-0-525-61999-4

Bestselling YA author Clare (the Shadowhunter Chronicles series) makes her adult debut with this enchanting if somewhat bloated fantasy, the first in a series. Kel is the Sword Catcher, bodyguard to Conor Aurelian, Prince of Castellane. Having sworn his undying loyalty to Conor (“I die that he might live forever”), Kel’s sole job is to keep the prince safe. When the prince’s reckless choices land him in hot water with slumlord Prosper Beck, Kel turns to the enigmatic Ragpicker King, criminal ruler of the underworld, for assistance. In alternating sections, readers are also introduced to Lin Caster. Lin is an Ashkar, those born with the only remaining magic left in Castellane and exiled behind the city-state’s walls. As a healer, however, Lin is able to enter the city, and the two narratives intertwine when Lin is called to heal one of the royals and she and Kel meet. Clare drops readers into this ornate and unique world and plants seeds for forbidden romance, dangerous magic, and brewing war to be harvested in later installments. The book at hand, however, lacks a sense of urgency, and Kel’s sections outshine Lin’s, making the pacing a bit uneven. Still, this multilayered epic is sure to be a hit with Clare’s many fans. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Oct.)