In the finale of A Conjuring of Light, parting is such sweet sorrow.
This review covers Part 12 through to the end of the book, and will contain spoilers.
So I was not ready for this book to end, which is always a good sign that the author’s doing their job right. I was also dying to find out how it would end, which is another good sign. From start to finish, this series had me firmly on the hook. The payoff was worth every anguished wail along the way – as well as prompting a few tears in its own right.
So our heroes, be they reluctant, scared or furious, finally go toe to toe with Osaron, having succeeded in their piratical quest to obtain the magic doodad with which to do the dramatic thing and save the world(s). As well as being on the money in the nail-bitingly tense fight scene department, I was delighted by the approach taken to it – our three Antari are all determined enough to see this through, and they know they can’t succeed without each other, but at the same time this doesn’t magically serve to make them friends. They are still the same people with the same misgivings, justified or otherwise, and the same unnerving flaws (will Lila’s temper make her a liability? Will Holland stay true or attempt to betray them for his own ends somehow?), and even the urgency of their accepted mission doesn’t change the fact that, at the end of the day, they’ve got some good reasons to be wary of each other.
And oh, how I bit my nails. Reader, I bit them. There was more than one moment where I was almost, ALMOST sure one of them was going to die. Schwab conducted her action sequence orchestra beautifully, from spine-chilling start (Rhy! OJKA!) to heartbreaking finish (oh, Holland).
And that’s where I want to admit that most of my teary-eyed feelings stemmed from. What’s beautiful about the ending to this book is that, for all that no one comes out of it unscathed or unchanged, and some don’t come out of it alive, everyone gets the ending (or the new beginning) that they wanted, and that they deserve. Some might call it sappy to go down the Happily (or at least contentedly) Ever After road, but when these characters have endured all that they have, lost so many and fought so hard, well damn it they’re entitled to a little sunshine after all the clouds. None more so than Holland, who stole my heart pretty much from the word go and broke it several times over before meeting his end. For someone who never wanted to be a king, or a hero, or perhaps even a good person, he got to be rewarded as all three, in a bittersweet sort of way. What we see of the way he finally finds peace speaks beautifully to me of all those old myths about a king and his land being one, and one thriving upon the sacrifice of the other. Holland finds his peace, and White London can finally begin to bloom in truth. Or so I hope.
There was never going to be any other ending for him that would satisfy me as much, even if part of me still wishes there could be. HE DESERVED HUGS AND PUPPIES AND SUNSHINE. But maybe he’ll get them in the afterlife.
AND THE OTHERS. If Holland’s departure was bittersweet, the way things were resolved for the rest were nothing but joyous. Lila and Kell swan off on their own seafaring adventures – and Lila’s a Captain at last! With Luc giving up his privateer life for something more domestic (more on that in a bit), the Night Spire needs a hand at the wheel, and so it comes to Lila Bard. CAPTAIN BARD. It’s perfect, and it feels right because Lila did finally turn a personal corner, emotionally; after all my fear that she’d skate through all the adventure and danger and never learn anything worthwhile about herself from it, she did finally face the fact that maybe she needs to stop assuming the worst of everyone and let some people help her out sometimes. And we got to see her face her flaws through her (mis)treatment of Holland, which is how I had hoped it would go.
For Kell’s part, our puppy may only have come out mostly whole – that ‘damage’ done to his Antari power is worrisome, but on reflection it makes a sort of poetic sense; Kell had a habit of assuming too much where his power was concerned, and of leaping before he looked at where it was taking him. Rhy is the best, and most painful, case in point there. So if the aftereffects of what they did to stop Osaron leave Kell a little more cautious about how and why he uses his magic, I’m at peace with that. And he still gets to leave London and go travelling and *ahem* enjoy Lila’s company, so I’m happy for the pup.
Then there’s Rhy and Luc. RHY AND LUC YOU GUYS. They make my irrepressible little shipper’s heart so, so happy.
Luc using that mirror to show Rhy the truth of why he left him was a gesture so delightfully brave and overblown and ‘in all of your judgey faces’ that I couldn’t help loving it, and him, and the end result. THEY GOT BACK TOGETHER AND THEY MADE IT LEGIT AND THIS HAS TOTALLY RECHARGED MY HAPPY BATTERIES.
And the best part is that none of it changed how Luc and Kell talk to each other. They might have learned to come to terms with one another but thank goodness this doesn’t mean they have to stop snarking at each other. Alucard Emery snark is the best snark. Fact.
I could honestly flail forever at how amazing these books have been, and no matter what I might have nitpicked at along the way, I can happily say I’m glad I read them. They have a place in my heart now, and Schwab has put herself on my favourite writers list for having brought them into the world. I can’t wait for a chance to read them again, and if I haven’t been able to find words to say everything I want to say about them, then that just means I’ll have more to keep talking about. I’m good with that.