Narrator: Kate Reading, Michael Kramer
Series: Shades of Magic #3
Published by Tor Books on February 21st 2017
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Witness the fate of beloved heroes - and enemies.
THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED...
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.
WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.
This was by far the best book in the series. And for the life of me, I don’t have any thoughts coherent enough to write an actual review of any meaningful quality.
Before I attempt coherence, I’m going to share a story.
I was listening to this book on audiobook. I told one of my good friends & coworkers that she HAD to read this series. And, as any good friend of book blogger does, she went and bought them and started reading them right away. (My friend is awesome).
We went to carpool the other day when I was about 80% done with A Conjuring of Light, and I had been listening to it on the way to pick her up. She had JUST finished book 1. And she started talking all about how awesome A Darker Shade of Magic was and that she couldn’t wait to start the second book.
Then all of a sudden she realized that I hadn’t started driving after picking her up because I was crying. When she asked what was wrong, I just flailed at my phone and blubbered something not terribly useful about my book.
“What book are you reading?” she asked me.
“The third one.”
Her eyes got SUPER wide. As if she was shocked that this book could elicit such emotion.
I’ll be honest, with the way the rest of the series had gone, I didn’t really expect to be SO emotionally touched by this one either. Yes, the world is AMAZING. And the characters are SPECTACULAR. But the first two books mostly made me laugh or go “awww.” There were bits of stronger emotions, but nothing that really tugged on the heart strings.
But A Conjuring of Light was so much MORE.
And now I might stand half a chance to explain.
A Conjuring of Light started and never stopped.
The pacing was intense. The story was intense. The characters were intense. It was perfect. It was riveting. I had NO IDEA what to expect. And if I hadn’t had a small child to care for, I would not have STOPPED reading this book once I started it.
A Gathering of Shadows left us with one hell of a cliff hanger — and I am beyond glad that I was able to jump right into this one after finishing it. And no punches are spared. The blows just come one after another after another. I lost track of how many chapters in a row ended with me yelling “No!” or biting my nails (literally), or trying to throttle my phone because it just wasn’t getting through this fast enough.
I honestly don’t know how many breathers we actually got. There were just enough to keep me from being completely overwhelmed and losing the little bits of sanity I still have left.
The character development was phenomenal.
Okay, so the characters and their development have been GREAT throughout all of the books. And it’s hardly a surprise that in the trilogy’s finale we see that development put on steroids. But the characters that I fell in love with in previous books managed to dig their ways even deeper into my heart. And there were some that I hadn’t really formed an opinion about yet that BROKE my heart.
But I think the more interesting part was the development of everyone. We’ve got characters learning to use their skills in a different way than they’ve ever tried. We’ve got enemies breaking down barriers and working together. We’ve got people growing and maturing all over the place.
And none of them made me prouder than Rhy.
This actually surprised me a bit — Rhy had actually not been a favorite character of mine in the previous books. I liked him, sure, but I didn’t love him. Now I LOVE him. In all caps. And italics. He has earned a place in Michelle’s Hall of Great Characters. Which officially exists now. And so far consists of Rhy, Lila, Kell, and Alucard. At some point I’m sure it will gain some diversity.
Sacrifice was a big theme.
I’ll be honest, I’m not normally big fan of the heroic sacrifice schtick. But Schwab handled it beautifully. No one was stupid or out of line with it. It all made sense. It was all well-rationalized. And there was very little machismo about it — the sacrifices that ultimately were made were done so with real intention and genuine heroism, and not some misguided notion of honor or altruism.
I would LOVE to dissect this theme a bit more with this book in particular, but that would just get too close to spoiler territory. Suffice to say that the examples of this are all over the place, to varying degrees, and I loved every single one of them. And hated every single one of them.
Grrr, Schwab, why have you done this to me?!
I’m still blown away by the worldbuilding.
There are not enough words in the world to describe the perfection of Schwab’s worldbuilding.
Correction: there are not enough words in the worlds. Ha. Bad pun, sorry.
I fell in love with this series right off the bat because of the worldbuilding. And honestly, I keep being astonished/amazed by it, even after three books. It’s just so precisely thought out and understood. Honestly, I’m completely convinced that Red London and White London actually exist, and that we’re just stuck here in magicless Grey London. But maybe one day magic will come back! Right? RIGHT?!
In all seriousness, though, Schwab’s attention to detail astounds me. And more than that, her creativity with those details. At one point in this book we visit a black market that exists on a ship. And I honestly could have spent a whole book exploring the contents of that ship. And truthfully, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that Schwab had shorts (or at least ideas) for the stories behind a good deal of the content in that boat. Even though very little of it actually contributes to the plot. It was THAT tangible.
And the magic. Oh, the magic. The way it works. The exploration of its limitations. I half thought Schwab had written a plot she wouldn’t be able to find a way out of because it just seemed so impossible. But then the boundaries of reason were stretched and our capacity for amazingness was forced to stretch with it. And I believed every second of it.
I need to reread this whole series right away.
I seriously have the worst book hangover I’ve had in a LONG time. And I want to curl up with all three of these books and read them straight through and bask in their magnificence.
Maybe I should give myself a bit of distance first, lest I get lost and ne’er return.
Conclusion: Read them now!