As I wrote about My 2023 in Books, I realized I want to write more about what I read.
Just wrote up “A Blast Graduate”, a review of “The Last Graduate” by Naomi Novik
Ok – the previous book ends so well, and drops a huge cliffhanger in the final paragraph. I’m glad I was reading these after they were all done because I’d HATE to wait a year for the next book
This is the graduating year for El in the Scholomance, the murderous school for wizards with deadly monsters around every corner. It really starts to heighten the tension between the tenets of Realpolitik and Mutualism. The world of wizards is brutal realpolitik. Every thing is a dismal trade – no one will help anyone without a benefit because every resource is hoarded against the day of graduation, where every single advantage is needed to improve your odds of not dying or worse. Worse is definitely a real possibility. In comes El and she does not need to trade. She destroys the economics by being able to do more.
I really enjoyed this – couldn’t help but tear through it in a few days. I like seeing El slowly overcome the social obstacles, the economic obstacles and finally the school itself in a fantastic climax. One downer is that this really is only possible because El is a kind of chosen one. Absent El, no one else could have done this. No group of kids before her could have made her choices. But she does have a real set of choices and she DOES make good choices that are very hard.
And the ending isn’t just good – it’s a triumph. It is a determined organization of people against a horrific problem, a moment for people to come together in a desperate last stand. Then the legs get taken out of everything and people have to make an even bigger choice to do something truly truly hard for all instead of just for themselves. We are along for a hell of a ride.
And it’s the second in the trilogy. So, you know, the very last paragraph comes hard again. Damnit.