cover image Cast in Conflict

Cast in Conflict

Michelle Sagara. Mira, $16.99 trade paper (544p) ISBN 978-0-7783-3203-9

A sentient tower that recently lost its captain must choose a replacement, pitting friends against each other in Sagara’s weighty 16th Chronicles of Elantra fantasy (after Cast in Wisdom). An ancient Academia, a kind of sentient, all-ages university, has recently been discovered, and the captain of Candallar Tower’s attempt to capture it got him killed. As a result, Corporal Kaylin Neya is caught in the middle of a storm brewing within her cohort of Barrani soldiers, who are all mentally connected to each other. Two members plan on leaving to attend the Academia, while leader Sedarias vies to be the next captain of the tower, hoping to give the cohort a safe place to settle permanently. But Bellusdeo, the last female dragon, also wants the tower, as it will allow her both to continue fighting for her species and safely have her clutch. It’s ultimately the tower’s choice who will be captain, and it has a series of high-stakes tests in store for the characters. Sagara devotes much of the page count to exposition and explication of character dynamics, delivering far less action than in previous installments. It’s slow going, but series fans will be glad to return to this detailed world and dive deeper into the characters’ relationships. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary. (June)