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review 2017-09-08 00:00
A Gathering of Shadows
A Gathering of Shadows - V.E. Schwab,Mic... A Gathering of Shadows - V.E. Schwab,Michael Kramer,Kate Reading After finishing the first book in the Shades of Magic, A Darker Shade of Magic, I jumped right into this one. As mentioned before, I loved the characters and this one not only introduced a few new ones, but let us see some more of my favorite second tier characters.

*Some spoilers for the first book, and maybe a small one for this book*

Kell and Lilah are still the main characters and we learn early on that Holland survived his time in Black London and has returned to White London. He continues to be our main protagonist, along with the being that was inside the black stone and who we definitely get to know much better. This time, though, Rhy is much more interesting as he attempts to come out of the shadow of the spell Kell had cast to save hime. Kell, on the other hand, is not for much of the story out of concern for what his own risks could cause to the crown. The king and queen mostly annoyed me but their responses to the whole crisis between this book and the last is well founded and I would have done the same as a parent fully knowing and not caring that I was annoying the crap out of everyone who was just trying to live their lives.

Lilah gets much more interesting here, though. She isn't so much paired with Kell in her adventures anymore, but with a new character Alucard Emery. I love him too. He's a bit of a scoundrel but in a very Rhett Butler kind of way that I've always loved. I don't want to give away too much of his involvement in the story, as I had gone in not knowing much more than that beautiful title and the events of the last book. I will say, though, that he is much more fun than Kell had been in even the first book and gives Kell a run for his money in ways not necessarily associated with Lilah.

I also loved that there continued to not so much be a love triangle or love story of any significant sort in these books. There's plenty of making out, but nothing that distracts from the actual plot. I can't possibly express how much I miss reading books with no romantic subplots. Aside from that, there are plenty of loyalties forming and testing in this one that does propel the story in a similar fashion that a romantic subplot does.

Again, the world building is spectacular. We do get to see a little more of it as Lilah has traveled some by the beginning and we get to meet newcomers from other places for the Elemental Games that the plot surrounds. It's not so much about the Games as what happens when the Games are in town, if that makes sense. The Games themselves are quite a bit like the Olympics here rather than the Triwizard Tournament of Harry Potter or the Hunger Games.
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review 2017-05-13 00:00
A Gathering Of Shadows
A Gathering Of Shadows - Victoria Schwab I thought the first book ended with a stronger climax. Which is, of course, the usual issue with middle books in a trilogy; they end right at the dark point so there's not much emotional payoff and all the best stuff is held over for the last book, so all you have are questions and angst. Interesting ideas being played with here, but I didn't really enjoy the read, and I'm not a fan of the tournament as a literary device in general, finding it tedious. The world-building, now including multiple fantasy races and languages, continues to be first rate. Characterization continues to be complex, if a little predictable. Significant cliffhanger ending; plan to have book 3 on hand to avoid frustration!
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review 2017-03-20 07:41
A Worthy Sequel No Better Than The First
A Gathering of Shadows - Victoria Schwab

The sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic is more than just any sequel - its a worthy almost an epic fantasy that lives up to its name when it comes to magic. Where the first begins introducing a world of interesting deep characters, an unspoken evil and politics of tilting the balance of power in the first book, the sequel truly dug deeper into new characters, a depth of understanding of Red London, we get to know more about Kell, Lila and Rhy and the rest of the characters and building up a suspense that ends with a cliffhanger that is exciting, rich and the wanting to know more! Is it better than the first? I can say its well-balance in how the story is laid out brilliantly that never seize to amaze me.


Four months after the Black Night incident, Red London is preparing for a magic tournament. The last time we see Delilah Bard she joined a crew of sea privateers lead by the handsome and irresistible Captain Alucard Emery, sailing across the ocean for the empire. Still, a thief as always but with a new skill of magic. In Red London, Rhy is preparing for Essen Tasch, a tournament where magicians from corners of the Arnesian empire come to compete. Kell, last seen where he had bond his life with Rhy after he brought Black Night towards the Arnes Empire and even though he and Lila had saved the empire, the king and queen of Red London do not trust Rhy's life to be protected by Kell. In White London, some thing dark is stirring and a new king took over, one with a familiar face and an ancient enemy is about to spread its influences across the parallel worlds of London.


There is so much about A Gathering of Shadows but what I can say is its the same as much I would say about A Darker Shade of Magic - it still never fails me how captivating this book is as much as it was in the first book. Victoria Schwab is to this day my favorite author and she had created a world that really pulls a reader in and live the lives of each of the character, with absorbing dialogue and a read that truly keeps you going. I do find that although the sequel isn't as fast as the first book itself, it still has this holding on me that I do not want this to end even though it has to end one way or another. Its still a brilliant written work and one I love most that my reading in the early mornings is what I look forward to to keep me enthrall and mesmerized.

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review 2017-03-11 00:00
A Gathering Of Shadows
A Gathering Of Shadows - Victoria Schwab I AM SCREAMING

I'll try to piece together coherent thoughts later, but right now I have to either sleep, drink, or start ACOL before my head explodes.
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review 2016-12-04 22:20
A Gathering of Shadows - V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows - Victoria Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows is the sequel to Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic; it picks up four months or so after the end of the first book, when Kell bound Rhy's life to his to save it and Lila danced off into the distance of Red London. Now, the thrice-yearly Element Games are approaching, a Triwizard-ish tournament in which thirty-six magicians from the three great empires of Red London's world compete for honour, glory and a large amount of cash. It's a significant political event as well as a sporting one, which means that Red London's royal family (including Kell and Rhy) is under unusual pressure to perform their parts.


And Lila is returning to London with her flamboyant privateer captain Alucard. Needless to say, Lila, Kell and Rhy get embroiled in the Games pretty quickly.


A Gathering of Shadows is deeper, I think, than its predecessor: whereas Darker Shade concentrated mainly on Lila and Kell, Gathering hops through the heads of a number of characters as they collide in various ways, although Schwab is always careful to introduce new characters properly to us before we see things from their viewpoint. This wider focus is one of the great strengths of the book, I think: Schwab releases information to us in bits and pieces, at exactly the right time to keep the tension up. Which is good, because this also gives the book the illusion of pacing. As in Darker Shade, not much actually happens here, and the book's quite happy to wander down random tangents; but it's always in the service of character, and so it serves to enrich the world of the novel without putting in pace-killing infodumps.


The characters, of course, are the book's other great strength: Kell and Lila especially escape the typical fantasy labels of "good" and "evil" and manage just to be "people", who sometimes make good decisions and sometimes questionable ones, and make them for all kinds of reasons, selfish and unselfish. I desperately wanted more of Lila, the cross-dressing piratical woman from Grey London; not that we didn't get plenty of her, but she is so fantastic that I did sort of want the whole book narrated by her. Alucard, too, a new character for this book, is larger than life and fascinating.


This is very much a Middle Book, setting up plot for the series finale; but it never felt that way when I was reading it, and I'd be quite happy to stay in the world for twice the time I got in it.

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