Crownbreaker by Sebastien de CastellCrownbreaker by Sebastien de Castell

Crownbreaker by Sebastien de Castell fantasy book reviewsIn 2019’s Crownbreaker, the final book of the SPELLSLINGER series, Kellen Argos, once Ke’Helios of the House of Ke, is expected to kill a god.

This isn’t the weirdest thing the protagonist of Sebastien De Castell’s fantasy saga has been asked to do, but it’s probably in the top two. Strangely, nearly everyone Kellen knows—his father, his Argosi mentor Ferius, even the queen he is pledged to protect, all want him to do it. I don’t think those folks have ever agreed on anything before.

The job is dangerous, most likely a one-way trip. Kellen will go up against the Berabesq, a society of religious fanatics who will fight to the death. They are the largest nation on the continent and the only thing that has kept neighboring nations safe is that the Berabesq god has six faces, and thus there are six religious factions that squabble among themselves. Now, however, a god has been born to them, uniting them under one banner.

There is one fact of this mission that sticks in Kellen’s craw—the “god” in question is a child.

I haven’t read Queenslayer, the book before this one, so I may have missed some nuance, but honestly, I didn’t notice it. Crownbreaker was the usual wild-and-crazy good time, chock-full of double-crosses, betrayals, and plans that go wrong. It is always fun to watch Kellen go up against highly trained wizards when he has only one spell. Clearly, though, Kellen’s bones would be eroding in the desert somewhere if it weren’t for his fierce and loyal business partner, the squirrel-cat Reichis, and Reichis is in his usual feisty, bloodthirsty and vulgar form here.Crownbreaker by Sebastien de Castell fantasy book reviews

As always, the enemies aren’t quite what we first think, misdirection abounds, and at the end of the book, Kellen must confront, once and for all, his true adversary. The hero of that confrontation is not who we’ve been led to expect.

Kellen is another of young protagonists, which I’m getting tired of; the difference here is, Kellen acts like a teenager half the time because he is one. He’s not afraid to take some direction from Ferius, who is older, wiser and tougher; while she plays a traditional “enigmatic mentor” role, she is an older woman, and balances out some of the angsty youth. Only some, but still.

De Castiell described this is the final book of the series, but leaves the door open for other stories and maybe other novels in this world. (In fact, it looks like another volume, The Fate of the Argosi, comes out in November 2023.) The ending is open-ended and bittersweet, but hopeful. A good escapist read with a good blend of sentimentality and snark.

Published in 2019. A failed mage learns that just because he’s not the chosen one it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero in final book of the Spellslinger series. Once an outlaw spellslinger, Kellen Argos has made a life for himself as the Daroman Queen’s protector. A little magic and a handful of tricks are all it takes to deal with the constant threats to her reign. But when rumors of an empire-shattering war begin to stir, Kellen is asked to commit an unimaginable act to protect his queen. Inside enemy territory, he quickly realizes something is amiss. Someone is playing a dangerous game. And to discover their secrets, Kellen will have to challenge the greatest spellcaster who’s ever lived. Kellen’s misadventures concludes in Crownbreaker, the riveting finale to the adventure fantasy series that began with Spellslinger.


  • Marion Deeds

    Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town.