Book Review – The Golden Enclaves

This is it – the third and final book of Naomi Novik’s Scholomance series! The Golden Enclaves (paid link) picks up immediately after that heart-stopping conclusion to book 2. You can find my other reviews for this series here:

I read this as an e-book.

Here is the blurb:

The one thing you never talk about while you’re in the Scholomance is what you’ll do when you get out. Not even the richest enclaver would tempt fate that way. But it’s all we dream about, the hideously slim chance we’ll survive to make it out the gates and improbably find ourselves with a life ahead of us, a life outside the Scholomance halls.

And now the impossible dream has come true. I’m out, we’re all out–and I didn’t even have to turn into a monstrous dark witch to make it happen. So much for my great-grandmother’s prophecy of doom and destruction. I didn’t kill enclavers, I saved them. Me, and Orion, and our allies. Our graduation plan worked to perfection: we saved everyone and made the world safe for all wizards and brought peace and harmony to all the enclaves of the world.

Ha, only joking! Actually it’s gone all wrong. Someone else has picked up the project of destroying enclaves in my stead, and probably everyone we saved is about to get killed in the brewing enclave war on the horizon. And the first thing I’ve got to do now, having miraculously got out of the Scholomance, is turn straight around and find a way back in.

I did enjoy this final book in the Scholomance series overall. However, I felt like it wasn’t quite what I had hoped for in the conclusion to this series. Beware, there may be some spoilers below.

While it was interesting to see what the rest of the magical world looked like outside of the Scholomance, it also lacked the same feel as the earlier books. I enjoyed seeing how the students of magic went about their days with classes interspersed with danger. This story was bigger than the Scholomance, though. But then I also felt like it changed the relationship between El and Orion and made it less satisfying than it had been in book 2.

The revelation about the price that must be paid to create an enclave was one of the best parts of this book. The magicians knew they must keep the terrible truth secret, but at the same time, many of them knew and were willing to force someone to pay that price.

I felt that the final conclusion scenes of this series were rather anti-climactic. Both sides postured and threatened, and then nothing happened. They figured out a solution and then that was it. The tension that the prophecy and the danger had built fizzled for me. Still, I mostly enjoyed the series and will definitely be looking for Naomi Novik’s next book.

Have you read the Scholomance series (paid link)? What did you think about that ending? Let me know in the comments (above).

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – The Last Graduate

The Last Graduate (paid link) is the second book in Naomi Novik’s Scholomance series. I had to continue with this series because I had enjoyed the first book so much. You can find my review of that one (A Deadly Education) here.

I read this as an e-book.

Here is the blurb:

A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking crossover series.

At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year—and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules . . .

Another school year starts in this book and we follow El, Orion, and their friends as they try to study and survive it. In that respect it is similar to the first book, but this time El is less isolated while at the same time reluctantly put into a position of greater responsibility. The characters continued to shine in this volume as they navigate their way through the dangers of the Scholomance.

El is still haunted by the prophecy that claims she will become a danger to the enclaves, causing her to believe that she is destined to turn to dark magic. This was an intriguing part of the book to me since she has been clearly resisting the prophecy and I couldn’t see anything forcing her to make that change yet. However, I often distrust prophecies in fantasy fiction (thanks, Tad Williams).

This is definitely part of a series and would be difficult to pick up without reading A Deadly Education (paid link) first. The ending also ends on a devastating cliff-hanger, so be ready to start the last book, The Golden Enclaves (paid link), once you’re done.

Have you read any of the books in this series? Do you have a favorite series featuring a magic school? Let me know in the comments (above).

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – A Deadly Education

I have had A Deadly Education (paid link) by Naomi Novik on my to-be-read pile for a couple of years. She is an author who burst onto the scene with her Temeraire series (paid link) and then followed it up with two fairy-tale-inspired stand-alones–Uprooted and Spinning Silver (paid links)–and I have read them all. While I felt like the Temeraire series fizzled after the first three or four books, I loved both of the later stand-alones. A Deadly Education is the first book in a new series titled The Scholomance.

You can read my reviews of some of her other books here:

I read this in paperback.

Here is the blurb:

A Deadly Education is set at the Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.

There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere.

El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.

At first glance, A Deadly Education sounds a lot like a Harry Potter knock-off. However, this magic school is far less forgiving than Hogwarts. The main character, El (short for Galadriel, courtesy of her hippie mother), is a loner with no friends and few resources who is struggling to stay on top of her courses while avoiding the monsters that search out vulnerable students. However, she is also haunted by a prophecy that foretold her to bring destruction upon the enclaves of magicians across the world. The school seems determined to help her along with this fate by revealing the most destructive and powerful spells to her, but El refuses to use the darker side of her power.

When El accidentally befriends Orion, the talented and privileged monster-slayer of the famed New York enclave of magicians, her fortunes shift. This relationship is integral to The Scholomance series, and Orion is not what El expected.

I loved this first book in The Schlomance! The school captured the essence of being a student of magic, but embraced the danger of learning those skills in a unique way. Additionally, the characters were diverse and interesting, with personalities that drew them into conflict beyond what the school already provided. I discussed this book in a local book club and we all decided that we must continue with the series.

Have you read The Scholomance series? What about other books by Naomi Novik? Let me know in the comments (above)?

Find more of my reviews here.

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