Wow! Complex, occasionally confusing and yet marvellous. What is it about Private Kaylin Neya that makes her at once vulnerable, impulsive, rash, yet able to see to the heart of things despite her imperfections. Maybe it's her big heart that encompasses all, her need to love, her compulsion to heal and to extend herself to others and on behalf of others. She doesn't back down from what has to be done even when she wants too. She numbers dragons, Barranis and caste lords amongst her acquaintances. Children of all races are her especial joy.
Elantra is recovering from a destructive battle between light and dark. A routine murder investigation has Kaylin and her friends being confronted by an even bigger anomaly. Elantra is in peril, parts are disappearing and time is involved. A mysterious being Gilbert appears from a future Ravellon with a child, Kattea, looking for healing that only the Chosen, Kaylin, can help with. Kaylin is confronted by the idea that shadows have free will and might be able to function as individuals. A disturbing thought! Added to that, Nightshade is missing in Ravellon where only the shadows dwell, and it appears that Gilbert has met him. Healing a broken time rift and rescuing Nightshade and, as it unfolds, Bellusdeo and other of her friends in the course of the investigation is an imperative. Kaylin finds herself accompanied by new and old companions in this race for Elantra's survival. The importance of the elements: water, fire, air and earth, and Everton's garden have never been so confronting, in the quest to find the broken seal of time. As Gilbert explains, "Time is the allowable axis around which change revolves." This has far reaching consequences.
The thing about Kaylin is her sheer determination in spite of the odds. What keeps her going is her love and compassion, her desire to right the world--the unspoken promise to her inner child who had been through so much.
There are two who draw her above others, Nightshade and Severn. There is an emotional loss with Severn that I hope heals. He is in many ways her rock. Nightshade is a part of her too. I know he has marked her but she has marked him. In fact all who are drawn into Kaylin's sphere are in someway marked by her and value her even as she disrupts, dismays and angers them be they Hawk Lord, Dragon Emperor or the Arkon.
Throughout this novel Kaylin and we struggle with the idea of time. Honestly I was thoroughly wrung out with the physics and philosophy of the notion of time. I realized that as I battled to grasp the meaning, I battled it along with Kaylin--what a hook! Sagara places the reader so squarely inside Kaylin's head that you identify with her strongly. When her head throbbed, mine did too. When she was uncertain, so was I.
It seems that the influence of Kattea on Gilbert might be love in its many and varied forms--and that is a huge part of the Elantra novels and Kaylin's raison d'être. As Annarion tells Kaylin, she loves almost unconditionally--her strength and her weakness, her very humanness.
I love the Elantra novels. Why because I love Kaylin and her friends and the challenges they all face. I am always eager to see how they interact, what the the hunt might be, the new quest, and the revelations that come, all underlined by a wry humour.