- Author: C.L. Clark
- Genre: Fantasy
- Publication Date: March 7, 2023
- Publisher: Orbit
- Series: Magic of the Lost #2
Thank you to Orbit and Angela Man for sending me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
CONTENT WARNING: trauma, violence, blood, racism, murder, mention of human sacrifice, cannibalism, harm to a child, torture
In the second installment of C.L. Clark’s Magic of the Lost trilogy, soldier Touraine and princess Luca must return to Balladaire to reclaim Luca’s throne and to face the consequences of dismantling an empire.
The rebels have won, and the empire is withdrawing from Qazāl. But undoing the tangled web that binds the two nations will not be easy, and Touraine and Luca will face their greatest challenge yet.
Luca needs to oust her uncle from the Balladairan throne once and for all and take her rightful place as queen. But he won’t let go of power so easily. When he calls for a Trial of Competence and Luca’s allies start disappearing from her side, she will need to find a way to prove her might. And she knows someone who can help…
Touraine has found a home in the newly free country of Qazāl. But she soon realizes that leading a country and leading a revolution are two very different tasks. And even more importantly, if Luca’s uncle doesn’t ratify the treaty, the Qazāli could end up right back where they started.
Together, the two women will have to overcome their enemies, their history, and their heartbreak to secure Luca’s power and Touraine’s freedom once and for all.
I have been waiting for this book to be available since the second I finished The Unbroken. That book was so incredible, and I fell in love with the characters and the story, and just couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. So naturally, I was thrilled to hold this book in my hands. And the first thing I did was just ogle the cover, because seriously? IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL. This ARC is so hard to review because I loved it so much, I kind of just want to write OMG IT IS SO GOOD JUST READ IT YOU WILL LOVE IT, JUST TRUST ME. But I’m going to try to write a more coherent review, so bear with me.
And now onto the story. While book 1 was a harsh and unflinching look at colonialism how it impacts the people under colonial rule, and the brutal and violent steps that had to be taken to achieve freedom, this book focuses more on the aftermath—what happens during decolonization. The Qazāli people have finally freed themselves from the oppressive rule of the Balladairans, but their city is still in shambles. They have had to form a government, and are struggling to provide for their people’s basic needs—basic needs which were being provided for by the Balladairan empire. And on top of that, the ruling council struggles to agree on basically anything at all, with a collection of strong willed individuals.
Back in Balladaire, there’s plenty of trouble too. Luca is still struggling to take her throne back from her uncle, and her uncle and other nobles aren’t very happy about losing Qazāl as a colony. Luca’s suitability as a ruler is called into question, and she’s forced to find a way to take the throne without causing more bloodshed, when it doesn’t seem possible. The council has thrown Touraine to the wolves, sending her as an ambassador to Balladaire with Aranen by her side, despite the fact that negotiating in a politically charged court is certainly not her area of expertise.
In this book, we get POVs from more than just Touraine and Luca, which was especially helpful in finding out what was going on away from Balladaire. I loved the Pruett POVs, since her character was not only familiar, but also intriguing. Her character arc turned out to be even more fascinating than I had expected, and it looks like she’s going to play a major role in the final book.
But even more interesting than Pruett’s part of the story was what was going on between Luca and Touraine. They have a lot of history, full of sexual tension and betrayal and hurt feelings, but there’s still a lot more than a spark between them, and this book sets them up to have even more go down between them. Touraine was sent as an ambassador specifically because of her connection to Luca, and directed to exploit that, just as Luca has exploited her, which you can already tell is going to cause even more erosion of trust. But the real question was were they going to be able to work through that, or were these two going to give up on what they have? And I was absolutely here for every second of it, because the two of them were so damn magnetic. Not to mention, I can’t help but love the fact that there’s a disabled character placed front and center in a novel, and she’s in a position of power where she doesn’t let her disability hinder her in anything at all.
There’s a lot of set up for the action towards the end of the book, and for the next book, but this book was still exciting and full of action. There’s even more political maneuvering, and I was completely caught up in what was going on and what was going to happen next. After this, I cannot wait to get my hands on the final book in this trilogy when it is written, because I absolutely cannot get enough of this world, these characters, and this story.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 16
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