Friday, May 06, 2022

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik: review

5/5 stars on Goodreads

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik

Can I start with just AAAAGGGHH! I was not prepared for the ending, despite the book pointing at it with a large arrow from the first page. Now I have the agonising wait untill September to find out how it’ll turn out. Based on the description of that book, all is not lost. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

The Last Graduate is the second book in the Scholomance trilogy of a school for mages. The school is infested with all sorts of monsters who kill and eat the students, and the main purpose of the education is to learn to spot and defend oneself against thema fact that I missed reading the first book, if it was spelled out that clearly there. The students are trapped inside it for four years, and those who are alive and able to exit the portal out at the end, after battling through hordes of monsters, graduate.

The main character is El, Galadriel, who has potential to become the greatest evil mage ever. She tries to resist her destiny with everything she has, despite the semi-sentient school pushing her towards it with everything it makes her learn. She’s never truly tempted, but occasionally the spells get out of her hands.

It’s the last year and the school has upped its efforts. At first she believes it’s out to get her, but little by little it dawns on her that it’s preparing her for a different mission: saving her entire graduation class. And that morphs into a bigger challenge: saving everyone. She’s unique in her magic and strength, and possibly the only one who can do it.

She isn’t alone in her mission, much to her surprise, having spent most of her time in the school without friends. She doesn’t always know what to do with them, not accustomed to having friends, but she gets it mostly right in the end. The biggest puzzle for her is Orion Lake, her sort of boyfriend. He’s a wonderful character in his single-minded mission to kill all the monsters, with room for only one other thing, El.

Most of the book is about preparing for the graduation day. It gets slightly repetitive, maybe, but with all the action, it never becomes dull. Obviously the exit from the school doesn’t go entirely as planned, and definitely not for El. The abrupt ending is a perfect cliff-hanger, and I can’t wait to read the last book.

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