Cast in Shadow (Chronicles of Elantra Series #1)

( 160 )


Seven years ago Kaylin fled the crime-riddled streets of Nightshade, knowing that something was after her. Children were being murdered — and all had the same odd markings that mysteriously appeared on her own skin.…

Since then, she's learned to read, she's learned to fight and she's become one of the vaunted Hawks who patrol and police the City of Elantra. Alongside the winged Aerians and the immortal Barrani, she's made a place for herself, ...

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Cast in Shadow (Chronicles of Elantra Series #1)

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Seven years ago Kaylin fled the crime-riddled streets of Nightshade, knowing that something was after her. Children were being murdered — and all had the same odd markings that mysteriously appeared on her own skin.…

Since then, she's learned to read, she's learned to fight and she's become one of the vaunted Hawks who patrol and police the City of Elantra. Alongside the winged Aerians and the immortal Barrani, she's made a place for herself, far from the mean streets of her birth.

But children are once again dying, and a dark and familiar pattern is emerging. Kaylin is ordered back into Nightshade with a partner she knows she can't trust, a Dragon lord for a companion and a device to contain her powers — powers that no other human has. Her task is simple — find the killer, stop the murders…and survive the attentions of those who claim to be her allies!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373802548
  • Publisher: Luna
  • Publication date: 7/28/2006
  • Series: Chronicles of Elantra Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 254,577
  • Product dimensions: 4.21 (w) x 6.62 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Michelle Sagara writes as both Michelle Sagara and Michelle West; she is also published as Michelle Sagara West. She lives in Toronto with her long-suffering husband and her two children, and to her regret has no dogs.

She can be found @msagara on Twitter or

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Read an Excerpt

Black circles under the eyes were not, Kaylin decided, a very attractive statement. Neither was hair matted with old sweat, or eyes red with lack of sleep. She accepted the fact that on this particular morning, mirrors were not going to be her friend. Luckily, she didn't have many of them in the small quarters she called home. She got out of bed slowly, studiously avoided the short hall that led from her bolted doors to the kitchen, the closets and the large space she lived in otherwise, and lifted clothing from beneath a rumpled pile, examining it carefully.

It sort of looked clean.

She pulled the linen tunic over her head, cursed as her hair caught in the strings that secured it and yanked, hard. Shadows fell over the ledge of her single window, stretching across the floor at an ominous angle. She was going to be late. Again.

Pants were less tricky; she only had a few, and chose the black leather ones. They were, at the moment, the only ones she owned that weren't cut, torn or bloody.

She'd have to ask Iron Jaw for a better clothing allowance. Or more time to spend the pittance she did have.

The mirror in the hall began to glow, and she cursed under her breath. She'd clearly have to ask him on a different morning.

"Coming," she muttered.

The mirror flashed, light hanging in the room like an extended, time-slowed bolt of lightning. Iron Jaw was in a lousy mood, and it wasn't even lunch. He hated to use the mirrors.

She buttoned up her pants, pulled on her boots and sidled her way toward the mirror, hoping that the light was the effect of lack of sleep. Not much hope there, really.

"Kaylin, where the hell have you been?"

No, the mirror this morning was definitely not her friend. She pulled her hair up, curled it in a tight bun and shoved the nearest stick she could find through its center. Then she picked up the belt on the table just to the left of that mirror and donned it, adjusting dagger hilts so they didn't butt against her lower ribs.

"Kaylin Neya, you'd better answer soon. I know you're there."

Putting on her best we-both-know-it's-fake smile, she walked over to the mirror and said, sweetly, "Good morning, Marcus."

He growled.

Not a particularly encouraging sign, given that Marcus was Leontine, and had a bad habit of ripping the throats out of people who were stupid enough to annoy him. His lower fangs were in evidence as he snarled. But his eyes, cat eyes, were wide and unblinking in the golden fur that adorned his face, and his fur was not — yet — standing on end. His hands, however, were behind his back, and his broad chest was adorned with the full flowing robes of the Hawks.

Official dress. In the morning. Gods, she was going to be in trouble.

"Morning was two hours ago," he snapped.

"You're in fancy dress," she said, changing the subject about as clumsily as she ever did.

"And you look like shit. What the hell were you doing last night?"

"None of your business."

"Good answer," he growled. "Why don't you try it on the Hawklord?"

She groaned. "What day is it?"

"The fourth," he replied.

Fourth? She counted back, and realized that she'd lost a day. Again. "I'm missing something, aren't I?"

"Brains," he snapped. "And survival instinct. The Hawk-lord's been waiting for you for three hours."

"Tell him I'm dead."

"You will be if you don't get your ass in here." He muttered something else, a series of growls that she knew, from experience, meant something disparaging about humans. She let it pass. "I'll be there in half an hour."

"Dressed like that? You'll be out in thirty-five. On your ass."

She put her palm on the mirror's surface, cutting him off and scattering his image. Then she went to her closet and began to really move.

Bathed, cleaned, groomed and in the full dress uniform of the Hawks — which still involved the only intact pants she owned — Kaylin approached the front of the forbidding stone halls ruled by the three Lords of Law: The Lord of Wolves, the Lord of Swords and the Lord of Hawks. At least that's what they were called on official documents and in polite company, of which Kaylin knew surprisingly little.

The Swords were the city's peacekeepers, something ill-suited to Kaylin; the Wolves were its hunters, and often, its killers. And the Hawks? The city's eyes. Ears. The people who actually solved crimes.

Then again, she would think that; Kaylin had been a Hawk for the entire time she'd been involved on the right side of the law, and didn't speak about the years that preceded it much.

By writ of the Emperor of Karaazon, the Halls of Law were the only standing structures allowed to approach the height of the Imperial palace, and the three towers, set against a wide stretch of expensive ground in the shape of a triangle, flew the flags of the Lords of Law: the Hawk, the Wolf and the Sword. From her vantage, they could hardly be seen; she was too close. But from the rest of the city? They never rested.

Neither, she thought, did the people who served them. She was damn tired.

The front doors were always manned, and she recognized Tanner and Clint as they lowered their pole-arms, barring her way. It was the Hawk's month for guard duty; they shared rotation of that honor with the Swords. The Wolves, lazy bastards, weren't considered fit for dress duty. Or ritual entries.

She hated ritual.

Clint and Tanner didn't love it much better than she did.

"Kaylin, where the hell have you been?" Tanner asked. It was the refrain that punctuated too much of her daily existence.

"Getting cleaned up, if you must know."

Tanner was, at six and a half feet, tall even for a human. His helm was strictly a dress helm, and it gleamed bronze in the afternoon sunlight, running from the capped height of his head down the line of his nose, as if it were a bird's mask. To either side of the metal, his eyes were a dark, deep brown.

Clint shook his head, and the glinting helm's light left an after-image in her vision. But he smiled. He was about two inches shorter than Tanner, and his skin was the dark ebony of the Southern stretch. She loved the sound of his voice, and he knew it.

It wasn't the only thing she loved about him. "You've got to give up the moonlighting," he told her.

"When the pay here doesn't suck."

He laughed out loud, his halberd shaking as he began to lift it. "You really didn't get much sleep, did you? Iron Jaw has ears like a Barrani — he'll have your hide on his wall as a dartboard."

She rolled her eyes. "Can I go now?"

"Your doom," he said, his voice still sweet with the sound of amused laughter. But his expression gained a moment's gravity as he leaned forward and lowered that voice into a fold of deep velvet. "Sesti told me."

"Sesti told you what?"

"What you were doing the past two days."

"Tell her to piss off next time you see her."

He laughed again. She could spend all day making him laugh, just for the thrill of the deep rich tones of that voice. But if she did it today? It would be her last day. She smiled.

"That won't be until his naming day." Aerian men were forbidden the birthing caves — unless those caves held the dead or the dying. Even then, they could come to claim their wives, no more. Kaylin had never understood this.

"When are you off duty?" she asked him.

"About two hours."

"You haven't been home yet?"

"Not yet."

"Sesti had a boy. Healthy, but his feathers were a mess. Took us three hours to clean 'em down."

"Always does," he said with an affectionate shrug. "Go on. Iron Jaw's been biting anyone who gets in reach."

She nodded, walked past and then turning, reached out to touch the soft, ash gray of Clint's wings. They snapped up and out beneath her fingers.

"You haven't changed in seven years," he told her, turning. "Don't touch the flight feathers."

If the exterior of the Halls of Law was forbidding, the interior was hardly less so. The front doors opened into a hall that not even cathedrals could boast. It rose three storeys, and across its vaulted ceilings, frescoes had been painted — Hawk, Wolf and Sword, trailing light and shadow in a grim depiction of various hunts. Sunlight streamed in from a window that was at least as tall, and certainly more impressive; the colors of the paint were protected from sunlight, and always on display, a reminder to newcomers of what the Halls meant to those who displeased their rulers.

But this hall was not meant to intimidate; it was built with a practical purpose in mind — which wasn't true of many of the Imperial buildings. The Aerians that served the Lords of Law did not walk easily in the confined, cramped space of regular human halls. Clint, armed and armored, could easily take to the air in the confines of the rising stone walls, and high, high above her, the perch of the Aerie loomed; she had seen him reach it many, many times. Aerians circled above her, against the backdrop of colored fresco, and as always, she envied them their ability to truly fly.

The closest she'd ever gotten involved a long drop that had almost ended her life. She wasn't eager to repeat it.

And if the Hawklord had really been waiting for three — close to four — hours now, she didn't give much for her chances. She began to run.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 160 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 161 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Angieville: CAST IN SHADOW

    And here we have the first in yet another series I had heard much good about but avoided picking up for a variety of no good reasons. I think my reluctance stemmed somewhat from an uncertainty as to just what kind of series Michelle Sagara's Cast series was. I think at first I had the impression it was a paranormal romance, possibly an urban fantasy (the covers influenced me this way). A few chapters in I was surprised to find CAST IN SHADOW much more a mix of dark and high fantasy, peopled with a smattering of solid gold, humorous, and truly sinister characters living in a fully developed, layered, and fascinating world.

    Kaylin Neya is a Hawk. The youngest of that number, in fact. In the city of Elantra, the Hawks are charged with policing the streets and guarding the citizens. They share that responsibility with their sibling organizations the Wolves and the Swords. Together the three forces are headquartered in the Halls of Law. Elantra's citizens are made up of a mix of humans like Kaylin, winged Aerians, furred Leontines, and the immortal Barrani. Seven years ago Kaylin left a life of squalor on the streets of the fief of Nightshade, gave herself a new name, and made her way to Elantra in search of a fresh start. Now her past has caught up with her as a series of murders takes place in Nightshade. Disturbing in their own right, they also bear an eerie resemblance to events in Kaylin's past she thought for sure she'd left behind.

    CAST IN SHADOW starts at a good clip and doesn't slow down once. The writing is uncluttered and engaging and Kaylin is an extremely likeable heroine. She runs from a past so dark she has avoided revealing it to her closest friends. She has a gift for healing and will drop everything at a moment's notice to deliver a baby or rescue an orphan in trouble. It was actually kind of refreshing to read about a kick-a** heroine with a soft spot for children. So often they have an allergy to kids or have issues with some of the "softer" emotions and I loved Kaylin because she was both fierce and compassionate. I cheered her on when she was fighting and I wanted to help guard her secrets. Of which she has many. She has friends, enemies, comrades, and those who would use her for her unusual abilities, yet Kaylin remains a little aloof from them all, determined to make her own way. She's my kind of girl. Only a handful of pages into the book and I was completely invested from that point on. I loved this story and can't wait to move on to the next installment--CAST IN COURTLIGHT.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2012

    Great for a "Reading Binge"

    First off... This is in no way an Urban fantasy novel. The cover art is misleading. The story in fact takes place in a completely different world with an assortment of fantasy creatures that rule over humans. That said..... I am hooked! I really cant get enough of the characters. I have so far read 3 books in this seires and they just get better and better. Cast in Shadow is at times slow but that is in my opinion no reason to put it down. Youll be glad you didnt.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    cast in shadow

    Seven years ago, Kaylin left the fief of Nightshade with various demons at her back, vowing never to return. She has made it into the ranks of the Hawks - one of the three branches of peacekeepers in Elantra including Wolves, Hawks and the Swords. She's worked hard to get where she is, overcoming a rough childhood where she lived on the streets or fiefs, scrounging to make a life for herself. The fiefs are areas full of old magic that don't really come under any government jurisdiction and it shows as crime is rampant. Kaylin's boss gives her a new assignment, asking her to investigate a recent murder in the fief along with surprise, surprise her childhood friend Severn who she doesn't exactly have fond memories of. But the murders throw her back into the horrors of her past as the killings mirror those that occurred seven years ago when she still lived in the fiefs. Kaylin is determined to stop the murders this time and with Severn and a Dragon at her back she is prepared to unravel the mystery no matter what the cost to herself.

    So much happens in this 400+ page book but not always what I wanted to hear about. I found myself confused about several points in this book. For the first 100 pages or so, I had absolutely no clue what was going on - so much history, the different races - it was a lot to take in. It got better, but I was still floundering for the rest of the book. Most of the time I left a scene only understanding a piece of what just occurred. But that's not to say Sagara's world building isn't extremely impressive. Elantra is composed of six races: humans, Aerians, Dragons, Barrani, Leontine, and the creepy Tha'alani. Each has it's own complicated set of customs and caste system that I for one, would have loved to learn more about. And I want to know more about Kaylin's early years spent with the Hawks and Severn's time spent with the Shadow Wolves. I know this book is intended to be the frist in a series, I just wanted MORE for this one. There were also a few inconsistencies that stood out a little too much: like the fact that even though Kaylin was raised on the streets she refers to herself at one point as a spoiled brat. Huh. I didn't know street urchins qualified as spoiled brats. But Kaylin herself is wonderful. She does what it takes to get the job done and I can't but help love her for that.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I love the originality of the book, the story, and the concept.

    I love the originality of the book, the story, and the concept. What intrigued me most, and I'm not just talking about the mystery that wrapped around kaylin, but also how the character bounced around in relationships. The backstories of the characters are slowly worked in making them more interesting and strange. Your happy to find out more about the character as you keep reading. The author even plays on that, thinking that the emotions and feelings are leading in one direction but drastically switching suddenly. It's been a while that I actually really enjoy a book and needing to know what happens. It's not something that you can guess easily. I've enjoyed reading this and know that I will read the others

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2014

    There was something off . . .

    I liked this book, but didn't love it. I'm an avid fantasy/urban fantasy/fantasy romance/sci-fi reader and I found the writing style in this book abrupt in some spots and disjointed in others. The author's writing would flow for a while then suddenly change leaving me disorriented and truth to be told, sometimes totally confused. Several places I re-read to try to understand what happened only to still be unsure what had transpired.

    I did enjoy the characters in this story. The plot was good (I can't say great though) and dragged in a few spots.

    After reading several reviews for this book, I realized that others found following this storyline a bit of a maze too. I'm encouraged by the reader who reread the first book and then went on to purchase the remaining books in the series. I might do this because other reviewers seemed to really love the series (stating the first was a tough one but the rest are better). I'm seeking a good series right now.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2013

    A great read!

    Such a great read. There was action thtoughout the book, complex alies, old friendships and dark secrets that kept me turning my page. Its only been a day since i purchased the first in the series; I know have three more books in the series. Absolutly LOVE this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2013

    Great series, but...

    This first book in the series was tough for me to get through. The plot seemed jumpy rather than a smooth telling. The one thing that kept me going were the characters. I liked them, so I finished the book. Then I went back and reread it. Then it fell into place, the plot and the setting together with the characters. Since then I've read most of the series and have enjoyed them all. I love her depiction of her characters and the world they inhabit.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2012

    love this series

    These books are absolutely addictive. Once you start you will not be able to do anything else. Don't say you weren't warned.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

    Cast in Shadow

    Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara is the first book in this series. We are introduced to a special young lady, Kaylin Neyar. Kaylin does not understand the power she has and why people would kill for it.
    We learn that she left Nightshade because of some children's death seven years ago, however, it is happening again but quicker this time. Kaylin has to face an old friend turned enemy and the past that she thought was behind her. With new partners she most find the killer and stop him before there are more lost to her. Will she be able to over come everything that she meets up with? Check out this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Kaylin Neya is a mystery one day marks appeared on her skin and

    Kaylin Neya is a mystery one day marks appeared on her skin and people with the identicle marks began to be found dead in the fief on Nightshade, overall thirty-eight children are found murdered with markings like hers carved into their skin but the killing stopped the day she ran away from the fiefs, and away from severn. Now years later Kaylin has joined the hawks and organisation which works alongside the wolves and the swords who together enforce the law in the city of Elantra. She is also a healer an ability which would see her joining the ranks of the emperors healers by force if she was discovered. Kaylin thought she had left all the horrors of her childhood behind but then the killings start again and Severn someone she thought she would never see again comes back into her life. To make matters worse she is ordered to work together with him and a Dragon called Tiamaris in an attempt to stop the killing and bring the people responsible to justice, but to find the killers Kaylin must first understand the connection her marks have to the case before more people end up dead.

    Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara is an amazing story set in an imaginative and fully developed world filled with mystery. Elantra's citizens consist of Humans, dragons, Aerians, Barrani and Tha'alani. You are quickly launched into this world as if it had already existed and u have just arrived it was something that I loved about this story, it left you wanting to know more about this world and starving for the next clue to explain this astonishing world, it also made the world seem more real and allowed you to accept this imaginative and original world more easily. 

    When i first bought this book it got left on my shelf for months unread this was due to the fact that i was unsure of exactly what to expect upon reading this book. I now severely regret that i didn't read cast in shadows the moment I bought it as the Chronicles of Elantra has now become my favourite series out of all the books I have read. Cast in shadow doesn't slow done at all keeping a fast pace all the way through but still manages to have an uncluttered and well developed storyline. Only a handful of pages into this book and I was ensnarled and I quickly bought the second, third and fourth book (that was all that was out at the time). I recommend this book to everyone to read as this is an unrecognised masterpiece and i believe a lot more people need to read Michelle Sagara's Chronicles of Elantra series.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    Fantastic book

    This book has just the right amount of fighting and struggling to belong, amazing book definetly worth the read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    Addictive to read

    I wanted someone new to read and gave Cast in Shadow a try. Wow! Now Michelle Sagara is a favorite author and all the Elantra novels are in my book collection. The cast of characters are a different species from the usual run of shape changers, dragons and magic users which makes this world unpredictable and new. Sagara's imagery and storytelling takes you effortlessly inside the story. If you enjoy D. Monk, I. Andrews or M. Lackey you won't be disappointed.

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Very good, fast read

    This is a fast paced read with characters you can identify with, even if they are of different species! One of my favorites is Marcus Kassan, the Leontine; he is a combination of lethal and compassionate that I find appealing.

    Kaylin, the heroine, is suitably clumsy and uncouth given her age and background, but shows great strength and ability when it's needed. She is also not a great beauty, which is refreshing, as so many "heroines" are portrayed as if being decorative is a requisite to BEING a heroine :)

    I would recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy.

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  • Posted December 16, 2010

    Love, love, love this book!!

    This is a wonderful book with some good strong characters. There's lots of action and I couldn't put it down.

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  • Posted October 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Boring and unimaginative read

    I'm always on the look out for new authors of paranormal fiction and once in a while end up with a dud. In this case, the story was slow and tedious without any qualities to make you want to read anything more. I was disappointed because I could see the potential of the author but the writing style and the plot simply wasn't engaging enough.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    One of the best books I've read! The plot is very original and interesting! Definitely recomended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2007


    i highly recommend this book because it was that good. it's hard to find quality urban fantasies to read these days. The main character is unpretentious and has many flaws. The different races that exist are written in detail and really make the story better. go and buy this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2006


    Exellent! If you love an action packed book with a sarcastic voice you need to read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2006

    Great new series...

    Well written, strong characters...lots of twists, and just a hint of romance. If you like strong female lead characters with supernatural powers and a hint of angst, you'll enjoy this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2006

    A WONDERFUL read!

    I truly enjoyed this book, and can't wait til the next one comes out! The characters really did come alive, and they interacted with each other beautifully. The different races were a delight, and were quick to pick up on. The plot behind the story was excellent, and it kept the suspense up until the very end! The language of this book is excellent, perhaps until the very end when it gets too 'prose' like and too vague for my personal taste. But I'm an action girl who likes a bit of mystery-- so despite all that this truly was a -great- read!

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