Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fantasy is Fact

"Only a few centuries ago, the descriptions of magical beings and their actions within these pages would have been taken as fact."
--Mark Tompkins, The Last Days of Magic
Genre: Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Viking Books
Pages: 400
Publication Date: March 1st, 2016
Source: Copy provided by publisher
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Find on: Goodreads | Amazon
Goodreads Description 

An epic novel of magic and mysticism, Celts and faeries, mad kings and druids, and the goddess struggling to reign over magic’s last outpost on the Earth

What became of magic in the world? Who needed to do away with it, and for what reasons? Drawing on myth, legend, fairy tales, and Biblical mysteries, The Last Days of Magic brilliantly imagines answers to these questions, sweeping us back to a world where humans and magical beings co-exist as they had for centuries.

Aisling, a goddess in human form, was born to rule both domains and—with her twin, Anya—unite the Celts with the powerful faeries of the Middle Kingdom. But within medieval Ireland interests are divided, and far from its shores greater forces are mustering. Both England and Rome have a stake in driving magic from the Emerald Isle. Jordan, the Vatican commander tasked with vanquishing the remnants of otherworldly creatures from a disenchanted Europe, has built a career on such plots. But increasingly he finds himself torn between duty and his desire to understand the magic that has been forbidden.

As kings prepare, exorcists gather, and divisions widen between the warring clans of Ireland, Aisling and Jordan must come to terms with powers given and withheld, while a world that can still foster magic hangs in the balance. Loyalties are tested, betrayals sown, and the coming war will have repercussions that ripple centuries later, in today’s world—and in particular for a young graduate student named Sara Hill.

The Last Days of Magic introduces us to unforgettable characters who grapple with quests for power, human frailty, and the longing for knowledge that has been made taboo. Mark Tompkins has crafted a remarkable tale—a feat of world-building that poses astonishing and resonant answers to epic questions.
Magic + Historical fiction + Ireland setting, I was sold. I don't read a lot of adult fantasy (which I really need to change) and this sold me on it that much more. As the title reveals, magic is dying because there are religious people trying to drive it out of our world. There are betrayals and triumphs and heartbreak and battles. The book opens up stating that centuries ago, everything we would take for fantasy--magic, Fae, etc--would be taken as fact. I loved this idea. That long ago humans and otherworldly creatures lived alongside one another. But as the title of the book will reveal, all is not well in the last frontier for magic--Ireland. The Catholic church wants to snuff out all the Sidhe--magical creatures--and with them gone, conquer Ireland. Our main players are Aisling and Anya--reincarnated twins of their deity. Liam--the man called to protect them. Brigid--the high priestess of the religion. Jordan--a mercenary for the Vatican hired to kill all Sidhe.

The writing of this book is very fluid and smooth. I felt immediately engaged with the story and couldn't stop reading. While the writing isn't as emotionally driven as I'm used to, I still felt myself really connecting with the characters. What I also found really refreshing about this fantasy was that it wasn't confusing to get into the world and there wasn't a lot of unnecessary components to keep track of. The world was easily and eloquently explained. The pace is leisurely but nonetheless enticing.

The characters were very blunt and to the point in their actions and emotions. Which would make you think you couldn't connect to them but that's not the case. I felt myself feeling so much emotion for Aisling and Liam and Jordan. Even when on opposite sides of the war I was rooting for them. Aisling is so incredibly strong and I found her strength and ability to love and care so deeply incredibly beautiful. I found her incredibly complex and loved when the story focused on her. Jordan was also incredibly complicated. He works for the Vatican to eradicate magic but doesn't feel completely right about it. He feels something inside him that isn't completely situated in this world. His character was actually my favorite. Seeing him start off as one thing and end completely different was a fantastic component of this story.

The story. *sigh* The story itself was incredible. There are so many elements that come into play while Ireland, Aisling, Liam, Bridig and the Sidhe try and fight to keep magic intact and on the opposing side is Jordan, Cardinal Orsini, the Vatican and England trying to take over. Oh, and we have some French witches also in the mix. Don't be dismayed it's not as confusing as I'm making it out to be. Tompkins does an incredible job of blending the magic element and the historical fiction element. We see real historical figures added into the mix and I couldn't have loved that more. It was so cool to see how real life Kings and Queens could have influenced history's outcome in this story.

As I said above, I was very emotionally attached to the characters and Tompkins takes no prisoners in telling his tale. There is an epic battle scene that had me acting a wreck because I was so nervous! Reading about the Irish and different Sidhe fighting to keep their land and their magic was so incredibly inspiring that I have chills just thinking about it right now. The belief that magic truly existed in our world and there was a fight to keep it just makes my heart clench in empathy. I could not get enough of this story and how everything and everyone weaves together and plays a part up until the very end.  I love, love, love that this story premises with the belief that while this tale is steeped in fantasy and magic and otherworldly beings... at one time it would all be taken as fact. I find that so ethereally beautiful that I was definitely a believer in Tompkins' tale.

Backstage Pass
If you love Ireland, magic, and fighting for what you believe in...this book is for you.

1 comment:

  1. After what you told me about The Last Days of Magic, I immediately wanted to read it. It just sounds SO epic and SO intriguing, and I'm already half in love with the Ireland part of the description! I can't wait to read it for myself. (P.S. I, too, have not read a lot of adult fantasy. Which is interesting, because I binge YA fantasy like there's no tomorrow.)

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