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First Words: Final Lesson
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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In this children's fantasy, Shakyra Dunn begins to explore what it means to be a better her and truer her. Led by her intuitions and story to discover such virtues as love, friendship, understanding and humility, she must also seek courage, prudence, fortitude, temperance. Leilana's brother, Ennis, lacked these and died (in my opinion) for their lack.
Shakyra, the author, has a great adventure ahead of her. As does Leilana. Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics and the Gospels would be a great place for her to find clarity before the journey ahead.
Recent books I can recommend with strong, young heroines: Morgan Smith's A Spell in the Country, Madolyn Locke's Silent Love and Judith Rook's Planet Woman.
First Words: Final Lesson tells four different tales, all of which (well, except maybe one) could very well have been expanded into their own full-length adventures. In its current form, it’s hard to connect with anyone on any level, or get invested in the incidents that happen throughout. There’s a fire, a death and a poisoning, and yet, the consequences of these events, and the emotional depth of reactions from the different characters involved is sorely missing, mostly due to the major time jumps that occur from the end of each separate tale into the next.
Part 1 is about Leilana, a young girl who’s about to become the heir to the throne of her kingdom, which should have gone to her older brother Ennis until he succumbed to an illness that ignited his ability to use magic (which is illegal in this particular land). Upon finding a grimoire — aka a book of magic spells — Leilana becomes very interested in magic and the history of why it was banned in the first place.
Part 2 takes us to the land of Adrylis, where we meet the young prince Remiel. His boyish charm and ability to both hide in public without being recognized and befriend those who are less fortunate is quite enduring. One of these newfound freinds is another boy named Solus, whom Remiel takes under his wing when he finds out the boy really has no where else to go. Becoming fast friends, the two protect one another as best they can.
Part 3 moves to Magiten Academy, a school where kids with magical prowess go to learn (both regular everyday subjects as well as magic) before starting their trials in Adrylis. Here we meet Amiria and her friends, Lancett and Kindall, a couple of foolhardy boys who don’t take a whole lot seriously. These characters are eventually introduced to Leilana, a few months after finding the grimoire.
Part 4 takes us on a journey with Leilana’s brother Ennis to become a Warlord. He must travel the world in search of six totems from which he will gather and take to the Warlords of old to find out if he is worthy of their power.
As written, everything happens so fast, all of the events and character motivations are condensed into these little snippets that fail to expand on anything worthwhile. When Ennis ventures out on his quest, we get about a page of him collecting the totems, so we’re never invested in his growth or his potential. According to Chapter One of “The Final Lesson” (included with this book), Leilana and her friends are about to embark on their journey to track down their six totems, so having had a full novel that shows an important character doing this very thing would have added a nice juxtaposition to what happens with Leilana and her friends, and how each of them dealt with the obstacles they are sure to encounter.
I very much like the ideas that are presented, there are several characters (including Leilana, Amiria and friends) that are fun and enjoyable to hang out with, and after reading the first chapter of the The Final Lesson, I’m intrigued as to what Leilana’s journey will entail. But First Words: Final Lesson doesn’t live up to what could be (or what could’ve been). The book is just a textbook for events that happened in the past that a cohesive tale of magic, friendship and wonder.
The novella gives a nice prologue to her upcoming novel. The characters are introduced quite nicely and it gives you a feel for their personalities and a look into their relationships with others in their lives. The novella also gives you a small glimpse into what the world Shakyra Dunn has created and so far it is beautiful.
Reading this novella made me so hyped for The Final Lesson. I can't wait to read their adventures and see the rest of the world!