Series: Darker Shade of Magic #3
Published by Tor Books on February 21st, 2017
Genres: Adult, 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.
Writing reviews for your favourite books is difficult, which is why I have a hard time accurately expressing my feelings for A Conjuring of Light. One one hand, A Conjuring of Light was a masterpiece of action, magic, and romance. On the other hand, I feel incredibly biased towards this book, because I justify my 5 stars largely due to 1) feels and 2) having liked A Conjuring of Light better than A Gathering of Shadows which I awared 4.5 stars. Do you see my problem? Technically, A Conjuring of Light would’ve been a 4.5-star read, but by giving it 5 stars, I’d like to acknowledge that the issues I had with A Gathering of Shadows have disappeared into thin air in the final instalment. So now, let me introduce you to my feels.
Magic ran between them like a current, a cord, and he wondered who she would have been if she’d stayed in Grey London. If she’d never picked his pocket, never held the contents ransom for adventure.
Maybe she would never have discovered magic.
Or maybe she would have simply changed her world instead of his.
Well, I can tell you something for sure: I’d have missed out on a unique, epic, and swoon-worthy adventure if I hadn’t picked up A Darker Shade of Magic a couple of years ago. And it all started with my fascination for Kell’s coat. I enjoyed the first book, but was missing some more character depth and background. I enjoyed the second book, which improved in character-building, but at the expense of the plot. I enjoyed the third book, which got both of those right.
➽ The lone female lead: You might remember that the characterization of Lila Bard sparked somewhat of a controversy in A Gathering of Shadows. Some thought she was a badass, others thought she was an egocentric little shit who only looked out for her own good. I belonged to the latter group. In A Conjuring of Light, however, Lila Bard is a lot more mature and therefore likable. She comes across as more modest and more considerate of others, whilst not losing her hard edge, impulsive nature, and selfish core. She’s still Lila, but she goes back to being that spitfire everyone adored in A Darker Shade of Magic, leaving that borderline sociopathic phase from A Gathering of Shadows behind. What I missed in this final instalment was closure on her past. Schwab attempted as much with Kell, but the real mystery for me was Lila View Spoiler »and who had cut out her eye, perhaps to protect her? Well, I’d love to know! « Hide Spoiler, and I still have so many questions now.
“You know, Miss Bard, there is such a thing as being sharp enough to cut yourself.”
Lila smiled, as if it were a compliment.
➽ The magician, the prince, and the privateer: Now, Kell, on the other hand, has always been my one and true favourite. The misunderstood little magician with a constant scowl on his face will never seize to amaze me. Being the perhaps most selfless character in the series, Kell undergoes some great character development. In a way, it is pecular that such a selfless, loyal character as Kell has found someone I consider his exact opposite, but perhaps this is the special feature of Kell’s and Lila’s bond. Another character Kell shares a special bond with is Rhy, who certainly wasn’t spared his fair share of suffering in this book. The storyline forces Rhy to grow beyond his own horizons as an individual and as a royal. A Conjuring of Light proves to be his greatest trial yet, and it requires bravery, selflessness, and a spark of royalty to march the path cut out for him. Why, even Alucard has his moments of genuine grit. Though reduced too much to his romantic notions, Alucard plays an important role in the story. I missed some of that old, independent spark he had, but perhaps this is also part of his character development: Adjusting to the space he takes up in Rhy’s life. Having the squad together for this final instalment gave me so much joy, even though my babies had a rough time. I love books that put their characters to the test, which is something Schwab excels at. Prepare for the feels.
“What are we drinking to?”
“The living,” said Rhy.
“The dead,” said Alucard and Lila at the same time.
“We’re being thorough,” added Rhy.
➽ Holland, my precious: Yeah, rememeber how I said Kell was my favourite? Scratch that, because while this might have been true before A Conjuring of Light, this book changed everything. He’s my special little munchcake, so he gets his own bullet point. Schwab has always hinted at it but has never shown it as dominantly as in this book: Holland is a masterpiece of a morally grey character. He has blood on his hands but it hasn’t left his heart unstained. He was beared suffering but also influced suffering. He has been enslaved to evil and unleashed evil, but he was never truly evil. Holland cares. It is one of revelations I cherished most about this book and this series as a whole. I love the whole cast – wicked Lila, scowly Kell, charming Rhy, and snarky Alucard – but Holland outshines them all.
➽ The villain: Osaron is another gem of Schwab’s creativity. A manifestation of dark magic that thinks itself a man, a king, a god. Villains which seem to be unbeatable are the best of their kind, as they induce a genuine anxiety within both the characters and the readers. Villains which seem to think they are doing the world a favour with their existence are also my favourite kind of villain. What I missed perhaps was a more complexity with regard to Osaron’s thoughts and statements. He was a great villain but a repetitive one. This is critique on a very high level, though, because few authors have the extent of Schwab’s skills.
➽ Plot: If you thought the sequel contained a lot of filler material until the actual juiciness commenced, you’ll find that the last book is nothing like its predecessor. A Conjuring of Light dives straight into the thicket of the plot without a fuss. The first 100 pages contain as much action as the last 100 pages of A Gathering of Shadows. At a heart-stopping pace, the storyline jumps from one key scene to another, with little filler chapters inbetween to occasionally give the reader time to breathe. There were one or two POVs I wasn’t interested in, like Nasi’s and Ned Tuttle’s, and while one was redundant, the other turned out to be of relevance. This book wraps up combat, adventure, and politics into one neat knot. So, fast-paced? Check. Action-packed? Check. Gripping plot? Check. Lots of interesting subplots? Check. Politics? Check. Sprinkles of swoon-worthy romance? Check.
➽ World-building and writing: These are two of several reasons Schwab is one of my auto-buy authors. She is not one for half-hearted world-building. If she created a setting, she does it thoroughly. It seemed like we had already seen plenty of the world in the previous instalments. Even in the last book, though, Schwab still expand her world-building for this series. This book doesn’t wander beyond the borders that have been established. Rather, A Conjuring of Light delights with undiscovered places, like a floating black market. The tool Schwab uses, besides her limitless imagination, to create these unique settings that seem to jump off the pages is her writing. Schwab’s writing is, was, and always has been elegant, and eloquent, and a piece of written art. Though unique in style, her prose is right up there with the beautiful prose of Marie Rutkoski’s and Laini Taylor’s.
Schwab delivers an epic showdown. She delivers all the feels on a silver platter, which overrode the small issues I had. A Conjuring of Light is the firework-finale to an exciting series that was an adventure from start to finish. With regard to fleshed-out characters, adrenaline-inducing plot, creative and extensive world-building, and magnificent writing, the Darker Shade of Magic series is simply one of a kind.
What was the word for parting?
That was it.
Until another day.