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The Last Days of Magic: A Novel Hardcover – March 1, 2016
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From the Publisher
Patricia Bracewell Reviews The Last Days of Magic
Photo credit: Christine Krieg
Patricia Bracewell grew up in California, where she taught literature and composition before embarking upon her writing career. She holds an M.A. in English literature, and her historical research has taken her to the United Kingdom, France, and Denmark. She has two grown sons, and she lives with her husband in Oakland, California.
Mark Tompkins’s dark fantasy novel, The Last Days of Magic, is set in a world riven by plague, famine, war, religious fervor, and unbridled superstition. This roiling medieval stew is peopled by characters drawn from history, myth, legend, and, astoundingly, from the most ancient books of the Bible. Fourteenth-century Europe—and Ireland in particular—is the battleground for a conflict fought between ancient magical beings and the powerful human institutions of church and state that seek to exterminate them.
Biblical quotations sprinkled throughout the book provide a cunning authenticity to the mythos here: that the goblins, faeries, witches, demons, and sorcerers of legend are the rebellious angels of Genesis who were cast down to earth to walk among—and mate with—mortals. These magical beings have been driven to their final stronghold, and Richard II of England, with the backing of the Vatican, is set to confront them. His two invasions of Ireland, his war leaders, and his allies are pulled from the pages of history, while the Sidhe, who are in alliance with the Celtic lords to defy the English king, spring from Ireland’s rich mythology. Armed with grimoires and incantations, as well as more conventional medieval weapons, both sides struggle for supremacy in a war that started before time began.
There is no quarter given here by anyone, and Tompkins does not shy away from portraying the harsh realities of the fourteenth century in brutal detail. Hatred, greed, lust, and cruelty are rife among mortals and magical beings alike. Tenderness, compassion, loyalty, courage, and sacrifice are here, too, but no one is above being seduced into treachery and betrayal.
Tompkins’s canvas and cast are sprawling, and his sly portrayal of some very familiar historical figures attests to considerable research. He has plundered the dark rumors that have drifted down to us through the centuries—of royals dabbling in forbidden, mystical rites—in a way that adds a beguiling veracity to his fantasy and makes for a most satisfying read.
Praise for The Last Days of Magic
"A fantastical treat."
“Reading The Last Days of Magic is like playing a well-constructed video game. There’s a fantastic world . . . and an exciting storyline. Set as a battle between wild-and-free ancient Magic and aggressive Religion bent on absolute control, the action focuses on Ireland, designated as the last place on Earth where real magic (known as Ardor) still flourishes in its natural form. . . . An honest, beautifully detailed book and an entertaining read.”
—Diana Gabaldon, The Washington Post
“The Last Days of Magic is intricate, bold and memorable long after you put it down. It succeeds in bringing magic and mythology to life and . . . delivers a shimmer of optimism and the possibility that magic is not quite dead.”
—New York Daily News
“A heady brew of Celtic and Biblical mythology with late medieval political intrigue and warfare. . . . Tompkins combines deft characterization with treachery, battle, magic, and hints of Dan Brown.”
“Simultaneously sweeping and intricate, reaching all the way back to the Dead Sea Scrolls and all the way forward to now, Tompkins’s amazing debut novel conjures an epic battle for the soul of Ireland. Filled with papal machination and royal intrigue, magic and mayhem, faeries, Vikings, legates, kings and queens, angels and goddesses, this is one wild and breathless ride.”
—Karen Joy Fowler
“Plundering the treasure chest of human myths, from mysterious biblical giants to ferocious Celtic faeries, Tompkins has created a fantasy adventure with the shifting perspectives of dreamscape. A novel rich and strange.”
“A wild grab bag of myth, history, folklore, and the fantastical, The Last Days of Magic is the perfect read for a frozen evening by the fire or a summer night in firefly country. It fills Ireland with blood, monsters, and witchcraft, and fans of Deborah Harkness and Erin Morgenstern will delight in it.”
—Maria Dahvana Headley
“A tightly wound adult fantasy epic, an engrossing thriller that doesn’t skimp on historical detail. . . . While there’s enough worldbuilding here to support a whole series, Tompkins demonstrates you don’t need a multivolume saga to achieve lifelike detail and epic scope.”
“Tompkins has woven together a beautiful tapestry, the warp and weft a tumultuous crossing of pagan faith and Christian fervor. . . . I highly recommend this book to any fan of epic fantasy.”
—San Francisco Book Review
“An epic adventure . . . If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, then this will certainly delight you. One of the best aspects of this book is that there are wonderful female characters. . . . All of the different stories are woven together to create a rich tapestry of Ireland and a time gone by.”
—Pondering the Prose
“The Last Days of Magic reminds me why I started to read fantasy. Read it and get lost in the green woods of Eire and in the mist of legends that still permeate Irish hills.”
“A half-goddess, a Vatican mercenary, kings, queens, warriors, and faery creatures battle for control of Ireland in this historical fantasy adventure. . . . Tompkins creates an intriguing world stocked with colorful characters and rich with biblical and mythological allusions.”
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.3 pounds
- Hardcover : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0525429530
- ISBN-13 : 978-0525429531
- Dimensions : 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
- Publisher : Viking (March 1, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,386,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I continued to plow through and read it to the end in frustration and annoyance as the above statement could not be more false. There is absolutely nothing honest about this book, it is 100% complete fiction. Fantastical fiction. If one is really stretching it could by some be considered historical fiction as historical figures are mentioned but as they are portrayed as fantasy characters I would not classify it as such. Like a smoker that once he quits bemoans the evils of tobacco, the author reads like a excommunicated Catholic that cannot resist slandering the Vatican, Pope, Priests and in general all things Catholic. The book is very poorly organized, it jumps back and forth by centuries, months, decades, complete confusion. Threads are started and never finished. I gave it 2 stars because I did read it through until the end, if it were truly unfortunate I would not have and it would have been only one star. I won't recommend it to anyone in its present form, it would need a complete rewrite. I would suggest if the author wants to completely falsify so much with regards to historical individuals, rename the characters in the book so that they do not share the names of actual people that have once lived. Then straighten out the path, better organize the timeline so that the book flows in order. And either get over the Catholicism hatred or again, rename the completely fictionalized religion with a fictional name.
Top reviews from other countries