Stormcaster: Shattered Realms, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Stormcaster: Shattered Realms, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Spies, pirates, palace intrigue heat up complex tale.

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age 13+
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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

One type of magic in this series incorporates talismans to concentrate power, and mages are gifted in various areas -- healing or mind control with touch. Other powers include communication with animals and control of weather. Readers can think about how this magical world differs from others they've read about. A few sailing terms mentioned and a look at the lives of ship's captains and pirates.

Positive Messages

Loyalty to family, friends, fellow soldiers carries people through wartime. Shows how difficult repairing relations between countries can be after years of war.

Positive Role Models & Representations

New main characters both older teen boys who are gay. They hide many things from each other at first, but learn that trusting each other relieves them of burdens. They use the word "ruthless" often as their strategy to dispatch enemies. People get hurt, killed as a result, but it often serves to protect others in the end. Evan, once a pirate, turns into a fair merchant and sailor and tries to save lives by warning the Queen of the Fells about an invasion. Destin, beaten by his father for being gay, becomes a capable spy who works to have the best person in power. He's seen much corruption but doesn't fall into it; he fights it instead.


Sexual assault that ends before clothes are removed; a battle on a ship with swords leaving pirates dead; zombie-like soldiers beheaded after skewering them with swords doesn't stop them; people killed by drowning, getting stabbed, falling from the air when a flying dragon lets go. A man loses his leg below the knee to a trap; other men are stung by venomous tentacles. Kidnappings, imprisonment, poisonings, and a drugging. A dog nearly decapitated with a knife. A fight leads to a broken leg. Story about a batterer beating his wife and son, and the son trying to kill him with a knife.  


Two teen boys kiss. Talk of a man's many sexual encounters and how another man feels lucky not to have walked in on him.


A sprinkling of insults including "bastard," "ass," "bloody hell," "s--tload," and "go suck a Breaker's balls."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many scenes of drinking wine and cider while in company, once to excess. Many characters are older teens, but with very adult jobs: spy, captain of the army, pirate. Talk of a man fighting his addiction to a drug called "leaf."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Stormcaster, by Cinda Williams Chima, is the third 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 -- there's a map and some explanation near the beginning of the first book, Flamecaster, of how the magic in this world works. As in the first two books, two characters get special focus and form a bond. In the other two books, the characters are straight. In Stormcaster, they're gay teens. Destin grew up being beaten by his father for who he was. Evan grew up on the streets and turned to piracy. Both have vital roles in protecting the Realms from an evil queen who controls an army of zombie-like super-soldiers that can only be stopped with beheading. No big war in Book 3, but there are a few skirmishes and zombie soldier beheadings. Other violence includes a sexual assault that ends before clothes are removed; people killed by drowning, getting stabbed, and falling from the air when a flying dragon lets go; a man losing his leg below the knee to a trap; and other men getting stung by venomous tentacles. Add to that kidnappings, imprisonment, poisonings, and a drugging. There's a smattering of strong language -- nothing beyond "s--tload" -- and a lot of drinking in company by teens (with adult jobs) and adults. Two teen boys kiss, and there's much talk about a man at court and his many exploits.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byg.p. June 11, 2019
It’s honestly a great book. Finished it in just a couple of days, I couldn’t put the book down.

10/10 would recommend to people who are into fantasy and advent... Continue reading

What's the story?

In STORMCASTER, Evan finds out he's a Stormcaster when his pirate ship is attacked by Queen Celestine's ship and he unleashes magic to save himself. He both uses and hides his identity after that, altering the weather just enough to sail ships safely, but trusting no one with his secret or even his real name -- until he meets Destin Karn at a country house he'd been squatting in. They don't quite hit it off: Each thinks the other has been sent to kill him. Evan breaks Destin's leg in a fight. But in time, they begin to trust each other, and Evan explains the threat that Queen Celestine poses to him as a Stormcaster and to the Realms. Fast-forward a few years. Destin is back in the kingdom of Arden in the south, acting as spy to a young and foolish new king. Evan runs a port in the north. From different sources, they hear of Celestine's takeover of the Chalk Cliffs and know that she means to conquer the Seven Realms. Both Evan and Destin have an integral part to play in convincing their warring kingdoms to unify in order to save the Realms.

Is it any good?

Full of spies and pirates and palace intrigue, this third installment weaves a complex and windy tale but serves more as a setup for the big final battle. Fans who are in it for author Cinda Williams Chima's great characters will be glad to hear that all the major players they've met so far get a turn to narrate: Lyss, Hal, Ash, Jenna. And in Stormcaster, there are two more as well: Destin, a spy, and Evan, a pirate and Stormcaster. Chima does a stellar job making Destin and Evan, characters with conflicted pasts, worth rooting for. And she brings gay characters forward to take the main storyline when, in fantasy especially, this doesn't happen often.

The downside to following six people so closely is that more than 500 pages pass and the big battles still haven't begun. There's no climactic action here that would befit a series about warring kingdoms -- just revelations that are supposed to tide readers over. Yes, the staging is well done -- spies double-crossing spies, new alliances formed -- but it's still staging, and it will make the wait for Book 4 so much harder.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the gay main characters in Stormcaster. How often are gay characters represented in fantasy?

  • What obstacles did these characters face that the straight romantic pairings from the first two books did not encounter?

  • Will you read the next book in the series? Do you think Evan and Destin will see each other again? What about Lyss and Hal? Ash and Jenna?

Book details

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For kids who love fantasy and LGBTQ stories

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