REVIEW: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews
Dear Ilona Andrews,
When I finished reading Magic Triumphs last night I felt at a loss for words. I’m not sure I have them now. I’m still flailing a little. I ended the book a little shell-shocked. It was almost non-stop action from start to finish and the stakes were the highest they’ve ever been. Even though I knew you’d promised a HEA for Kate and Curran and I trust you, you were still able to shake me up as I was reading.
Probably since about book 4 I’ve been wondering how you were going to resolve the Roland threat. I wondered a little if you’d maybe painted yourself into a bit of a corner. Silly me. I ought to have had more faith. How it was done was clever and fitting and it made sense in the book and in the wider context of the series. I couldn’t ask for more than that. Brava.
I expect Magic Triumphs will be a book which improves on a re-read. One day when I can carve out the time, I’d like to read/listen to the entire series from start to finish one after another so that I can experience the arc without time and other books getting in the way of my memory. I think I will likely enjoy this book even more then. There are no doubt callbacks to things in earlier books which I missed altogether.
On the other hand, because the worldbuilding is so dense, I occasionally got just a little lost because I couldn’t remember all the things from the previous books. Part of me was tempted to go back and search things in previous books but in the end I just decided not to interrupt myself and keep reading. But I am planning that series re-read/listen.
I’m glad I had already read Iron & Magic (apart from anything else I loved it) because there are pivotal things which happen in that book which impact the story in this one. And there were questions I had after reading Iron & Magic, some of which were answered here. There’s a little snippet from Elara which was a happy surprise and I’m hoping there’s more context to it in the next Iron Covenant book.
The conversation Kate has with Christopher about Hugh was particularly instructive for me. It made it easier for me to buy into Hugh’s redemption – I had already gone with it, but I felt more comfortable with my decision. On the other hand, I am sticking my fingers in my ears and singing “la la la” about Christopher’s history. There are interesting philosophical questions there but I’m unqualified to tease them out or make an attempt at answering them.
I was happy to see Kate and Curran so loved up even as I wondered at their stamina. I was exhausted and I was just reading about all the fights and battles. While they have frequent sex in the book there is only one detailed intimate scene and it is nicely done, a little less explicit than in Magic Shifts, which I liked.
You captured the fierce maternal protectiveness Kate feels for Conlan and the way that, and her love for Curran are the things which drive her on. Her friends are important too and there are some tense moments when they are also under threat.
Kate’s abilities in one-on-one fights as well as larger engagements are showcased and there is also that trademark humour which lightens the tension in places.
I admit I still don’t 100% understand Kate’s complicated feelings for Roland. Not so much that she can love him and hate him at the same time – but that she can, occasionally, like him and enjoy his company. In previous books, seeing Roland and Kate sniping at each other lulled me into the idea that he wasn’t that dangerous. Perhaps that was deliberate.
This is the 10th and final book in the Kate Daniels series. While Kate and Curran may turn up for cameos in future books (I hope!), this is their story done. I’m sad to see them go but also happy for them to enjoy their HEA without constant threat. Well, I imagine they’ll still be killing monsters on the regular because that’s who they are, but basically, they’re okay. The good news is that there is plenty of room in this world for other stories and there are many other characters I’d happily read about – including some, I’m sure, I haven’t met yet. In no particular order, I’m here for more of Julie, Derek, Jim and Dali, Conlan, Raphael and Andrea, Ascanio, Christopher and Barabas, Desandra, and Elara and Hugh.
There were one or two characters I lost track of at the end of the book. I don’t know if they made it or not. My fingers are crossed for at least one of them.
Magic Triumphs was a fitting end to a much-loved series and gave me just about everything I could have hoped for. Grade: A-
Magic Triumphs landed on my KIndle about midnight and I was very tempted to stay up and read it. I am so nervous/excited about this last book!
Thanks for the “timely” review.
YEP, was so proud of myself for not reading all night, started on the way to work, wondered if this could be my work activity today haha, but alas, will finish in the evening. Thanks for the review Kaetrin, I have read some spoilers so I did read it :).
I’m several books behind in this series, so I only glanced at the grade, but I’m so glad to hear that you liked this!
I think, I’ll like it better on re-read. It seemed short and kind of rushed to me. I liked it, but didn’t love it. This is my number one series and really wanted it to go out with a bang. There were multiple conversations, I think needed to be had between certain characters that we never got. There was also a major death that happened off screen. The end felt super rushed to me.
@mel burns: LOL I know! I did and did not want to read it. I wanted to know what happened but I didn’t want the series to end either.
@Sirius: I tried not to be spoilery in the review. I hope I succeeded. :)
@Janine: I was so glad the ending worked. I had been a little nervous about it. But no spoilers!
@N.K.: I think I know the death you mean. I was a little surprised it got only a small amount of page time but the character wasn’t a major one for me so I didn’t get too fussed. I guess others will think the character was more significant and feel differently and that’s totally fair.
Kaetrin oh you did manage it very well I was just saying I was not afraid of spoilers was seeming them out so was not nervous to read your review in the first place. Finished now loved the book.
@Sirius: Good to hear on both counts! :)
NK that death seems like the one most likely to be reversed given the character’s instructions on post-death rituals (and that character would make a good cameo character for other series).
I took a day off to go walking while listening to the audiobook, I found myself listening to the Uncle Stupidhead scene twice just for giggles.
@N.K.: I agree with your sentiments.
I’ve been following this series since the beginning and, of course, had to read this book as soon as it hit my Kindle at 12-something Tuesday morning. I was hoping for an A+ send off for Kate. I may change my mind after I’ve listened to the audiobook and have time for everything to sink in–there was a lot crammed into this book–but I’m tentatively calling it a solid B for me.
Despite some quibbles about Hugh’s reformation (which was addressed further in this book), I think I liked Iron and Magic a bit more. That book exceeded my expectations, and the audiobook was even better. Seriously, if you (anyone) haven’t already done so, give it a listen.
@Susan: I enjoyed Iron and Magic more also, and that’s a statement I’d never thought I’d make. Even with all my quibbles about Hugh ( which this book added to, by the way ). I guess this is the first book in the series I’m kind of disappointed in. Don’t get me wrong it was solid, but not what I expected from the last book in the series. I loved books 8 and 9 and just knew 10 would rock my world. Maybe I expected too much.
Thanks for the review of Magic Triumphs. I loved all the scenes with Conlan, and his antics reminded me of Baby Jack-jack from Pixar’s The Incredibles. Strangely, my immediate thought after I finished it was that I had expected more – some parts were a bit rushed and glossed over. There were plot-threads that went nowhere. Perhaps Ilona had to keep to a word limit? I loved the reference to my favourite classic high fantasy (small people, who are easily overlooked, sneak in to steal something from someone). I thought there would be more scenes with Hugh. I never thought I would say this – but I actually would rate Iron and Magic higher than Magic Triumphs – perhaps it’s because my expectations were lower for Iron and Magic, and too high for Magic Triumphs. It’s still A-/B+ for me. Time for a re-read!
@msaggie: When I first finished the book, I thought it was a B+ but the more I thought about it, the better I liked it so I ended up at an A-.
What is the classic high fantasy? I know the reference is from something famous but I don’t know what it is (obviously I’m a Philistine. LOL).
@Kaetrin: The classic high fantasy is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit – if you haven’t read the book, you must have heard about the movies made by Peter Jackson after he had completed The Lord of the Rings movies. There’s quite a lot of artistic license in The Hobbit movies, but the book was actually written for children. It starts “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…” and Tolkien wrote those words down while he was taking a break from marking exam papers! It’s lovely, and easy reading!
I liked The Hobbit reference, and was surprised that Kate didn’t immediately get it. And they got in one last reference to The Princess Bride, too. Since Kate liked old books and movies, modern cultural references were dropped throughout the series.
@msaggie: Oh I’ve read The Hobbit! I didn’t think of Hobbits as “small people” – for some reason I thought of Gulliver’s Travels but that didn’t work with the reference so I got stuck. LOL
@Susan: I did get The Princess Bride references at least!
@Annamal: Agreed. I think that character is too compelling for us to have seen its last.
Chiming in now that I’ve finished it. My thoughts are quite jumbled, so bear with me (and if you haven’t read this, you may want to consider everything below a SPOILER).
Compared to other urban fantasy offerings with strong romantic storylines, I’d rate this as pretty good entertainment, but compared to other books in this series, I’d rate this just fair to middling for wrapping up Kate and Curran’s HEA and the overarching conflict with Roland. As others have stated, much of this felt rushed and the build-up for several prominent supporting characters was either glossed over or dropped (maybe we’ll get more development in Hugh’s books or other follow-up series). For example, I hoped for a continuance of the Barabas-Christopher relationship development, but it wasn’t developed much and then we got a very forced HEA for them at the end. It felt too tacked on and out of the blue. I also wanted more of Jim and Dali as it related to the overarching struggle and their friendship with Kate and Curran, but what we got was Dali coming to Hugh hoping for a cure for her infertility. It felt like set up for more of Hugh’s story rather than something that belonged in this story (other than as plot device to question whether the pack would participate in the final battle).
Quite a few things alluded to in previous books–such as there being older beings out there that could wake up–could have been tied in better with this book. I think there’ve been clues all along that they’d have to work with Roland to defeat a bigger enemy, so that didn’t surprise me. I just wish the authors had followed through on developing that a bit more. I also wondered about one of the Jim & Dali short stories. Didn’t they meet someone that was actually a dragon in one of them? No reference at all was made to that (or if it was, I missed it). It was mentioned that Julie’s friend, who was a hybrid dragon-lion shifter, had a brother, but they never bothered to find out anything about him. That’s just an example of how certain aspects of the plot were never followed up on or felt like plot holes or internal inconsistencies to me. Those sorts of things bugged me, and there were quite a few examples of that in this book.
It did feel as though the authors have so many stories going on, they decided to just wrap this up quickly and save some stuff for other series. I’m not sure how I feel about that. The scenes with Conlan made me smile, but I also thought this was too much of a Kate and Conlan show. Even Curran took a backseat for most of the story. I also agree with Ms. Aggie about Hugh’s book turning out better than I expected and enjoying it more than this one.
Some other dislikes: I’ve never been a fan of Julie nor a shipper of the Julie-Derek relationship, so I did not like the epilogue (unless of course, the authors decide to go in a different direction with someone else for Derek — I’d be up for that). I did miss Ascanio, but I feel that he’ll probably be at least a little bit in Hugh’s story or another spin-off with Julie and Derek.
Likes: Roman. I love Roman, and I wouldn’t mind at all if Roman and his family got their own series. Next to Conlan, he made me smile the most.
Finally, with Roland ending up where he is, how will that affect Hugh’s story? A lot of what happened in this book provides more clues about what Elara really is. How any of what happened in this book will affect Hugh’s story is interesting to think about, but some things that were developing in Hugh’s story felt layed to rest here, so I’m not sure where the authors are going, except to turn to Elara’s development as an ‘abomination’ and what that really is.
@Eggletina: Thanks for all your comments, which I agree with, except for Julie-Derek, which I don’t mind. *SPOILERS* I also thought that Elara was portrayed as being a lot more powerful in Iron and Magic. Remember when she confronts Roland and said that Hugh was hers, Roland seemed wary of her powers? I think her powers may be divine – she could hear Alex’s prayer and home in on him. There is no mention of Julie’s outing her – or maybe Julie already knows as a sensate but won’t tell others if not directly asked about it. I think I wanted it to be a longer book, with more development of several of the storylines from previous books. I wonder if Elara is an abomination because she can take or “eat” other people’s magic, and whatever is inside her grows stronger when she does that. I also thought the resurrection of Erra was a bit over-the-top – I suppose it allows for sequels about their adventures. I have now read Magic Triumphs twice, and would rate it firmly as B+. The other thing that bothered me on the second reading was all the deus ex machina moments.
@msaggie: When you have a bunch of dei running around, ex machina is gonna happen.