A Conjuring Of Light (Shades Of Magic Book 3) by V.E. Schwab (book review).

May 28, 2017 | By | Reply More

‘A Conjuring Of Light’ is the third book in the ‘Shades Of Magic’ series, so if you haven’t read the first two check them out first.

Osaron has used Holland’s antari body to take him to Red London. Can Lila and Kell find a way to stop Osaron from destroying Red London? Meanwhile, in Grey London, things that shouldn’t be possible are starting to occur. Can the balance of power be returned or will the world be destroyed?

This book was a very good conclusion to the series. It took the story to a new level with Osaron trying to conquer Red London, that added new depths to the story which intensified the plot, while simultaneously challenging the characters in ways that made them progress and complete complex and meaningful character journeys. Without providing any detail, Kell, Lila, Rhy and Holland all had meaningful character journeys, that were well-developed and concluded by this final instalment. In particular, a considerable amount of attention was devoted to telling Holland’s back story giving details of the events in his childhood and life before the Dane Twins were in power in White London, that serve to explain how he has become the person he was in ‘A Darker Shade Of Magic’ as well as the person who he is in the present narrative of ‘A Conjuring Of Light’. This significantly enriches Holland as a character, in addition to exploring how blurred the lines are between good and evil. Despite the fact that Holland has done some awful things, this back story makes the things he has done relatable which is quite a scary thing to contemplate.

The other characters were, as usual, well-developed. As discussed above, the intense plot really helped to develop and test the characters, leaving them all in places they deserve to be. Similarly, the bond between Rhy and Kell was explored further in this book, once again, in a very engaging manner. Similarly, the relationship between Lila and Kell developed in increasingly interesting ways as well. It’s very hard to provide new and interesting commentary on the subject, that could justify how well-written it is, as it’s hard to keep re-inventing words to do it justice. Schwab is excellent at unconventional relationships and this book is no different in that respect.

Schwab’s writing is very beautiful. Just the way she strings words together in a sentence has an almost poetic quality to it. I think it’s something I’ve not given enough attention to, with so many other things to talk about, but it really adds an extra layer to the story.

In a similar vein, the Arnesian language was very important to this book. It was used to emphasise key moments within the tale. Also, the antari commands played quite a significant role, which is difficult to discuss without spoiling the plot, but they were poignant and at times comical As usual, the world-building was highly immersive. It was interesting the way Red London became an increasingly dark place within this book and how that really impacted heavily on the mood of the characters throughout much of the book. Red London is very important to many of the characters mainly Kell, Rhhy and Alucard, so to see their home changed so evocatively added significantly to the depth of the story.

The pirate theme is also continued from the second book, ‘A Gathering Of Shadows’. I shall not disclose how these circumstances come to pass, but they lead to Alucard, Lila, Kell, Holland and a few others going on a voyage on a ship, which takes up a sizeable portion of the plot. It is a well-constructed balance of entertaining and intense. There are some very well-crafted fight scenes throughout the book, particularly throughout the voyage.

I think the most significant thing that shines out about this book and the series as a whole is the fact that it appeals to a collective of niche audiences, by doing many things that are either hard to do in writing or that aren’t widely done very well. For example, the writing in this series is of a very high quality, the language choice throughout is consistently well-considered and adds a great deal of value to the story, notably it has a poetic resonance to it. Yet, despite the fact that it is high fantasy, it is high fantasy without many of the formalities known to high fantasy worlds, particularly those that also fall under the genre of epic fantasy. They are often big volumes, with often with intricate magic systems and complex maps that tell tales that chart the journeys of heroes. Yet what Schwab writes is very accessible in the sense that you don’t need to go in to the book with theoretical knowledge of magic systems, as it educates you to what you need to go as you go along. While her language is very beautiful, it is not fancy in a way that would require the novice reader to simultaneously be reading a copy of the dictionary in order to understand the narrative.

Furthermore, it is a trilogy that is very much about people. The characters are so intricately carved that they are almost not really characters, but people. The main factor that I think makes this work so well, is the fact that Schwab tells the story in a way that portrays the characters in such a way that the reader can see why they have done the things they do, even when those things are bad things. All of Schwab’s characters have done bad things, but all of them have done them for very specific reasons and there are back stories to those things that they have done. These back stories are gradually shared with us throughout the course of the trilogy. This is notably the case in ‘A Conjuring Of Light’ with Holland. Ultimately, Schwab makes the reader understand what the character intends by the things that they do, in order to help us see it from their point of view, even in circumstances where we may not agree with them or may never do the things they do ourselves, it is still made relatable why they do the things they do.

In fact, this is so much the case that I was highly surprised when I found out recently that this series is categorised as adult fantasy as, due to the heavy character focus, I had assumed it was young adult fantasy, as the exploration of emotions and people therein is akin to that of the YA genre. Overall, it was a phenomenal conclusion to a brilliant trilogy. I would recommend it if you’ve enjoyed the first two, it is a wonderful and very satisfying conclusion. My only regret is that I want more time with these characters. Despite the fact that ‘A Conjuring Of Light’ was extremely long, which I was very happy with, as I could have gone on reading it for much longer, I’d still have liked to read more about them.

Rebecca Thorne

May 2017

(pub: TOR. 624 page ebook 2597kb. Price: $ 6.16 (US). ASIN: B01N9Q9PJA. Hardback: Price: $25.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-76538-746-2)

check out website: www.tor.com

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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