Outcaste by Fletcher DeLancey is the next book in the Chronicles of Alsea series. Though the title states that Outcaste is the 6th book in the Chronicles of Alsea series, it did not feel like a sequel, or even the prequel that it could have been. It is a coming of age tale that spans well into adulthood for a woman named Rahel Sayana. She lives in a world of castes where your future and career are ordained in part by your parents’ careers, and in part by your tested ability. But tests and parentage mean nothing when compared to the passion that lies within our hearts. Who is to say what a seed will become until it is dropped in some soil? Rahel Sayana is that seed. She runs away from home to make her own future and finds a hard life working underage in the shadows of society, living as an outcaste with no name or protections. She is a misfit, as are the friends she makes.
After years of living on the edge, doing work that no parent would want for their child, she is rescued and given a new opportunity to reach her dreams. But sometimes we walk the path of life with a map of righteousness in front of our faces, and we fail to see when our leader has lost their own way. In that, Rahel finds herself not just lost and outcaste yet again, but missing something even more valuable to her. Honor. In the end, she can think of only one way to gain back her self-respect as a warrior. But will it destroy her, or lead her to salvation?
There were a lot of characters throughout the book, a lot of teachers for Rahel. Some are people from the other Alsea books, but Rahel is definitely the center of the novel. The story whips and whirls around her like a storm will scour across dock in a circular tempest. I have never in my life loved, hated, and felt immense sympathy for the same character at once. Certainly not the way I did for Rahel Sayana. I had no choice but to like her from the very beginning, Fletcher DeLancey took away my choice with her powerful words and well-crafted story.
The Writing Style
I think some who don’t read fantasy or sci-fi may take issue with the Aslean words that are sprinkled in but honestly it didn’t take much adapting at all. Most people can figure out what a foreign or unfamiliar word means just by situational placement in the text. And when you replace easy words like second, hour, mile, etc, it’s pretty obvious what their replacement means by the passage around it. The pacing was even and the story itself kept me interested in Rahel’s fate even when I wanted to shake her for doing such foolish things. I found this novel to have a perfect balance of emotion, action, plot, and information. DeLancey’s scenes were vivid and detailed and easily pulled me into the world of her creation.
While I’m familiar with the other books about Alsea, I honestly had no idea where this one fell until the three quarters of the way through. Fletcher DeLancey did a great job making this tale about Rahel, and not about the great characters from her other books that make a later appearance. The way I stayed absorbed to the life of Rahel Sayana from beginning to end was rare, and when I finished the book my first thought was “wow”.
While this wasn’t big issue for me, it did give me pause considering her other books. This was definitely not a romance novel. This was no human romance, or a case of Divine Tyrees (like her other books) Action adventure and coming of age? Yes. Internal Journey? Definitely. Sex is rarely described in the book, only skimmed a few times. And most of those times were with male Alseans. That being said, Alsean biology is the same for male and females, so it was hard to really feel like f/m sex. They are set up alien, obviously, but also remarkably female-seeming. (in human terms)
I also believe this book could have been a standalone novel, but clearly it is connected with the overlap of characters. A con is that if you wanted to be current on the history of Alsea, you’ve got to get through 5 other books first. Oh, and one last con, I don’t think it showed supreme leader in as favorable light as any of the other books. This may put people off who are familiar with the other books.
This book was easily one of the best I’ve read over the past few years. I love Rahel for all her strengths and weaknesses. She experienced worst of so many things we experience every single day and on some level I connect with her because of it. She was real and ‘human’ to me. And while Rahel Sayana may be a phoenix burning out and rising again from the ashes, this book is definitely a chameleon. It was a behemoth of experience, detail, and emotion. First leading me into a life’s story, then twisting and spinning me into a path of healing, before eventually morphing into a tale worthy of legends. It’s not often I’m left filled with a feeling of intense emotion and creative fullness after reading a novel, but I treasure the experience when it occurs. The Outcaste will now go on my favorite’s shelf, and for good reason.
Excerpt From Outcaste by Fletcher DeLancey
Every day, she came home from school, dusted the shop in a whirlwind of efficiency, and saved the swords for last. Those she would dust slowly, carefully, and with the reverence of a worshipper, dragging the ladder from one to the next. They became familiar friends to her, each with its own personality, and she made up stories about who had owned them and what sorts of adventures they had seen. This one had been owned by the Wandering King when he discovered Blacksun Basin, that one was used in the murder of the Mad Queen, and the one next to it was lost at sea during a shipwreck, only to wash ashore a hundred cycles later.
Each time a sword sold, she mourned the loss of a friend. The tragedy was only leavened by the eventual arrival of a replacement, a new sword she could dust and get to know and weave a story for. “It surely is beautiful crafting,” her brother said one day, staring with open envy at a sword they had just unpacked. “See how perfectly cut the inlays are? They look like they grew there. I have to use my magnifiers to see the seams. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that.”
She thought he was missing the point. The magic of the swords wasn’t the wood they were made of. It was the stories they contained. They were the swords of warriors.
Her brother laughed when she told him that. “These aren’t real swords, Rahel. Warriors have swords made of metal.”
“Then why doesn’t Mother make those?” Their mother was a renowned metalworker. If she could make something like these, Rahel did not understand why she wasn’t doing it.
He shrugged. “Crafting comes from inside. You have to want to make what you’re making, or it won’t be any good. I guess Mother doesn’t want to make swords.”
That was unfathomable.
For her thirteenth birth anniversary, she asked her mother to make her a real sword.
The night of her celebration, there was no long box waiting for her. And though she was two cycles older now and much too grown to cry, her pillow was wet that night.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781999702946
- Publisher: Heartsome Publishing (October 9, 2017)
Fletcher DeLancey Online
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Without A Front: The Producer’s Challenge and Without A Front: The Warrior’s Challenge were both similar to me. They were my favorites of Fletcher DeLancey of all her Alsea books before Outcaste. Perhaps I like the all so much because they prominently feature the same main character, Salomen Opah. She is strong and faces hardship with dignity and it reminds me a lot of Rahel. But make no mistake, Outcaste is Rahel’s story alone.
Note: I received a free review copy of Outcaste by Fletcher DeLancey. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site