Shades of Magic: A Gathering of Shadows – Let the Games Begin!

In Parts 7 and 8 of A Gathering of Shadows, the Element Games finally(!) get underway, and there’s a surprise development or two in store, both on and off the stage…



So the Games finally begin, and I was wrong about my pet theory for what Holland was going to get up to. On the other hand, what Holland is actually up to is still super dramatic, so that’s OK. In a manner of speaking. I mean, it’s probably not going to be OK for Kell.

Poor Kell. All he wanted was a chance to let off some steam in the Games, and now it looks as though he might have to face off against his former not-quite-a-love-interest, as well as having Emery to worry about, and all the personal angst inherent in having the King on his back over his ‘duty’. And then there’s the fact that Holland is trying to get Osaron, the creepy undead ghost-King, off HIS back by… pointing him at Kell like a loaded gun.


So Holland wants to rule White London in peace and maybe learn to actually be a good king, but he can’t do that with Osaron taking up space in his head. A deal’s a deal, but this wouldn’t be Super Dramatic if there was no way out of it, right? If he can unload Osaron on Kell, he gets his peace and quiet while keeping his bargain, and he gets to take out an old enemy for good measure. And if his treatment of Ojka here is any indication, he’s not about to be slowed down by such things as a conscience, or personal loyalty. She’s there to serve him, and the requirements of her service apparently include playing magical guinea pig. Naturally I’m troubled by this treatment, but something tells me that, for all her blind faith, Ojka may not be entirely blind to what Holland might intend for her. What she’ll do about that may very well remain to be seen. Either way, though, the new White King is pretty damn set on his course, and it’s anybody’s guess who or what can derail him now.

And then there’s Rhy and Emery, and the revelation of precisely what Kell’s problem with the privateer is. In short, it is nothing like what I’d been speculating, and given what it turned out to be, I really should have guessed.

Rhy and Emery had a fling, and it evidently went sour when Emery left. Or maybe Emery left because things went sour? That part, I don’t yet know. What I do know is that there are still Feelings there. Hot, steamy, entirely inappropriately timed Feelings. And Kell, as the fiercely loyal brother, is grinding his teeth because he blames Emery for the aforementioned sourness and doesn’t want to see Rhy get hurt again. Good grief. The drama.

I mean, it’s kind of the obvious answer when you think about it. What’s amusing me is that I didn’t think of it. And that’s sort of the emerging theme with these books, it seems. Not much about the plot, either general or specific to a character, is really all that tricky. There are more tropes in this story than you can shake a stick at. What’s winning me over is that it also doesn’t seem to be pretending to be anything other than what it is – a hugely fun romp through a wonderful fantasy world, with clever and powerful yet satisfyingly flawed characters who are still finding their way in it.

And nothing personifies that narrative approach more than the adventures of Lila Bard. She has her own personal issues, there’s no doubt about that. But she doesn’t get bogged down by them, and they are certainly not the be-all and end-all of her story arc, if her scheme to participate in the Games is any indication. Lila’s doing that because she wants to challenge herself, and because she can. That doesn’t mean it’s anything like a good idea, of course, but if that was a barrier, I suspect these books would be far less entertaining.

She’s going to get herself in horrific amounts of trouble if she keeps this up. *Eats more popcorn*

So the Games have finally begun, but at this stage in the book I’m still being kept guessing about how they’re going to end. I still have no idea what’s going to happen, and that’s the best part of it, for me. Very little bores me faster when reading a book than being unable to appreciate or like the characters, or being able to predict where the story might go. So while these books may not be flawless, the story still has enough juice to keep me turning the pages, and more than enough character depth to keep me engaged.

Onward, to the finale!


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