A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows is the follow up novel to A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab (aka Victoria Schwab) and is/was one of my top 3 most anticipated releases of 2016. It’s officially part two of the Shades of Magic trilogy.  First off, let me say how much I love these covers. They’re simple yet striking, and embody much of the story’s universe -Red, White, and Black Londons...

Okay, back on point. AGOS starts four months after ADSOM left off. Red London is trying to rebuild itself and recover from the aftermath of the darkness that tried to devour their world only four months ago. Kell is no longer trusted by those he thought loved him as a son. Kell and Rhy have both been living in their personal miseries since Rhy was wounded. Rhy drinking himself catatonic to keep the nightmares at bay, regretful of Kell’s sacrifice. Kell on ‘London’ arrest, no longer allowed to travel between worlds without permission, no longer allowed to continue his smuggling habits, no longer allowed any secrets.

We learn that Delilah (Lila) Bard has finally found her way on to a ship, and is immersing herself in the Red London culture as best she can without giving herself away that she technically shouldn’t be there. She’s been learning magic and is becoming quite powerful, even if she doesn’t fully understand its fundamental force or ‘rules’. Even though she technically shouldn’t be able to do magic at all.

Their worlds converge once more when Red London prepares to hose the Element Games, an international tournament similar to the Olympics, except with magicians using elemental magic to battle each other. Epic, right? The tournament is meant to keep peace between Arnesia and its neighboring countries, Faro and Veska.

All the while, a dying London, a London left to the chaos and aftermath of the events of ADSOM is changing. Is coming back to life and defying logic. It’s coming back for Kell.

While AGOS wasn’t quite as action packed as ADOSM, I still loved every minute of it. I liked that Schwab expanded on Arnesia’s world, giving us a glimpse of life beyond Red London. Lila is incredibly smart and fierce. Seeing Lila find her way with a group of sailors when, starting out she only knew a handful of words of the same language, fascinated me. Though, fierce she may be, she is also headstrong and seems to have a death wish. Always getting herself into regrettable situations. I felt so bad for Kell. To have the two people you thought loved you and once called you son, turn their backs on you, to treat you as a prisoner, to be forced to choose between what you thought was family and actually living – I wouldn’t wish that on Anyone. Watching Rhy, being forced to live with the guilt of Kell’s sacrifice was enough to make your heart hurt too.

I don’t know how Schwab does it! I love that this is a fantasy without a love triangle, without a romance angle overtaking the entire story – it stays true to itself. I’m so glad Schwab hasn’t fallen into the ever present trope of the sappy love triangle that exists for no reason other than the drama and writes these real, raw, beautiful characters. Sometimes you want to punch them in the face and other times you want to wrap them up in a big hug and tell them it will be okay. I'm not saying I don't want Kell and Lila to get over themselves and finally realize their feelings for each other, because I do, but I like that it's not the main focus of the story, that it's a very small part of it.

Source: Google
The Element Games are pretty epic! Each country has 12 competitors to start, for 36 total. After round 1, where each magician can use only one element to compete, the field is narrowed down to 18 for round 2, where each magician can compete with 2 elements (if they're able). In round 3, they can choose 3 elements, again if they're able wield as many. Then it goes to the Nines, where they're split into groups of 3 and compete until there are three remaining. From there, to the victor. How bad-ass is that?!

And what's up with White London? Yikes. I don't want to give anything away on that front, so I'll leave it at that, but man. My recommendation to you is to read it, if you haven't already. Now to sit and wait for the final installment. Stas Reskon my friends.



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