A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
One type of magic incorporates talismans to concentrate power, and mages are gifted in various areas -- healing or mind control with touch. Other powers include communication with animals, control of weather. A few sailing terms mentioned and different styles of ruling explored: monarchies ruled by men with land-holding thanes in support, monarchies ruled by women with councils to advise them. Also, how to equip, pay, and manage an army and how to strategize and negotiate in wartime.
Questions poor leadership and corrupt rulers, saying that, in one unstable kingdom, "Blood and loyalty were more important than talent or training." Also questions fanatical religious practice and how it corrupts government. Loyalty to family, friends, fellow soldiers carries people through wartime.
Positive Role Models
Different characters are reminded that they can overcome bad parenting and still become the person they want to be. Lila grows the most, as she accepts more responsibility instead of running from it and forgives her father for not being present. Hal as well, decides to accept more responsibility, dedicates himself to being competent and fair ruler.
Violence & Scariness
A few grisly moments: a stabbing, a throat slit, a strangling with a garrote, a beheading, a man's head crushed by a horse. Mostly battle violence, with dragon fire responsible for most casualties, volleys of arrows coming in second. Many killed are soldiers whose minds have been taken over. Fanatical men drink blood of enemies. Three poisonings, one of children, who all recover. A fistfight, a beating, and soldiers forced to fight to death for sport. Much talk of how Queen Lyss' father had been assassinated. Dragons injured.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two couples have sex, with little described beyond passionate kissing, rolling around, disrobing, and talk of wanting to see the other person naked. A gay male couple kisses. Questions about whether royal bride is "unsullied." Innuendo about trying out different suitors.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Mostly "ass" and "damn," but also "bitch," "bastard," "hell," and "s--t."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Many scenes of drinking wine and cider while in company, once to excess to bring on sleep. Many characters are older teens with very adult jobs: spy, queen, king, pirate. A teen suffers from withdrawal from drug called "leaf."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Deathcaster, by Cinda Williams Chima, is the fourth and final book in the Shattered Realms fantasy series, a spin-off of the best-selling Seven Realms series. If you haven't read the first series, you can still keep up if you start with Flamecaster, the first Shattered Realms book -- there's a map and some explanation near the beginning of how the magic in this world works. The war starts in earnest in this finale. Expect a few grisly moments, like a stabbing, a throat slit, a strangling with a garrote, a beheading, and a man's head crushed by a horse. Most of battle violence is from a distance, with dragon fire responsible for the most casualties and volleys of arrows coming in second. Also, fanatical men drink the blood of enemies. Two couples have sex in this book, with little described beyond passionate kissing, rolling around, and disrobing. Strong language is mostly "ass" and "damn," with "s--t" and "bitch" rarely. Like Book 2, there's a lot of drinking in company by teens (with adult jobs) and adults. As the series concludes, readers can explore what good government is and how power and fanaticism corrupts.
Is It Any Good?
This hefty warring-realms finale mostly satisfies as it brings on the battles, dragons, romantic reunions, and palace intrigue. Mostly satisfies, because the story goes so broad -- across all the realms, with so many characters in play now -- that it can't go very deep. In Flamecaster, the focus is Ash and Jenna and what will happen to both. In Shadowcaster, it's Lyss and Hal. In Stormcaster, it's Evan and Destin. They're all trying to reunite in Deathcaster, and, except for Hal not understanding what his role is in Lyss' life now that she's queen, the only complication in these relationships is that the couples are forced apart and want to be together, and the reader doesn't know when that will happen in the story (but will they hurry up already, we've been waiting for hundreds of pages).
The complex character of Lila Byrne gets more focus in this story, but we don't see how her life ends up -- maybe in another spin-off series? She is, however, at the center of some great palace intrigue, starting with not one, but two palace weddings going awry. And there are poisonings and castle sieges and networks of spies and traitors all in the mix, making this big finale a real page-turner.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Romantic Fantasy Books for Teens
Thrilling Books for Teens Who Love Fantasy
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate