Title: A Conjuring of Light (2017)
Series: Shades of Magic – Book 3
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Extent: 624 pages
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Londons fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike.
The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies.
A Conjuring of Light, unsurprisingly, is probably my most anticipated release of the year. I have been completely enamoured by the characters and the magic ever since I picked up A Darker Shade of Magic last year, and the ending in A Gathering of Shadows just about killed me. While this series has some flaws, there’s just something about it that pulls me in and transports me into a whole new world when I’m reading it. It’s pure escapism.
Unlike the previous books in this series, A Conjuring of Light starts right in the middle of the action and wastes no time diving into the plot. You don’t really get a chance to rest as the protagonists and villains gear up for that final confrontation. Fortunately, we’re gifted smatterings of humour in the midst of all the chaos, thanks to the banter between the characters:
“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.
One of my favourite things about the Shades of Magic series is for sure the magic. I’ve always been a fan of more… scientific or logical magic, shall we say, and I think Schwab has developed a world that’s actually consistent. In this way, she forces her characters to take the hard way out, never once making it easy for them that victory actually feels impossible in some moments. Her writing, too, is smart and snappy as always, perhaps more action-packed than usual due to the plot.
Yet despite the world-building, despite the magic, despite the writing… the characters are what truly shines throughout this whole series and particularly in this book:
- Kell’s concern for Rhy is extremely touching and I really appreciate that it was reciprocated in equal measure — despite the difficulties that these two have, they are unquestionably brothers and would do absolutely everything to ensure that each other is safe.
- Rhy has really, really grown. I’ve always liked him but I didn’t love him until here; he really took charge and ‘came of age’, so to speak.
- Emira and Maxim, the King and Queen, played a bigger role in this book. I particularly appreciate Emira’s dedication to being a mother (as opposed to just a queen) and Maxim’s dedication to being a king (as opposed to just a father) — it provided a very interesting contrast that made me think.
- Holland’s life is so, so tragic. I just want to wrap him up in a warm, thick blanket and give him a cuppa so he could finally breathe.
- Lila has had to be a badass in a different way in ACOL. I’m so proud of her for rising to that challenge and finally developing some… attachments.
- Kell and Lila, oh my god.
I really only have one major gripe with ACOL: while it’s pretty thick, it avoids answering some questions I have about the characters even though it has plenty of chances for doing so. Instead, that space is taken by extraneous POVs from tertiary characters that I don’t think really added anything to the plot. I get that loose ends can be ‘realistic’, but I want answers, damn it!
“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”
I’d say this, however: that ending is just about as perfect as I think it could be. It’s exactly what I imagined for the characters and yet still unfolded in a way that pleasantly surprised me. In the end, this whole series has been such a wonderful, magical ride — I know I’d be rereading it again and again in years to come.