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The Fragile Threads of Power

por V. E. Schwab

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679934,132 (4.18)9
Once, there were four worlds, nestled like pages in a book, each pulsing with fantastical power and connected by a single city - London. Until the magic grew too fast and forced the worlds to seal the doors between them in a desperate gamble to protect their own. The few magicians who could still open the doors grew more rare as time passed and now, only three Antari are known in recent memory - Kell Maresh of Red London, Delilah Bard of Grey London and Holland Vosijk, of White London. But barely a glimpse of them have been seen in the last seven years - and a new Antari named Kosika has appeared in White London, taking the throne in Holland's absence. The young queen is willing to feed her city with blood, including her own - but her growing religious fervour has the potential to drown it instead. And back in Red London, King Rhy Maresh is threatened by a rising rebellion, one determined to correct the balance of power by razing the throne entirely. These two royals from very different empires now face very similar struggles - how to keep their crowns and their own heads. Amidst this tapestry of old friends and new enemies, a girl with an unusual magical ability comes into possession of a device that could change the fate of all four worlds. Her name is Tes, and she's the only one who can bring them together - or unravel it all.… (mais)
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Seven years after the defeat of Osaron, Rhy Maresh's kingdom is under threat from enemies old and new. Alucard is still the lead man in his life (both personally and professionally) but has failed to identify any members of "The Hand", an underground group determined to overthrow the king. Lila and Kell return from covert seafaring missions to assist. While revisiting beloved characters from the Darker Shade of Magic series is satisfying, the real gem of the story is a Tes. The new character is a scrappy tinkerer who cannot wield magic but can see it and, most importantly, repair it. Meanwhile, in Gray London, the child queen is seven years older and determined to restore magic to her nearly magic-less land. The extensive flashbacks are confusing and could have been integrated more efficiently. Schwab's lavish descriptive style would be irritating if not for the skill in using it. ( )
  bookappeal | Mar 13, 2024 |
It's been seven years since the events of A Conjuring of Light and life in Red London continues with new dangers on the horizon. Rhy sits on the throne but is facing threats from the mysterious society that calls itself the Hand. The Hand is convinced that magic in the kingdom is waning and that the fault lies with their king being unable to wield magic. As the Hand plots, it will pull a young woman named Tes who can see the threads of magic into the fray. The conflict will also bring Kell and Lila back from their lives on the sea to the rougher waters of politics and conspiracy. Meanwhile, in White London there is a child queen on the throne who is helping the kingdom as its magic slowly revives. But all may not be as it seems with the young monarch...

Diving back into the world Schwab has created is such a delight. Her characters continue to hold amazing depth and was so pleased to see familiar faces and encounter new ones. Schwab does a brilliant job of building suspense and setting up mysteries, some of which are resolved in this novel and others which remain open. A fantastic opening to a new trilogy that fans of The Darker Shade of Magic trilogy should definitely seek out. My only quibble is that the hardcover edition of the book has quite thin pages. It makes the book less hefty, with its 600+ page count, but it did lead to accidentally turning more than one page a few times. ( )
  MickyFine | Oct 28, 2023 |
The Fragile Threads of Power is V. E. Schwab's return to the world she created in the Shades of Magic trilogy. While other readers are lauding this new trilogy and its characters, I confess their enthusiasm baffles me. I did not enjoy my time with Kell, Lila, Tes, and Kosika. Even worse, I had to force myself to finish the book, each time hoping something would click and I would find it impossible to put down.

I suspect part of my issues with The Fragile Threads of Power is that I never finished the original series. In theory, you don't need to read the Shades of Magic books before starting this new series. Ms. Schwab encourages new readers to jump right into The Fragile Threads of Power without worrying about what happened. Unfortunately, much of the story refers to events or people from those first three books. There is an entire untold story behind Lila's and Kell's every interaction. It isn't just between Lila and Kell. There are entire unspoken conversations between almost every character who you were supposed to first meet in the previous trilogy. Without that knowledge, you are missing a key component of this new story.

Plus, Ms. Schwab often refers to events in the Shades of Magic trilogy, the big battle, the enemy they fought, and the consequences. Unfortunately, she refers only; she provides no details for new readers. You can only infer what you can from these references without grasping the full picture. There is no world-building because Ms. Schwab already did it. She might be encouraging new readers that The Fragile Threads of Power is the first book in a stand-alone trilogy, but I do not believe it is. She relies too much on the events from the first trilogy and the world-building she already did for that series.

To make matters worse, The Fragile Threads of Power is slow. Most of the book is one long introduction to each of the characters, with particular attention to the new ones. For Tes and Kosika, we get their complete backstory and everything they experienced that brought them to this point. This doesn't leave much in the way of establishing a new story. What action exists occurs at the end, and it has all the feels of a skirmish meant to test each side. By the end of the novel, there are still too many players and too many side stories to be able to discern what the main threat will be.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed The Fragile Threads of Power more had I not read the first book in the Shades of Magic trilogy. It might be that I would have been less frustrated without what little knowledge I had about the different Londons and the returning characters. Maybe The Fragile Threads of Power is the first book in a new, stand-alone series. All I do know is that I found The Fragile Threads of Power to be tedious reading, with more character introduction than plot, and overly reliant on details from the previous series. I did not click with any of the characters and do not feel that any are in the type of danger that would make me want to read more of their story. I'll leave that to the fans, of which there are many. ( )
  jmchshannon | Oct 9, 2023 |
I loved the trilogy that preceded this book, which is apparently the first of a new continuation of the series. The plot will seem complicated from my summary (which I include to help me remember for the next book) but the main emphasis is on character development and interaction, and the characters are both memorable and endearing.

The original saga began in 2015 with A Darker Shade of Magic, continued with A Gathering of Shadows, and ended with A Conjuring of Light. In those books, set in a fantasy version of 1819, we learned there were four Londons in four separate worlds that could be traversed by magic only available to a few.

This new series begins some six years later, and takes us back to all four worlds. In Red London, the main locus of the story, we meet 15-year-old Tesali Ranek, known as Tes. She runs a repair shop, allegedly working as an apprentice for a Master Haskin, although there was no such person, but Tes needed legitimacy. Tes was just a teenager, but she had a unique skill. She could see threads of power, manipulate them, and fix those that were broken.

In that way, her skill surpassed even that of Alucard Emery, consort to the king, who could also see threads of magic but couldn’t reshape them. He, along with the king, Rhy Maresh, were trying to monitor an increasing threat by the members of the Hand. This underground movement was seeking to topple the king.

Alucard and Ray were helped by Delilah Bard - Lila, - captain of the Grey Barron, the ship she took over from Alucard when it was called the Night Spire. Lila was an Antari, the strongest type of magician in the world; there were only a few who matched her in power. Alucard tasked her with working undercover to find out what she could about the Hand. Kell Maresh, 22, brother to the king and Lila’s lover, is on the ship as well. Kell used to be the most powerful magician in the kingdom, but his power was shattered by Osaron, the dark force that destroyed Black London. Osaron was defeated, but now Kell cannot call upon his own power without being overcome by wracking pain.

Nadiya Loreni is Rhy’s queen and mother to their daughter (co-parented by Alucard as well), Tieren "Ren" Maresh, 4 years old. Nadiya is an inventor, and was happy to tinker in her workshop and let Alucard be Rhy’s companion. No one fully trusted her however.

Ren was named for the deceased and beloved royal priest named Tieren. Rhy is now advised by Ezril, the tenth royal priest, who replaced Tieren after his death. The priests are a mysterious force in their own right, suggesting, perhaps, the power of yet another type of magic in the world.

In alternate segments, we learn what is happening with the Hand. Its members are trying to obtain a persalis, a piece of forbidden magic that could cut through space similar to the way Antari could do. But unlike the temporary opening made by the Antari, this door could be held open indefinitely, and could let hundreds of killers move instantly from one place to another. The only known persalis was housed on the Ferase Stras, a floating repository of the empire’s most dangerous goods. A group of thieves in the Hand were intent on overcoming the wards on the ship, getting past Captain Maris Patrol and her crew, and stealing the persalis. Then they would be virtually unstoppable.

Meanwhile, in White London, following the death of the previous leader, King Holland Vosijk, a seven-year-old girl named Kosika, bearing the telltale signs of an Antari, had been selected to take his place. She was now 14, and she has begun to see and hear visions of Holland, who advises her. Holland had helped magic return to White London after Osaron wreaked havoc on the worlds, and it is now Kosika’s aim, with Holland’s help, to rekindle the flame. He told her, “I chose you . . . to be my hands. Your magic was once mine. My legacy is yours. I will guide your hands, if you let me. . . . And together, we will do wondrous things.”

Evaluation: Thankfully for fans of the first series, the author goes back and forth in time at various points, reminding readers of some of the backstory.

I was so sad when the original trilogy ended, and beyond delighted that Schwab has picked up the “magical threads” of the story again. Lila, Tes, and Kosika star as strong female leads. Different gender preferences and roles are so well integrated you barely take notice, which in a meta sense is a glorious way to highlight the same humanity in everyone.

This series - both the previous trilogy and the new one in progress, is highly recommended for fantasy fans! ( )
  nbmars | Sep 16, 2023 |
Originally posted on Just Geeking by.

Content warnings:
This book contains scenes of blood, death, violence, kidnapping, captivity, poisoning and suicidal thoughts.

There are flash back scenes showing child abuse of two different characters. One is a physical and emotionally abusive relationship between a child and their father and sibling which includes homophobia. The other is a coercive and emotionally abusive relationship where the father views all his children as commodities to be sold for his gain.


In the long awaited return to the Shades of Magic universe, V.E. Schwab whisks us back to Red London and White London in The Fragile Threads of Power. Seven years have passed, and a lot has changed. This is a spoiler free, so I will keep quiet about exactly what has happened, but I’m sure other reviews will include details for those who do want to know. What I do want to mention is the way that Schwab interweaves past and present events.

At first, it might seem as though you’ve missed something, and you’d be right; Schwab just hasn’t got to the point where she’s going to fill the reader in yet. Some readers may feel a bit disoriented as the narration dips from present to past, and back again, but personally I enjoyed the way that Schwab chose to reveal what has happened over the last seven years. It was much more interesting than having a large information dump at the beginning.

As Schwab tells tales of new characters their fates become inevitably weaved with the characters we all know and love. The aptly named The Fragile Threads of Power, pulls on threads left behind from the original Shades of Magic trilogy and wraps them up with the new. Will they all be answered and wrapped up in this book? You’ll just need to read it to find out – and remember this is only book one in a new trilogy.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed The Fragile Threads of Power, although personally I didn’t feel it was quite up to the level of intrigue of the original books. I had worked out the identity of two of the bad guys were very early on, and I’m pretty sure I know who the identity of the third. Either Schwab has lost her touch, which I doubt, or the transparency of the identities was intentional which means there is much more to come!

There was a lot to get through in this book, and she did a great job balancing the catch-up of seven years while keeping the story firmly in the present. I can see the new characters becoming firm favourites. I think one of them is going to get a lot of flack from readers for being very work oriented and seeing things differently. To me, they read as autistic coded, and I’m interested in seeing more of them. I don’t think they’re a bad person, they just see the world differently and don’t realise the way others will use their work.

In short, The Fragile Threads of Power is a must-read if you enjoyed the Shades of Magic series. If you’re new to this universe you definitely want to start with the Shades of Magic series though as you won’t understand a lot of what is going on. It starts with A Darker Shade of Magic.

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  justgeekingby | Sep 13, 2023 |
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Once, there were four worlds, nestled like pages in a book, each pulsing with fantastical power and connected by a single city - London. Until the magic grew too fast and forced the worlds to seal the doors between them in a desperate gamble to protect their own. The few magicians who could still open the doors grew more rare as time passed and now, only three Antari are known in recent memory - Kell Maresh of Red London, Delilah Bard of Grey London and Holland Vosijk, of White London. But barely a glimpse of them have been seen in the last seven years - and a new Antari named Kosika has appeared in White London, taking the throne in Holland's absence. The young queen is willing to feed her city with blood, including her own - but her growing religious fervour has the potential to drown it instead. And back in Red London, King Rhy Maresh is threatened by a rising rebellion, one determined to correct the balance of power by razing the throne entirely. These two royals from very different empires now face very similar struggles - how to keep their crowns and their own heads. Amidst this tapestry of old friends and new enemies, a girl with an unusual magical ability comes into possession of a device that could change the fate of all four worlds. Her name is Tes, and she's the only one who can bring them together - or unravel it all.

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