A Conjuring of Light is the final book in the Shades of Magic Trilogy, which starts with A Darker Shade of Magic, followed by A Gathering of Shadows. A Darker Shade of Magic, as the first book in the series, focuses on world building and the introduction of characters, namely, Rhy, the Maresh family, and Kell, who is the royal magician and Antari of Red London; Holland, the dark and mysterious Antari of White London; and Lila Bard, the thief, orphan, and hardened survivor of Grey London, who was able to travel between worlds. In the second book, A Gathering of Shadows, readers see the different characters evolving, developing depth and complex personalities, and becoming interesting (or annoying), relatable, and real. Most important, the second book sets the stage for the dark and significant events of the third book, A Conjuring of Light.
A Conjuring of Light hits the ground running, picking up after the cliffhanger in the second book without missing a beat. As the essen tasch, or magical tournament, in the second book winds down in Red London, Osaron, which is a piece of powerful magic that has gained consciousness with the help of Holland, is making plans in White London to make himself powerful, setting his sights on Red London. With the help of Kell, Holland and Osaron plan to enter and take over magic-rich Red London to create a world that is powerful and beautiful. As Osaron threatens the peace in Red London and the rule of the Maresh Empire, it is up to Kell, Lila, Rhy, Alucard, and the other inhabitants of Red London to defend their city and their lives.
Unlike the first two books, A Conjuring of Light is darker, with a serious plot and deadly consequences. A menacing darkness is looming over Red London, with Osaron entering the minds and hearts of those who welcome him and killing those who refuse. To save the city and its inhabitants, the Maresh Empire must find a way to stop Osaron before they suffer the same fate as the inhabitants of Black London. As Tieren and his priests ward the palace and royal guards defend the Empire, Kell, Lila, Alucard, and a few brave others sail away to find a magical black market that has the one thing that might help them defeat Osaron. Unfortunately, the challenge is great and the struggle impossibly difficult, and the closer they get to defeating Osaron, the greater the loss, pain, and grief they suffer.
The action in A Darker Shade of Magic takes place mostly between worlds and on firm ground. A Gathering of Shadows combines a pirate adventure in the high seas, with the popular tournament genre (think Harry Potter’s Tri-wizard tournament and Hunger Games), while A Conjuring of Light combines the different elements from both books – traveling between worlds and sailing the high seas. Like its predecessors, the plot of A Conjuring of Light could have been better managed. Anyone who has read my review of the first two novels know that I am biased toward this series despite its less-than-perfect plot. For me, one of the weaknesses of the trilogy is that its plot seem to be all over the place, starting off in one place, then veering off in a completely different direction. I feel that with its imaginative world building and unique characters, this trilogy could have been better; could have been more, much more, than what it eventually became. However, despite its flaws, A Conjuring of Light is a captivating and compelling read and a good conclusion to an equally good series. It solves many of the problems posed in the first two novels and ties up loose ends nicely. That’s not to say that it didn’t have a few more surprises up its sleeves. In A Conjuring of Light, V.E. Schwab managed to shed new light on existing characters that we all thought we knew, giving them depth and dimension.
Amidst the darkness, chaos, bloodshed, death, and despair in A Conjuring of Light, there is also love, hope, reconciliation, and closure. There is an equal strengthening and weakening of bonds of friendship, brotherhood, family and magic as well as the bittersweet aftertaste of farewells and new beginnings.
Though A Conjuring of Light ends on a somber, if not melancholy, note, its conclusion doesn’t have that sense of finality that would quell all hope of ever seeing these wonderful characters again on a new adventure. I’d like to think that in a few years’ time – 5, 10, 20 years from now, V.E. Schwab might feel compelled to pick up where she left off with the story of the Antari with the very peculiar coat and the girl who would not stop until she saw everything. But until then, thank you, V.E. Schwab, for a this wonderfully enjoyable book and trilogy. As the Arnesians would say, anoshe, until another day.
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) (2017) – V.E. Schwab
Tor; 624 pages (hardbound)
Personal rating: 4/5