The Friday 56: A Conjuring of Light

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

A shout went out behind him, and the clatter of hooves as a carriage reared. The man clutching the reins spat at him in a language he’d never heard, but the words were threaded together just like spells, and the letters unraveled and rewove in Osaron’s head, taking on a shape he knew.

“Get out of the way, you fool!”

Osaron narrowed his eyes, reaching for the horse’s reins.

I’m not a fool,” he said, “I am a god.”

His grip tightened on the leather straps.

And gods should be worshiped.”

V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light is one of the best series conclusions I’ve read. If you like magic and phenomenal world-building, be sure to pick up the Shades of Magic series. Read my full review hereCover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “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.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

a-conjuring-of-light-by-v-e-schwabTitle: A Conjuring of Light
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic, #3
Pages: 624
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 21st 2017

      “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.”

swirl (2)

“He tried to rise–he had to get up, had to find his brother—but hands surged from the darkness, fought him, held him down against silk sheets, fingers digging into shoulders and wrists and knees, and the pain was there again, vicious and jagged, peeling back flesh, dragging its nails over bone.

V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light is an engrossing and heart-stopping conclusion to one of the most inventive fantasy series I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Schwab has crafted a complex and engaging world, one filled with magic that sunk its teeth into me from the very first page of A Darker Shade of Magic. In this final installment, Red Londen is under attack and Kell must face an enemy far more powerful than himself. Osaron has already taken control of one Antari, but he has his eyes set on Kell. The kingdom is buckling under the weight of Osaron’s power, people are giving in to the intruding whispers, unable to resist Osaron’s influence. A plan begins to form to take Osaron down, who is more apparition than man and thus harder to kill, but the cost may be far greater than anyone imagined.

I’ve really enjoyed all the characters’ arcs throughout this series. Brought up beside Prince Rhy, but invariably different, Kell has not quite belonged in his brother’s world. As an Anatari, Kell has been gifted with the kind of magic that others would kill for, but it has also made him a kind of prisoner. His dynamic with the King and Queen is complicated and at times heartbreaking. Kell, who has regarded them as family, discovers that he was a tool, a weapon used to protect the crown prince. There is a coldness between Kell and these two that never seems to thaw. Despite their missteps, Kell recognizes that his adoptive parents love him, maybe not in the way that he wants, but in the only way they know how. Kell’s unspoken loneliness is something that has always stood out to me. He is a prince, but has never quite felt like a son. He is an Antari, able to travel through worlds, but navigates these worlds very much alone. Holland was the first person he met who could truly understand him, but instead of a friend, he became a foe. But unlike Holland, whose choices have cut him off from building meaningful connections, Kell is unalterably tied to his brother Rhy and the enigmatic Lila. Where he once believed he must navigate the world alone, he comes to realize he doesn’t have to.

Lila has spent most of her life running. It is her coping mechanism, her way of protecting her heart from pain. She is arrogant, ambitious, and at times reckless. She’s convinced herself that she’s better off alone, that looking out for herself is the only way to live. But people like Kell and Alucard have managed to pierce the wall she’s built around herself and in this final novel, she must decide if running is something she still has to do. I was really happy to get more of the story from Alucard’s perspective. We’ve seen him mainly through Rhy and Kell’s eyes, which hold conflicting views of the aristocrat turned pirate. He isn’t a man used to being vulnerable, of waiting and asking for things he wants. He knows he still wants to be with Rhy, but is no longer the one in control. Alucard has caused pain, but has also been the target. Much like Lila, he has also been running, but has a chance to be the kind of person Rhy deserves.

Holland’s story is fraught with pain. He has been used, betrayed, and discarded. Despite everything he has done in the past, I found myself rooting for him. He may never be as noble and self-sacrificing as Kell, but he has his own brand of honor that is needed to overcome Osaron. A Conjuring of Light is undeniably Rhy’s book. It is a chronicle of his rise, of this once flippant prince shaking off the final bits of boyhood. It’s Rhy recognizing and accepting the weight of the crown upon his shoulders, of discovering that his life is not his own, but his people’s. My heart broke for Rhy more than any other character. I felt every doubt, every struggle, and every loss. But I also rejoiced in his triumphs, every brave act endeared him more to me and it was so satisfying to see all he had been through coalescing into a truly rewarding arc.

A Conjuring of Light managed to pull at my heartstrings more than the previous books. Schwab’s writing truly dazzles. I’m in love with every fight scene, which are sometimes elegant and other times messy, but always enthralling. Schwab has created a world that is easy to fall into and much harder to leave.

Rating: 5/5

★★★★★

The Friday 56, #105: A Darker Shade of Magic

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’re been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“Kell had lived in the palace since he was five. He first noticed the mark when he was twelve. He had spent weeks searching for the rune in the palace libraries. Memory.

He ran his thumb over the scar. Contrary to its name, the symbol wasn’t meant to help one remember. It was meant to make one forget.”

This week I was planning to share on excerpt from A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab, the second book in the Shades of Magic trilogy, but then I realized I never shared one for the first book. So for those unfamiliar with this series, here is an excerpt from A Darker Shade of Magic, the first book in the Shades of Magic series. You can read my full review of this one here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

Goodreads synopsis:

      “Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
      Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.
      Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.
      But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.”

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows Final

Title: A Gathering of Shadows
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic, #2
Pages: 512
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: February 23rd 2016

       “Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.
      In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
      But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.”

swirl (2)

“The command rang out, echoing through the chamber, and between his palms the air began to thicken and swirl into shadows as thick as smoke. It billowed forth, and in moments the room was engulfed in darkness.”

V.E. Schwab once again impresses with her knack for world building and her larger-than-life characters in A Gathering of Shadows, the highly anticipated sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic. The dust has settled, so to speak, in Red London, where Kell, now the only Antari, deals with the aftermath of his choice to save his brother Rhy. The life bond formed between the two means neither feels pain without the other one experiencing it. There’s a lot of love between these two characters though their personalities are often at odds. Rhy is all charm, smiles, and recklessness where Kell feels the weight of the world on his shoulders at every turn. They’ve always balanced each other out, but this bond puts a strain on their relationship. Resentment and anger underline their once effortless rapport, making both long for freedom from one another. Kell, once revered by those in Red London, now finds himself on the receiving end of suspicious looks. Four months ago a darkness descended and many lost their lives; and while no one quite understands what happened, they know that their own Antari had something to do with it. Kell also experiences distrust within his own family, and as someone who never quite felt like he belonged, this is truly heartbreaking.

A Darker Shade of Magic explored the different Londons that exist beside Kell’s own Red London; in this sequel, Schwab opens up the protagonist’s world. The Essen Tasch, or Elemental Games, are set to take place and magicians from the three known empires will gather in London to compete. The competition brings back Lila Bard, who has spent her time at sea in hopes of realizing her dream of owning and captaining her own ship. Lila is coming into her own power, just beginning to discover what she is truly capable of. For Lila, life is full of endless possibilities. She’s got confidence and skill in spades and she is constantly surprising those around her. But Lila is also trying to prove that she is more than a thief from Grey London and her ambition, while exciting, lends itself to attracting trouble and in a world that is unfamiliar, this can be her undoing. New faces are also introduced in this second book, most prominently is Alucard Emery, captain of the Night Spire. The captain rivals Prince Rhy when in comes to charms, but it is his past, full of many secrets, that has me wanting to know more about him.

I thoroughly enjoyed the magical competition in A Gathering of Shadows. Up until now, we’ve only seen magic as displayed by Antari and the Dane twins, so it was such a delight to see other magicians and how magic doesn’t have to be deadly in order to be a powerful force. That being said, this second book did not have a clear conflict like its predecessor, making it at times feel very much like a place holder.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

The Friday 56, #55: A Darker Shade of Magic

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join in every Friday, the rules are simple.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

 


“But magic that bound a person’s body or mind was not only forbidden–it was a capital offense. Those accused and convicted were stripped of their power, a fate some found worse than death in a world ruled by magic.”

V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic was such a delightful read and a must for fans of fantasy.

From my review:

“In Red London where magic flourishes and the kingdom prospers, Kell is unique. While those gifted in magic have the ability to manipulate one of the elements, as an Antari, Kell is able to manipulate them all. He also possesses the rare ability to travel from one world into another, for there is more than one London. Grey London, White London, and the mythical Black London all have their own dangers and it is Kell’s job to carry messages between the crowns. When a long forgotten artifact falls into his hands and is then stolen by the pickpocket Lila Bard, Kell must get it back and find a way to destroy it before the dark magic within it consumes him and destroys his home.” You can read my full review here.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade final for Irene

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic, #1

In Red London where magic flourishes and the kingdom prospers, Kell is unique. While those gifted in magic have the ability to manipulate one of the elements, as an Antari, Kell is able to manipulate them all. He also possesses the rare ability to travel from one world into another, for there is more than one London. Grey London, White London, and the mythical Black London all have their own dangers and it is Kell’s job to carry messages between the crowns. When a long forgotten artifact falls into his hands and is then stolen by the pickpocket Lila Bard, Kell must get it back and find a way to destroy it before the dark magic within it consumes him and destroys his home.

“But the thing about magic…is that it preys on the strong-minded and the weak-willed, and one of the worlds couldn’t stop itself. The people fed on the magic and the magic fed on them until it ate their bodies and their minds and then their souls.”

V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic is a story of adventure, family, and the thirst for power that resides in each of us. With its contrasting Londons, the novel explores each world’s relationship to magic and how none are truly separate from the others in consequence. Red London welcomes magic, but regulates its use, guarding against the darker forms. Grey London is much like our own world, without magic, where most have forgotten it existed at all. White London is a volatile place, where the people are willing to do anything to control magic. Black London has become a fable, a world that collapsed under the greed for more magic, a warning to those who seek a darker shade.

Raised alongside Prince Rye since he was a small boy, Kell is pulled between two different realities, one in which he belongs and another that says he doesn’t. Despite his extraordinary abilities and the awe that comes with it, Kell is not content and knows there is more to his past than the king and queen of his world are willing to tell him. Lila Bard, hailing from the streets of Grey London, longs for adventure, for more than living day-to-day, struggling to survive. While one fears the family he does have is an illusion, the other fears having one will weaken her. Kell’s good intentions and conscientiousness are nicely balanced with Lila’s bravado and cleverness.

Kell and Lila’s journey is not an easy one and while the two do not start off with the same goal, a mutual respect develops between the two over the course of the story that eventually has them working together. Evil characters like the Dane Twins, who rule White London, are a jarring example of magical corruption, whose vile acts will give the reader chills. If you are a fan of magical fantasy, you won’t regret picking up A Darker Shade of Magic which enchants from the very first page.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★