Review: A Power Unbound (The Last Binding #3) by Freya Marske
A Power Unbound is the final entry in Freya Marske’s beloved, award-winning Last Binding trilogy, the queer historical fantasy series that began with A Marvellous Light.
Jack Alston, Lord Hawthorn, would love a nice, safe, comfortable life. After the death of his twin sister, he thought he was done with magic for good. But with the threat of a dangerous ritual hanging over every magician in Britain, he’s drawn reluctantly back into that world.
Now Jack is living in a bizarre puzzle-box of a magical London townhouse, helping an unlikely group of friends track down the final piece of the Last Contract before their enemies can do the same. And to make matters worse, they need the help of writer and thief Alan Ross.
Cagey and argumentative, Alan is only in this for the money. The aristocratic Lord Hawthorn, with all his unearned power, is everything that Alan hates. And unfortunately, Alan happens to be everything that Jack wants in one gorgeous, infuriating package.
When a plot to seize unimaginable power comes to a head at Cheetham Hall?Jack’s ancestral family estate, a land so old and bound in oaths that it’s grown a personality as prickly as its owner?Jack, Alan and their allies will become entangled in a night of champagne, secrets, and bloody sacrifice . . . and the foundations of magic in Britain will be torn up by the roots before the end.
I received an ARC of this book.
Dear Freya Marske,
I reviewed the first and the second book of this trilogy here at DA so of course I felt that I had to review the conclusion to the story (I am hoping that this was the conclusion. I, of course, do not know for sure, but it felt like a very neat conclusion to me). Even though this book featured the making of a new romantic couple, same as the first two, because of the fantasy adventure storyline you have to start reading from the beginning so please beware, readers. The couples from the past books participate actively in the adventure part of the plot in this book.
In this book as the blurb tells you, our main characters (which include the couples from the previous two books plus Adelaide, Jack and Allan Rossi) search for the last element of the Last Contract and try to prevent their enemies from doing the same. The reason being is that those enemies want to siphon all the power from all magicians in England as they believe they can when they get all the items for themselves.
The magical part of the story was as fun as ever. I loved the descriptions of how magic worked and loved the actual adventure/suspense. Contrary to the first two books I was not sure whether this book had an actual mystery subplot since it did not have an actual murder happening in it, although it did reveal the full circumstance of how Jack’s sister died many years ago. It certainly featured the villains from the previous books though and I have to say that I have not felt as angry at the audacity of the fictional villains for quite some time now, so kudos to the author for this.
I really liked how the magical adventure was concluded and was happy that the author did not choose the more grim ending to it and since it is my speculation and *not* what happened in the book, I am going to say what I was worried about – complete eradication of any magic in England. That thank goodness did not happen and I was glad.
However, besides magical fantasy adventure, this trilogy also featured very important romantic storylines in each of the books. I would argue that each of the Romance stories featured the “from enemies to lovers” trope of the romance (probably least so in the second book), but the first book while less antagonistic definitely had one and each of the romance storylines had some sort of class conflict between the couple. I will argue that in this book the author very much upped the stakes in both “from enemies to lovers” and “class conflict” parts of the conflict, relationship building.
Unfortunately so, I mostly did not buy the romance in this book. And I *love* ‘from enemies to lovers” so very often when I think it is well executed. Here it was just too much for me to be believable that they may have a good long term connection after the book ends. For most of the book I did not see any emotional connection between Jack and Allan and, in addition to, that from Allan there was an intense dislike/ borderline hate.
I am not talking about sex between them – the sex was hot – and I get that insults during sex and during sex play (don’t ask) were made up ones and the ones that they both enjoyed. No, I am talking about the emotional connection between them. I saw some emotional connection closer to an end, but I still felt that Allan was wondering if he could trust Jack after all they had been through. Note that for me it is not the question of whether Allan deserved love or not (of course he did). I just don’t buy that he and Jack had a future together.