Sword Catcher is a fantastic start to a new fantasy series from Cassandra Clare

This book contains swords, kings and queens, castles, magic, and the kinds of things you would expect from your typical epic fantasy. It was a very strong start to a new series and new world, and I very much cannot wait for more from this series as I am very much enthralled and invested in it.

The story follows the points of view of two separate characters. There is Kel, a boy raised in an orphanage as his parents abandoned him, chosen when he was only 10 to take on a very important role for the crown prince, Conor. This being to be Conor’s Sword Catcher, a role throughout history of the prince’s protector and at times stand-in in moments of possible public danger. Kel was groomed from this young age to defend Conor at all costs, to at times pretend to be him if danger is a possibility, and to potentially die for him if it means saving his life.

On the other hand there is Lin, raised in a very different world, that of the Ashkar, the only people with any kind of magic left as their goddess destroyed everyone else’s access to it in the Sundering, and as a result, a people that are looked down on and shunned because of jealousy. Lin is a bit of a pariah from her own people as well however, as she chose to become a doctor despite being told it was not a role for women. Her greatest drive in life is to find a cure for her best friend Mariam, who is dying of a disease that has no cure.

Their two paths collide when Kel is gravely injured and Lin’d grandfather, who holds a very important role in the palace working for the monarchy, brings her in to save his life. However, this is not the only way their paths end up crossing, as they both find themselves with the attention of the same powerful criminal man upon them, seeking something from them separately. This secret bonds them as they traverse the uncertain plans the Ragpicker King seems to have for them, trying to determine if his attentions are insidious or genuine.

The world-building was gradual but fascinating. I loved learning the history of Sword Catcher’s, the in depth culture of Castellane and its many different people, and especially the Ashkar and their ties to gematry. I also absolutely adored the snippets between chapters of history which kind of outlined how magic used to be and its fall. I found these very fascinating and couldn’t wait for each little page that offered a little more of the story. I also enjoyed the very small tidbits we were given of other lands and their cultures, through Conor’s mother, as well as his potential marriage matches which hinted at these other kingdoms and made me want to know more. I’m very much hoping there might be further exploration of these other kingdoms in later books and that we will get to see more of the different cultures this book possesses. All this to say it has the beginnings of the well thought out, vast world-building Clare is known for in her Shadowhunter world, and it promises to be just as unique and enthralling.

The interactions between Conor and Lin were some of my favourite parts throughout Sword Catcher. They are both so stubbornly fiery in their temperaments and butt heads at every turn and I lived for their constant battle for dominance over the other. Not least because Conor is a spoiled prince unused to anyone standing up to him and Lin takes him aback by doing just that. Spoiled prince or not I couldn’t help but love Conor as well. He makes plenty of mistakes, shows his entitlement and lacks morals at times, and yet he’s still such a compelling character and easily a favourite.

This brings me to characters. Particularly side characters/not quite as main characters. There were so many characters so lush with life that they were just as interesting and hard not to love as the main ones themselves. Clare is adept at weaving compelling characters and it really shows in Sword Catcher as I enjoyed so many of them, large role or otherwise. It’s a great book that makes me care so much about even the characters that take up far less of the page, or otherwise keeps me thinking about those characters and wishing for more of them. This was definitely a strength of Sword Catcher.

Otherwise I would say this book, to me, was a bit of a slow burn. Not crazily so, to the point that it was at times a slog to get through, in fact it was quite the opposite. Despite feeling as if events that took place were rather tame, and more in setting up the world and the larger plot to come, I still flew through the book and didn’t want to put it down. And as I stated previously, I loved the snippets at the end of each chapter detailing the history of the fall of magic, and this is just one detail of the world-building that hooked me. Again, I feel the need to iterate that it isn’t the fact that nothing really happened in the book, it just felt like a lot of the details were meant more to set things up for later, and this is why it felt like a slow burn to me. But slow burn done correctly so that it didn’t feel tedious to get through. I still enjoyed it immensely. Speaking of slow burns, boy were the romances in this book slooooooooooowwwww burn. To the point that I’m not even entirely sure who is meant to be entangled with who in some cases. There was just enough to satisfy my need for romance with my plot, but not quite as much as I could have wished for. However, Sword Catcher is very clearly about the story, and I feel this is typical for Clare, thus this isn’t a mark against the book as far as my feelings on it. Here’s hoping the romances are a little more potent and perhaps spicy in the second book so I can get a clearer picture.

The ending left off with many questions and undoubtedly intriguing places for the story to go and I find myself very eager for the second book’s release. I am very excited to continue this series as I feel Sword Catcher was a very strong start to what promises to be an epic journey. I’m so excited for more of this world!


By Danielle Plant

An avid reader and runner. I like to spend my spare time with my dogs Reese and Orion.

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