Saturday, February 25, 2017
Wow, what a great read! As the final book in the All Souls trilogy, The Book of Life wrapped things up magnificently, even if I was slightly sad to see it end. I'll miss the characters—so bold and full of life—and the locations that were brought to life so vividly through the author's beautifully detailed writing. Historical books such as these also have a hidden educational aspect for me. I found myself using Wikipedia to learn more about many of the historical figures and places referenced in the story, more so for the second book which took place in the 16th century, but still....
As the ideal alchemical couple, Diana and Matthew are perfect together: light and dark, sun and moon, gold and silver. But still they struggle against the Congregation's archaic covenant which prohibits cross-species relationships, in their case a witch and a vampire. If they can manage to get their hands on the mysterious Ashmole 782 manuscript, otherwise known as The Book of Life, which has been eluding them through time, they're certain they'll have the ammunition they need to fight the Congregation. But there are others who'd love to get their hands on the peculiar manuscript too, and for much less noble and more nefarious reasons.
Overall, The Book of Life was an emotionally engaging read, bringing the All Souls Trilogy to an impactful and sublime end. I'd strongly recommend this trilogy to anyone, even those who normally aren't fans of the fantasy genre, for it's written in such a way that the issues faced by the protagonists can be applied in a non-fantasy setting as well, even if some of the solutions cannot. I'm anxiously looking forward to the upcoming television series—it should be awesome!
Thursday, February 09, 2017
I read this book alongside A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, the first two books in Deborah Harkness's All Souls trilogy. I followed along, chapter by chapter, delving deeper into the world of All Souls that this reading guide provided. Pictures, historical facts, and additional detail provided a deeper understanding into the components that made up these books. Particularly useful during the historical 16th century parts, the guide shed light on many of the intricacies of the time with which I was not familiar, and for that reason, I found it very useful and enlightening.
I was slightly disappointed however to find that the final book in the trilogy, The Book of Life was not included in this guide. I will definitely miss it's companionship while reading that final book.
Shadow of Night, the second book in the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, picks up right where A Discovery of Witches left off. Having just timewalked back to 1590, Diana and Matthew find themselves back in Elizabethan London surrounded by Matthew's friends, the mysterious coterie known as the School of Night. Diana is quite impressed to find Sir Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Harriot, and Henry Percy among those residing at Matthew's house, The Old Lodge in Woodstock.
Among this wily group of artists, astronomers, and spies, Diana and Matthew confide their secrets, and the goals they hope to accomplish while there—find out more about the mysterious manuscript Ashmole 782, as well as locate a witch tutor who can help Diana master her magic. But of course, all does not go according to plan, especially since they've landed themselves just outside of Scotland where the witch hunt is in full swing. The pair also doesn't even know for sure if the mysterious manuscript exists yet so they're left to just search blindly. All the while, they do their best to preserve history and not leave too much of a mark; for overstepping too much in the past can cause a great many changes in the future yet to come.
This book was quite good, though not necessarily quite as good as the first in the series. I loved meeting all the famous historical characters and getting to know their personality and quirks. The author does such a good job at bringing these characters to life, including the famous historical ones, that it felt as if they were my own friends I was cavorting with. Due to the breadth of new faces introduced, the list of characters at the end of the book was a welcome relief to help me keep track of who's who. I must also admit that the companion reading guide, The All Souls Real-time Reading Companion (free for Amazon Kindle), came in quite handy here as well, as did Wikipedia which is just a long press away on my Kindle. :)
Overall, this was a worthy second and a great follow-up to A Discovery of Witches, one that left me breathless to discover how it all wraps up in the last and final book, The Book of Life, which I plan to start reading right away.