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Honestly, was rather disappointed by this book. It has some interesting elements, but the overall book and ending failed to have the meaning I thought it should have had.
Cheating on your significant other isn’t cute, funny, nor does it add anything to the story. The whole side story of El and Liesel felt pointless and so out of character for El. I’m supposed to believe that she is so distrustful of people and their motives, has such a hard time relating to people and having them understand her that she, while grieving, would allow someone that close to her? It felt as though the whole thing was injected into the story so that the book could be considered “lgbtq”. Completely stupid storyline with no set up or pay off and just left me feeling like El was an unfaithful jerk of a human being. As far as the rest of the story, the set up of the entire thing is that there is a balance in the world and if you want something huge you have to make a huge sacrifice or else risk the consequences of debts that are left unpaid. Galadriel didn’t pay anything. There is no risk for her in killing maw mouths and collapsing Enclaves. She suffers nothing for doing it. She just suddenly realizes she can say “you’re already dead” et voila! They’re dead! Because she isn’t risking anything who cares if she succeeds or not? Also, fortunately for her, she can just waltz through life without feeling any guilt for her part in Enclaves existing because she’s not from one! How convenient for her to be so removed from the process and just benefit from the work of others who came from Enclaves without having to accept that, as with many things in life, there are positives and negatives and sometimes people do things because they don’t feel they have any other option. (A reminder that they didn’t just happen to have the Golden Enclaves pop up in front of them one day!) It’s somewhat hinted at that she knows others are trying to justify their choices, but she gets to stay on her moral high ground because she’s not responsible for anyone else in the world and when she might have to make a choice she conveniently gets the tools to make a choice without having to give anything or risk anything herself. I was hoping she’d grow as a character, but she really doesn’t. It’s all just too convenient with no real cost. It was also said that she was the balance to Orion’s power (leading me to believe that they both had to die) only for her to say “nah, I’m keeping whatever I want” and doing exactly that. Then at the end she’s just like “oh dear, I guess I can’t build enclaves but instead have to kill maw mouths. How sad for me,” which seemed like a stupid ending if we’re supposed to believe that there is any kind of balance in the world. How does doing something that’s easy for you but not your favorite any kind of true sacrifice at all? Oh, but I guess her mother already sacrificed something for the Golden Enclaves so El shouldn’t have to give up anything? As far as Orion and El are concerned, I hope he leaves her and finds someone who isn’t such a narcissist. He doesn’t deserve to be cheated on and he doesn’t deserve the constant abuse from her. I wish the author had explored his experiences and anything having to do with him more as I find him to be more interesting than El. She’s just a petulant child who won’t bother to grow as a human because she thinks she perfect the way she is. This book reminded me of GOT season 8. People turned stupid and suddenly had complete personality changes and everything that was set up was just turned on it’s head for the sake of being done with the story. For a much better teen Fantasy read The Pellinor series by Alison Croggon. The story is great all the way up through the end and actual sacrifices are made by the characters who are nuanced and can’t just be like “I’m a good guy and you’re a bad guy so you die!”
So many loose plot threads: We meet El's mom's friend Yancy, who shows El a complex means of entering the scholomance using drugs - but then Yancy is completely forgotten and never seen again, and there is never any need to use this special time shifting tool for entering the scholomance because you can basically walk right in. Other characters are similarly discarded, like Liesel and Ophelia, whose narrative functions also look important at first, but they also turn out to serve no purpose in the end. Instead, the only character that matters remains Orion for reasons that are ever more difficult to comprehend, given that he is hardly present in every conceivable way.
Infuriatingly, the book begins by demonstrating a novel use of mirrors to access the Scholomance, and yet the magic mirror created with significant effort in book one, and referenced in all three books, is never used a single time - including to access the Scholomance, which is the challenge of the first half of the book. The mirror technique is used once and then forgotten about completely.
The narratives in El's head led to her unraveling the situation in books one and two, but here they become pointless and painfully repetitive. Worst of all, Novak no longer provides meaningful explanations of the places where the action is happening, so they are impossible to conceptualize, and she has no respect for the rules that she creates. The twists go from intriguing in the first book to highly predictable in this one. Even the chapter titles begin repeating themselves unironically by the end of the book, making it apparent that the editors just stopped trying. At one point, El needs to go to Dubai, so she sneaks into an airport using magic and then just asks them to let her join the flight crew instead of buying a ticket (no magic involved). The book is intended to be cosmopolitan but it assumes that none of its readers have ever experienced airport security experience before, and the locations themselves don't make sense - El walks through Mumbai like it's walkable... And it's also a jungle?
This was the Godfather III of an otherwise good series. My only hope is that someone takes the care to write the fan fiction final chapter that this series actually deserves.
I LOVED the first two books and pre ordered this to make sure I got it on the day of release. The first two books are a refreshing new take on an overdone genre with fantastic writing and a great lead protagonist.
However the third installment seems to have lost its way. I'm not sure she knew how to write these characters outside of the school or how they should think and feel when they were free. All the characters but particularly el seems to of had a personality transplant and the plot goes very slowly then tried to cram an entire books worth of plot into the last three chapters. Also
I can't stand the cheating angle that is used in the plot. It's never addressed as an issue. If it had just happened when she was sure he was dead then fine but she does it again the second he is out of sight. Also by the end of the book nothing but orian has been resolved everyone else is in limbo and there seems to be no real answers
I'm honestly gutted I expected so much more. The reason I have given this 2 stars rather than one is because as usual the writing itself is superb!
Tough to write this review. I love book 1 and book 2, they were so good. Book 3 was such a disappointment in so many ways. The main character cheats on Orion, has a lesbian affair with one of the most unlikeable characters in the book. Also, there were a lot of strange freemasonry references, that kept getting worse and worse as the story went on. Like "Door 33" for freemasonry, okay yes, we get it. Lots of weird occult references. The "embryonic abortion" reveal really was over the top—creepy Satanic-level weirdness throughout the whole second half of the book.
I read the whole thing. It gets two stars because the writing is good. Novik is one of my favorite authors and what she did with the plot of this third book saddened me. Did her editor push her to add all this woke garbage to the plot? Yeah, make El a lesbian, have her cheat on Orion (but she's still in love with him, of course, just not enough to stay faithful for even a single week!). The airplane bathroom "Mile High Club" lesbian sex was just not believable at ALL, and totally inappropriate from a YA book, especially since El already knows that Orion is alive at that point, but SHE is STILL CHEATING ON HIM! GROSS. Incidentally, I felt the same way when I read the Lois McMaster Bujold "Vorkosigan Saga" where I read every single book in the series and got to the last one, and the author made my favorite characters into cheating, despicable people. I wonder if Novik wanted to indirectly destroy the main character so she wouldn't have to write about El or in the same universe again.
Note: One week later, I just checked and all the one-star reviews that were critical of the book having cheating or themes of infidelity have now been removed. Just FYI.
I was extremely disappointed in this third book of the series because I loved the first two books so much. This one had too much unnecessary detail; I was always falling asleep because it was so boring. It was as if the author was making more filler because she was getting paid by the number of words. Absolutely terrible compared to the first two books and you could almost foresee what every next step was going to be anyway. Too bad you have to read it to get to the end of the series.
Up until now, this ranked up among some of my favourite fantasy series. I loved El’s ”voice” and the whole Scholomance world.
However, the wierd sex hook-up with Liesel totally destroyed all the consistency and credibility of the storyline. It felt contrived, as if Novik had decided that she had to add in some LGTBQ content in order to be with the Zeitgeist. Why on earth would Liesel have thought that El would be interested, when until now they have never even liked each other? Why would El, who until now has been totally consumed with Orion, have found this in any way tempting? It just makes no sense and really spoilt the credibility of the story for me.
It also bothered me that everything seems a bit too easy for El - suddenly she is the most powerful wizard of all history who can just flick her fingers and kill maw-mouths.
Writing, plot, characters — subpar for Naomi Novik. Should have been a 2 book series as originally intended. Loved 1st book, 2nd was still enjoyable. 3rd muddled through. Ending was not satisfying. Deus Ex Machina for Orion. Even El’s Grandmother’s prophecy was a let down. I think there could have been a better explanation for El’s fate. I got the sense that the Author could not decide how to end the story. Loved her Spinning Silver and Uprooted books. Read those. Or stop at book 2. My 2 cents.
I have been looking forward to this book coming out for months and wanted to love it.
Disappointingly, having the lead character (who previously seemed to have the best moral compass of anyone in the books) be unfaithful to her recently deceased beloved with one of the least likeable characters in the book (who the main character herself did not even seem to like in the last book?) for no clear reason…seemed an unnecessary plot point and lame attempt to cram in some completely unnecessary extra Amazon search category filters for a book that could have been a great end to a great series but thanks to gratuitously undermining what had been a rather beautiful relationship ends up …meh.
I was so excited to learn Novik was expanding her duology to be a trilogy, but after finishing this book I wish the series had stopped with book 2. This book felt very hollow comparatively, like it could have been 1/4 as long and was just stretched and propped up to make a whole book. Characters were almost caricatures of themselves. Was very interesting learning about how enclaves are built but could have done without if it meant Novik didn't force a 3rd book out of very little material. Disappointed...