Thursday, June 1, 2017

Deborah Harkness - The Book of Life

Fans of the All Souls Trilogy sent this highly anticipated finale straight to #1 on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list. Bringing the series’ magic and suspense to a deeply satisfying conclusion, The Book of Life is poised to become an even bigger phenomenon in paperback.
Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

Comment: This is the third installment in the All Souls trilogy by author Deborah Harkness featuring Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont as they attempt to solve a mystery that has been hidden for ages and in doing so, they will be able to save many lives. This is mostly a cotemporary series with lots of magic and paranormal elements included.

In this third story, Diana and Matthew have returned from the past, where they put some things in place and Dian was able to develop her powers.
When they get back to the present, they discover someone dear to them has died and they decide to increase their work and steps to solve the mysteries surrounding the manuscript Ashmole 782, the cause and center of all their adventures. While looking for the missing pages and dealing with surprising and not always pleasant family members, they also must establish their position as defenders of new traditions and battling an enemy who has caused much more harm than they imagined. Will they be able to help those who need, save others and themselves and finally find peace and happiness?

Well, this has been quite the adventure! The three volumes together (my editions at least) sum up to a total of around 2100 pages more or less. And although not all those pages were easy or as interesting to read, most of them were fluid, amazing and gave us incredible scenes and situations that I'll definitely think of the trilogy as a successful one to me, personally.

The books are filled with witches and magic and vampires and creatures who live among us for centuries but always knowing they are different and were hunted in the past. But there is a secret that might unite all species and some factions fear that possibility, at least that has been my grasp of the overall idea behind the whole adventure. Then we have the specifications related to the characters and that is where the beauty and brilliance comes up. I really think the biggest asset of the trilogy is the characters and their interactions, talk about catnip to me....

I liked this final installment, it obviously tides up several loose threads but I also confess I expected a little more show at the final battle, if I can call it that. The story is lengthy but it has felt always full and almost every detail necessary. What I feat in such long books but I can understand why other readers might not think the same. There are a lot of subjects addressed here and yes, some are a bit difficult to follow but the idea is there. I think this shows how dedicated the author was to her work and the amount of research that came into it as well. I'm probably being repetitive in my opinions about the trilogy but after the story itself, the eye for detail is truly amazing.

As for the plot, I'm not going to go into specifics because there are so many things to say it would be confusing to summarize well, but I really enjoyed how Diana and Matthew were always a team even int he moments they were physically apart and it was amazing they managed to start a life that included so many people and all of them played a part in finding the manuscript and dealing with other situations. I absolutely loved the notion we are given that every family member is important and respected and someone to be cared about. The family interactions and the "healthy" structure of it made reading so much more pleasant.

I think this was an amazing read, yes it takes time for us to go through all details and everything feels important but when I finished the last page I was happy to have read it even if the boring parts and the situations I didn't always think were as special were obvious too. I still recommend the trilogy for those who like fantasy and lengthy intelligent stories.
Grade: 8/10

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