Sword Catcher
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Proof copy (released 10th October 2023)

In the vibrant city-state of Castellane, a young orphan named Kel is stolen from his old life to enter a new one of luxury and peril. Lin Caster is an Ashkar physician, part of a community ostracised for its rare magical abilities. But events pull her and Kel together and into the web of the mysterious Ragpicker King who rules Castellane’s criminal underworld.

Together, they’ll discover an extraordinary conspiracy. But can forbidden love bring down a kingdom? And will their discoveries plunge their nation into war and the world into chaos?

Cassandra Clare has been one of the leading names in the young adult genre ever since I was a teenager myself. Now I'm almost 30, I was thrilled to learn that she's written her first adult book; which felt like something I'd be able to enjoy much more at the current point of my life. I'm pleased to say, it did not disappoint.

This is not only Clare's first adult book, but is also her first book not set in the Shadowhunter world, which I'm sure we've all grown to love over the years. A word of warning: this book is not for the faint hearted. It's a fat, juicy, fantasy novel - but I found it completely unputdownable.

It follows the story of Kel, an orphan who is stolen as a child and whisked away to the heart of Castellane; where he comes the body double of bad-boy Prince Connor. As Connor and Kel grow up together, they're more like brothers than associates. But Kel's core belief is that his purpose is to die for Connor, if needed. I found the idea of a body double (or Sword Catcher) such an interesting concept to explore and I'd never read a book with this narrative before.

We also follow the story of Lin; a physician with low-level magic. Kel and Lin's paths begin to intertwine and they both find themselves in the criminal underworld, working for the Ragpicker King. Little is known about the enigma of the Ragpicker King, but the pair are definitely about to find out...

They're led down a path of politics, violence and crime. Did I also mention that there's a lost goddess that everyone is desperately in search of? It's packed full of everything you'd want from a high fantasy novel.

If you've read any of Cassandra Clare's books, you'll know that her worldbuilding is second to none. And I think this is one of the strongest points of Sword Catcher. From the materials of the clothing, to the taste of the food, to the vividness of the violence; the descriptions are simply incredible, and leave little to the imagination

It's full of twists and turns, and it's hard to feel certain of anything when reading this book. Decisions change at the turn of a page, and you'll feel unsure of who to trust throughout. This does wonders at keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. I usually struggle with books of this size, but I flew threw it, finishing in just a day - which is no small feat!

Something that Clare does expertly is characters and relationships; and this book truly highlights that. They're so fleshed out and flawed, which makes their choices and decisions all the more relatable. Connecting to characters is the most important aspect to me when reading a book, and Clare makes it incredibly easy to do so.

I haven't long left the world of Castellane, but I'm already desperate to be back. At the recent Cassandra Clare event I attended, we were told the second book will focus more on the infamous Ragpicker King, and I, for one, can not wait.

If you're looking for a book that's full of politics, violence, double crossing and romance; then this is most definitely the book for you. I can't wait to be introduced more to the world and hopefully become as familiar with it as I am the world of Shadowhunters. It's a chunky book that's full of some of the richest worldbuilding and descriptions I've ever read. Bring on book two! 

I also had the honour of meeting Cassie at her latest exclusive bookish event for Sword Catcher, and she was just as lovely as I dreamed she'd be. Thank you so much to Jamie for inviting me! 

1 comment

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