- Series: Shades of Magic (Book 3)
- Hardcover: 624 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (February 21, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765387468
- ISBN-13: 978-0765387462
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 2 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 313 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Conjuring of Light: A Novel (Shades of Magic) Hardcover – February 21, 2017
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"Flawless prose...the bittersweet conclusion is a fitting one for a fantastic,emotionally rich series that redefines epic." ―Publishers Weekly, starred review, on A Conjuring of Light
"Desperate gambits, magical battles, and meaningful sacrifice make this a thrilling read.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review, on A Conjuring of Light
"Adventure beckons, and Schwab's smart, exhilarating story doesn't let go until the very end. And, not even then." ―Shelf Awareness for Readers on A Conjuring of Light
"The book is still filled with incident and emotion, with difficulty and heartbreak and anger. And it frankly feels subversive." ―NPR on A Gathering of Shadows
"[This has] all the hallmarks of a classic work of fantasy. Its plot is gripping. Its characters are memorable. [Its setting] is otherworldly yet believable. Schwab has given us a gem of a tale...This is a book to treasure." ―Deborah Harkness, New York Times bestselling author of The All Souls trilogy
"Full of magic, intrigue, adventure, deception, a bit of piracy...this will engage both adult and young adult fantasy readers alike.” ―Booklist on A Darker Shade of Magic
About the Author
VICTORIA (V.E.) SCHWAB is the author of the NYT bestselling Shades of Magic series, as well as a number of MG and YA novels, including This Savage Song. She has been called "the heir to Diana Wynne Jones." Her dynamic work has caught the attention of major TV and film studios.
Schwab has a Masters degree in Art History from the University of Edinburgh. She currently lives in Nashville, TN, but frequents Edinburgh.
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And this was definitely better than book two, though, at least to me, probably not as good as book one. If you are a fan of the series, definitely read it. If you were put off by book two, I'd still encourage you to read this one -- it is much better, plus you get some resolution. If you haven't started the series at all, go back to book one. This won't make the least bit of sense without it. (Also there are minor spoilers for books one and two here.)
There aren't really any new characters introduced here. All the major players were in books one and two. They may have had minor roles in the previous books (e.g., some sailors) but they are familiar faces. (I kind of think the second book, in addition to having the magic tournament, was an excuse to introduce a bunch of minor players for a side-plot that occurs near the end of this book.) Anyway, our main characters are Kell, an Antari (basically a top-level magic user) who has been adopted into the royal family of Arnes (where a parallel London exists), Lila, a thief from this book's equivalent of our world, Rhy, Kell's adoptive brother, Holland, Kell's Antari nemesis from yet another parallel London, and Alucard, a noble from Arnes who has been a mentor to Lila, an adversary to Kell, and a lover to Rhy.
I'll be honest, I didn't like Holland in the previous books. I think we weren't supposed to. We find out a lot more about him, about what's been driving him, here, and he becomes much more sympathetic. Holland's backstory is a good way to work in character development in a book with no new characters. (We also get a little background on Rhy's parents, as they get a few POV scenes. I found it difficult to identify with Emira, Rhy's mother, but Maxim, his father, was a bit easier to understand. I am going to have to take these bits about them and go back and think about their parts in books one and two now, to see if their actions make more sense. It is a little odd placing these bits of information here, near the end of the series, with Rhy really coming into his own. But if you like character studies, there is something for you here.)
I'm going to take a detour here and talk about what I didn't like. There were a couple of mysteries hinted at in earlier volumes that weren't resolved to my satisfaction. We learned earlier on that Lila was missing an eye and had a glass eye, but we never find out the circumstances surrounding the loss of her eye. We can speculate based on what we find out about her abilities in this book, but that is not quite the same as getting actual answers. Also, Kell wonders a lot about his past in the previous books; even his name comes from initials carved into his arm (KL). The speculation about Kell's past is at its highest point when he is on the outs with the royal family in Arnes in book two, but he gets a little more information here and then just kind of drops it. It's almost like the author remembered she hadn't handled this at the last minute and inserted the bit where he is given key information at the last minute. It's not really believable to me that someone who spent all of book two feeling put out that he had basically been used as a possession by his adoptive family, never allowed to leave the city, etc., suddenly accepts the Arnesian royals and forgets about everything else. In the scope of things, I guess these are minor, but they stand out to me, nonetheless.
Anyway, another thing I didn't care for was the main antagonist (Osaron). Although he does have some flaws that are, of course, exploited by the good guys, he is just too one-dimensional for me. He is a creature of magic and although it is tempting to read human motivations in him, he doesn't really have human characteristics. (On the other hand, I generally like the strategies the "good guys" come up with to deal with him. There are some successes -- including by members of the royal guard, priests, and other everyday people, not just the powerful main protagonists. But there are also some failures.)
One final complaint: at multiple points in the book, an object that was desperately needed by the characters to further the plot was mentioned. Once, it was a map. Another time, it was a particular artifact (the name of which escapes me). The map, at least, had been mentioned going all the way back to book one, though Lila, to whom it used to belong, didn't know what its purpose was. But in any case, each time the existence of such an object was mentioned, some character knew exactly where to find one. (One could make a similar argument about some rings found by Kell at the equivalent of a magic flea market. Although in that instance, he didn't even know what he needed and it still fell into his lap.)
What I did like: I was just more interested in reading this book than book two. I got through it a lot faster, chose to read instead of doing other things, etc. That is nearly always a good sign for me. Events surrounding Holland kept me guessing, too. Holland was actually a big strength for me in this book. He's a tragic character, but he and Kell are also stand-ins for their respective societies' treatment of magic and Antari and the struggle to survive. Holland knows more but he had to know more to get by. He's broken inside by what he's had to do, but he retains a bit of the idealism or optimism of his past.
A lot more was at stake in this book than just bragging rights for a tournament winner, and that was also appreciated. Plus, we get to see a little more of the world here. (What we see fits nicely with what we already know about Arnes and the surrounding lands and sea.) Despite some heroic efforts, everyone takes losses.
Other aspects of the book -- the writing style, the worldbuilding, etc. -- fit right in with everything developed in the previous two volumes. There are a few made-up words, but they generally fall under two categories (1) describing things that don't exist in our world or (2) activate spells (e.g., for the Antari to travel), so these don't bother me overly much. Other than that, honestly, the writing is not so noticeable. It simply fades to the background as it does its job of telling the story.
Even though I had a lot of issues with this book, I'm inclined to go easy on it as far as a star rating goes. I feel that it does need more stars than I gave book two, but not as many as I gave book one, and that leaves a 4. This is probably more of a 3.5 for me, but I'll round up.
I adored A Darker Shade of Magic when I first visited the four Londons of V.E. Schwab's world. It quickly made my list of must-read fantasies. Then came A Gathering of Shadows and all hell broke loose. So much happened and so fast that I was left in a daze upon finishing and forced to wait for what seemed like an eternity until A Conjuring of Light released.
Honestly, I was dreading the release a bit because it meant the end of the Shades of Magic series and I wasn't ready for that. I'm still not ready and I've already read it. So right, the book. Was it good?
Do you really need to ask me that?
I'll start by saying that while A Gathering of Shadows was crazy action and all sorts of things happening at once, A Conjuring of Light slowed things down a bit but not in a bad way. Loose ends needed to be tied up and I think of the three books, this was the most emotional both from the story perspective as well as reading it.
AGOS left off on a major cliffhanger that's quickly addressed at the beginning of ACOL but that's not the worst thing the gang has to deal with this time around. Where the book lacked some of the action of previous installments, it more than made up for it with the relationships between all the characters. Everyone has a part to play and are forced to make heartbreaking decisions that had me flying from one page to the next.
Goodness, this is hard without spoiling something from a previous book.
So the big bad from Black London has decided to take over a new world and while it's a battle of who will come out on top at the end of the day, there's a lot of backstory dropped into this one that you don't see in previous books. Holland, for example, gets a whole damn history written for him and I was internally bawling (just wait, the tears broke through by the end). He's a character that I loved to hate in ADSOM, then he began redeeming himself (marginally) in AGOS, and finally came around in ACOL.
Though he can't hold a candle to my ships. Last book we met Alucard and I fell in love with an unavailable "privateer" (I mean, Kell is my one true love so that's alright, I'll fight Lila). The sailor and Rhy needed a happy ending and I was screaming every few chapters because it was constantly under attack. There were moments I may have had a minor freak out. No big deal.
Those two had the biggest struggle of my ships. To be honest, I expected more with Lila and Kell but the two had that unspoken relationship where you know they're a thing but nothing is ever said. It comes through their actions. They did relatively well throughout the whole book, though had their respective personal struggles as well as balancing the dynamic of the entire group.
Somehow I've kept it together this far but just give me a moment. I have to talk about the ending.
First, every time I see the word Anoshe I start tearing up (and yes, that includes when I typed it). But it's nothing compared to when I reached that first conclusion of the story. You know, that moment when everything is (relatively) alright and what's coming up is the wrap-up, the conclusion to the conclusion.
I stopped reading, 17 pages to go. And I sat there, fighting the tears and the lump in my throat because somehow all those emotions snuck up on me. I don't cry very often, like ever really. And never over a book.
Almost ruined the pages with tears, y'all. Moved it just in time.
And so I picked up the book once more and I read those last 17 pages and closed it, completing the end of an extraordinary fantasy series. I have never had such a strong reaction to a series ending. Ever. And I'm not sure I will again.
Don't let these books go to the wayside. If you haven't started the series and decided to read this review anyway, I'm very confused but alright, now go read them! And if you're putting off ACOL... I understand. You'll likely never be ready for the end but know that you're not alone in that. And I don't think there's anything else I can truly say as my heart hurts too much to put those feelings in words. I'll just leave you with one that, if it holds no meaning now, it soon will.
Most recent customer reviews
Characters. As always, Schwab, brings up the amazing characters we grew to love in the first two novels.Read more