Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Shades of Magic: Books 1 and 2

A Darker Shade of Magic

Schwab is my most happy discovery of the year thus far.  Her books have been around a while longer, but I have only become acquainted with her compelling, magical writing recently, and I am so glad we have met.  My notes on Book 1:
  • What an intriguing opening!
  • The split narrative is used for optimal effect.  It made the book better.  As the plot climbed, I found myself going, "YES!  YES!!!"  I love that feeling.  There is one scene that I found myself breathless with excitement at the sheer beauty of how it came together, I thought: "This is a gift, Schwab, this scene is such a glorious gift."
  • Both main characters are interesting and I cared deeply about them, and fast.  Faster than anything I've read in months.  I also cared about the people they cared about very quickly.  The heroine, Lila, in particular, was an easy compare for Inej (Six of Crows), and Lila was so. much. more knowable and likable.  As a result of caring, there were some moments I felt heartbroken and healed.
  • The villains are memorable and formidable.
  • The world is so. darn. wonderful.  
  • Dialogue alternates between great and excellent.  It is funny.  It's not a Funny Book, but it's got the funny in there, to be sure.  I would re-read things aloud to savour them twice.
  • The writing is definitely above average, with some beautiful moments (but is not overly dense with poetic devices).
  • Colourful language is kept well in check, with countable cuss-words (2 x S and 2 x F, if you're asking).  The latter came in a temper-filled memory and another seriously tense moment; i.e. they're not thrown in for kicks, but they're there.
  • Sex is referenced and euphemistically described but there are no sex scenes.
  • There were very few obvious moves, but the chief among them led me to groan and then check myself, since it recovered and reinvented a trope in a way that made the expected different and more than okay.
  • There is sufficient closure to feel the book's story has reached its end but clearly room for the continuation of the series.
If you enjoyed Six of Crows and Throne of Glass, these are pretty much a sure bet -- only not as dark as the first or sensual as the second.   If the sound of strong characters in compelling fantasy sounds like you, you should check this out. 

A Gathering of Shadows
The calibre of this series does not wane whatsoever;
  • It has a fantastic start.
  • There are new characters and the new characters are grand.  The already-loved characters continue being superb.
  • The culture deepens and enriches the narrative further, in Book 2.
  • I got giddy giggles of anticipation in this. 
  • There was a withhold-and-reveal in Book 2 that reminded me a lot of Six of Crows in execution.
  • There is such a cocktail of delights page to page, midwayThe plotting then climbs so nicely to a climax cluster.  
  • There be pirates, and with them some colourful language (2 x S and 4 x F, by my count).
  • There are some steamy make-outs and historical intimacy between characters is implied.  Still no sex scenes.
  • Heads up: A character shares anti-religious sentiment. 
I always looked forward to reading these.  They deserve all the fan art circulating online. 
My (hardback) copy of A Conjuring of Light (Book 3) cannot arrive fast enough.  I really look forward to re-reading these with my daughters.
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