I speak of V.E. Schwab‘s Shades of Magic often, and with pleasure, for they’re truly among my very top favorite books of all times. But not all the reasons to talk about it are good.
Russian editions of Shades of Magic were censored. Queer part of the plot was redacted out, without author’s permission or knowledge. Which leads author to consider canceling the whole contract.
I don’t much follow the love lines in stories, for they’re mostly the same regurgitated things. Not in this case. Here there was no “no, you have betrayed me, I never want to see you again!” thing. Instead two adults sat down, spoke it out, considered it, and all things weighted – decided where to go on from there. The only thing that they could’ve had any issue with is of course the fact, that both these characters were men.
The story is not about queers. The story is not about homosexual love. The story is not even about love. It’s about magic, human nature, wishes, adventures, and so on. So in a world full of magic, rising dead, and portals to other worlds – here, apparently, can be no gays.
“Oh, that’d be too much!” – Said a man on his unicorn.
For next Friday I have you a very nice queer-plot book thus. Because love is love.
I had a chat with one other book blogger recently, where we discussed the lack of diversity in books we’re, so to speak, served. In a sense, unless you look by yourself, for yourself – you might not come around a lot of diversity. So I started digging through my blog, just so I could mark things down: which books had people of color? Were they main characters, or merely sidekicks? What about LGBT people? Different religions? In the end it was fairly hard to find books from different, less popular countries, let alone bigger things, like gender or color.
So we came to a conclusion, or rather, she did, and I stole it, as I do, as should you with good ideas if they’re not copyrighted: maybe we should speak up a little. Education is lacking, points of view are lacking. So let’s help each other out. Let’s find the good things, the diverse things and share them. Let’s educate ourselves, for no one else will!
Schedule will be this, if all goes well: Fridays. Every other Friday we speak of a topic, then next Friday I try to read a book for the previous topic. All suggestions are very welcome.
Shades of Magic is a wonderful fantasy trilogy of three Londons. Grey one is dull, without any magic in it. White one is where magic bites back, eating the very life-force of the world, people. And the Red one is wonderful, full of beautiful, peaceful magic. There’s two main heroes here, Delilah Bard, who comes from Grey London and dreams of adventure. And Kell, who is basically adopted by the royal family, and considers their legitimate son Rhy – his brother. He’s the key to Delilah’s adventure, for she soon finds a way to get him to take her away from the Grey London, into his, Red.
Rhy gets a time to shine in third book, even thou there’s plenty of him in other ones too. He’s a delightful man of tan skin, beautiful eyes, easy flirt, and charming character, with a lot of strong emotions that seemed very true, and honest. And while his bed was warmed by lovers of both genders, his heart secretly belongs to only one: Alucard Emery. Alucard is a captain of a ship Delilah Bard finds herself in while on an adventure to, basically, find more adventures.
While Alucard was beaten by his brothers and thrown out of the home by his father due to where he spent the night (Rhy’s bed), homophobia here is a matter of isolated incidents and oddities of distant lands. Little if any pay attention to Rhy’s orientation, and the worst thing that came out of it was a consequence to Alucard not explaining why he left, for Kell swore to beat him to a pulp for breaking his brother’s heart.
Everything solves in the end, and we get a happy ending for everyone, including Rhy and Alucard. Alucard comes back with solid proof of his love, and Rhy, being a smart young man, finds a way to work his love into his life.
These are truly delightful books. No one’s perfect, and yet the logic these characters show is so very refreshing. There’s no love triangles, there’s no abandoning of dreams for love, but rather true, and honest reaching for the stars, not letting go of anything, not compromising. They’re captivating and wonderful, and everyone should read them!
My journey through Londons ends, and I must say, I’m fairly content about it. With “A Conjuring of Light” by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic 3; ISBN 0765387468; 624p.; Goodreads) Shades of Magic trilogy ends. Some things were left untold, and it felt natural, for they were the things Red London didn’t speak about. Other things received their dots where dots were needed. And since there’s spoilers further on, my advice is to not read unless you’ve read the previous book. Know that I loved this book.
We’re all familiar with the concept of AI becoming self-aware, and what could that mean to us, to our world. In our “grey” world, if not per se London, this concept is the most interesting among theoretically possible ones, for having no magic means we advanced in other things. Red London, on the other hand, has full-on magic…
Once, due to a mistake, or worship, a spell became self-aware outside the will of the caster. And now this creature, believing self to be a God, for hey, they DID worship it where it’s from, is wrecking havoc on Kell’s home. And, of course, he’s prepared to kill it or die trying.
They say two heads are better than one, so how about four? Kell, Lila, Alucard, and their prisoner, sail out into the ocean, in search of the blackest market of all the black damn markets. If you need it – they have it. If you want it – bargain for it. And they’re nothing if not in need of weapons able to fight a divine power, where revered creatures as Antari don’t stand a chance to compete. Just imagine these four in close ship quarters for a week… Rhy, in the meantime, stays behind to defend London until they return, with a promise to Kell that he won’t get into TOO much trouble until he’s back. But that’s easier said than done, for there’s a monster outside alright, but what about the traitors on the inside?
I love how no one went out for a stroll in Black London, and the myth, more or less, stayed a myth, or at least a forbidden place no one wants to think about, like the ajar closet door at night. I like that prince was so utterly in love with his man, that he listened, and understood, and made things possible, as kings do. I like that Delilah stayed her own woman, with her own agenda, her own mind, even with all the stuff about Kell, and that it was him who got to consider that hey, maybe I’m not actually rooted into one spot after all (I hate those damn stories where girl stays behind, and doesn’t go to some uni, just because her new found love was too dumb to get in anywhere, and had to stay in some miserable hometown of theirs). I love that everything ended so well, and that the end, if firm, is not solid, and if need be – there could be a book 4, but if there never is – reader is content with absolutely everything. It’s a very right, and very good ending to have. So I give it 5 out of 5, something I have never done to an entire series before (I think, I might have done that to Harry Potter, but I can’t recall anymore), and will add it to my favorite list when I’m not too lazy about it.
I forgot I didn’t yet tell you about this book until I realized I have barely any left of the third. So do let me tell you how great was the second book in V.E. Schwab trilogy Shades of Magic, “A Gathering of Shadows” (ISBN 0765376474; 512p.; Goodreads), for it was amazing. Mind you, if you haven’t read the first one, you might want to skip this review, and just know that I loved it cover to cover.
As Kell and Rhy are now sharing one life – a lot of things pass between them via that magical link. At first it was seemingly just pain, for if one dies – the other one dies too, only natural you’d feel the deadly prick just as the other party does. But then there’s all the mental stuff too, and before they strangled each other due to constant hum at the back of their heads, Rhy makes up his mind. His brother will have to attend the magical dueling tournament and release some of that built-up magical steam. For unlike your regular mages, this one will gladly slap you if you finish off his already thin patience, or scare him too much by nearly dying if he cared about you, etc. And, of course, since he’s the most powerful magician known, that people revere and fear as a god, he’ll have to enter in disguise…
Delilah Bard turns her ears up when Captain Alucard, after long months at sea and foreign ports, turns the ship around back to London. He intends to attend this magical dueling tournament, and Lila just happens to have discovered she has powers too…
In the mean time, White London, the drained and bleak one, is stirring. A legend came true. On their throne now sits a hero, a king that fairy tales claimed to be able to restore magic in their world.
I can’t stop admiring the characters, how much each one of them is their own person, acting on their own set of mind, and not just there to ask the right questions. I love how Rhy would flirt with a chair, but then is madly in love with one person, and keeping that feeling safe from the world. I love how Kell, at points indeed revered as god due to power is actually a hotheaded spirit, ready to stomp his feet in anger, and yell at you if you chocked and nearly died in his arms, because he got so scared, and you can’t do that! And I just love Delilah Bard, I do believe she is my all time favorite woman ever written. 5 out of 5, deserved every one bit.
Ah, what a discovery, what a find! Thank You, Hannah Cassie, for all those relentless recommendations at P.S. I Love That Book, for at last I reached one and it was oh SO good. This is my first encounter with V.E. Schwab, and her first book in the superb fantasy trilogy “A Darker Shade of Magic” (Shades of Magic 1; ISBN 0765376458; 400p.; Goodreads) blew me away. One of those books I nearly finished all in one sitting, but then scolded myself, and reminded how bad it feels to not be able to continue the next day. I promise, there was more than 2 chapters left when I put it down.
Kell – a messenger from Red London, traveling among the other ones, passing letters from royals to royals. Grey London is mighty boring, no magic, no nothing. White London is fairly scary, for magic there is enslaved, and thus – fights back, draining the life out of the users to the bone. Legends say there was once Black London too, but people don’t speak of such nasty things in good company.
Of course, being one of the rare creatures who can travel among Londons is not the only talent Kell has. He’s a great damn smuggler too, taking little trinkets between the worlds, under the nose of the law. Sometimes just because it’s fun. Other times because it pays off, thou how is a heavy question: what do you need, belonging to royal family, with crown prince loving you as his own brother? And another time – just because he wanted to do something good to the desperate. On one such expedition Kell finds himself with an artifact that by all means, should not exist. The artifact creates magic, where magic shouldn’t be, as in – those who have no talent for it – suddenly can create like they were born into it. Worst of all, the inscription on the artifact is written in the language Kell knows for a fact was used so freely only in Black London. No, wait, that’s not the worst. The worst is that he notices it too late.
Oh, this was so amazing. Delilah is amazing, the most wonderful woman I have ever read about. Kell is fantastic, such a bad-ass with so little understanding of how bad-ass he is. No “fell off my unicorn due to how gorgeous you are” shit, they’re imperfect, usually dirty like chimney-boys, and so on. No “I wanted to travel, but I’ll stay here, because you’re here” bullshit either. The pace was perfect, build up – great, tension – even more so. 5 out of 5, this is definitely among my favorites of all time now.