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Magda Lazarus has killed Adolf Hitler's pet wizard, the Staff, but not before the Staff stole a fragment of the powerful Book of Raziel and used magic to reconstitute a corrupted version that is now in the hands of the Reich. Dark Victory begins as the invasion of Poland is imminent, and Magda is trying to decide on her next course of action.
In the early chapters, it seemed that Dark Victory wouldn't be as compelling as Lady Lazarus. Magda's decision-making process is a large part of the problem. She has several choices: stay put and accept a dire fate, escape to safety, or use a dangerous magic to get information from the imprisoned demon Asmodel -- a magic that could make everything worse instead of better. It's understandable that Magda would have difficulty deciding what to do, but it has the side effect of making the narrative itself seem less focused and dynamic than that of Lady Lazarus. Magda is more fun when she's charging full speed ahead at a problem -- even if what she's doing is a bad idea. The other and smaller part of the issue, I think, is that it briefly seems that vampire politics will play a large role in the story. If there's one thing we urban fantasy readers have a surfeit of, it's vampire politics! (I'm pleased to report that this strand of the plot turns out to be much less prominent than it initially seems.)
The book becomes impossible to put down once Magda finally starts to act! This begins when she has the chance to meet Winston Churchill, and even more so when her sister is manipulated into going to Poland and Magda sets out to rescue her. Magda, Gisele, and Raziel wind up working with an underground resistance group there, using their special abilities to save as many people as possible, and later confronting Hitler himself at a stronghold fortified by dark magic. Michele Lang touches upon the horrors of the war but focuses more on the heroism of the resisters. It's compelling stuff, especially when Magda's powers enable some of Hitler's victims to strike at him from beyond. Finally, Magda faces that often-asked question: would you kill Hitler if you had the chance? Adding further tension to the book is the problem of Asmodel. It's often difficult for Magda to tell whether she's really doing the right thing or whether she's being maneuvered into serving Asmodel's own ends instead.
As for the secondary characters, Gisele is given further depth here, and Eva is largely absent but is involved in an important and hazardous mission that has profound effects on what Magda and Gisele are doing. Lang also introduces several sympathetic new characters in Dark Victory, most of them members of the resistance. The reader's affection for these characters raises the emotional stakes. The British angel, Albion, is awesome. Raziel, unfortunately, has become flatter. He seems more like a support character for Magda, always there to carry out his part in her plans, but indistinct as a person.
After the first few chapters, Dark Victory is a good read, in which Magda grows in her magical abilities and faces hard choices and horrific situations. I continue to be interested in what happens to her and her loved ones, and to what extent the course of history will be changed by her actions. This is a trilogy and will conclude with Rebel Angels, which I look forward to reading.
on June 21, 2013
Madga Lazarus' fight against Hitler and the demon dwelling inside him continues with her beloved former guardian angel, Raziel, beside her. She's forced to Poland, where Hitler's making in-roads and she must convince the Hashomers there is real danger they must fight. Magda's growing into the powers her lineage grants and must use any means necessary to save those she loves and any who stand in the evil Third Reich's way.
`Dark Victory' brings us back to Magda Lazarus, who learns more about her heritage and power from others than she ever did from her mother. Even though she's naïve about many things, she's been forced to grow up quickly. I loved seeing the different characters' growth and some of the new characters we meet. This point in history is a gruesome time and Ms. Lang has added a supernatural twist which only heightens the danger. The confrontation Magda has with Hitler and his demon is spellbinding and the meeting between Magda and Churchill (facilitated by the angel Albion) is intriguing. It's painful at times to see how Magda's choices affect her and others, but she's a complex and compelling character who I've grown to greatly respect.
Lady Lazarus series: Lady Lazarus (1), Dark Victory (2), Rebel Angels (3)