The highly anticipated finale to the number-one New York Times best-selling trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches.
After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness's enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew's ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches - with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy's final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.
With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in 38 foreign editions and translations, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major best seller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness's legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.
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Disappointing, Inconsistent, & Irritating So Far
Such a let down. So so disappointed.
Like anyone else currently listening to this audiobook, I've been VERY eagerly and anxiously awaiting its arrival. I'm only about an hour and 40 minutes into it, but I had to stop and take a break because I was getting too irritated. I REALLY want to know what happens with everyone, but I don't know if I am going to be able to get through the book.
In the first two books, I'd noticed lots of little continuity issues when things didn't match up, either within one book or across the two books. It bothered me, but mostly it didn't interfere with the story or my LOVE of the characters and books. So far, in book 3, I'm having a hard time getting past them.
Warning, very minor spoilers ahead. They aren't important or anything, since I'm less than 2 hours into a 23 hour book.
In book 2, we were told that Baldwin even stopped in at the family home while Diana and Matthew were away. Now, suddenly, in book 3, we are supposed to believe that A) Baldwin had NO clue Diana was a time walker, and B) He had NO clue that they had gone back in time, despite the fact that he was hanging out at the house with everyone else who knew. Plus, since he's one of the knights, of course he would know what they had decided to do. Ugh.
Also, in book 1, Baldwin accepted her as his sister and even called her sister when they said goodbye at the airport. (Don't get me started on the inconsistencies in the "we're mated/we're not mated issue in book 1 and 2.) Yet he's furious that they are married etc?
That's not the worst though.
Suddenly, we are told that there's this loud call that all vampires can hear as a result of Felipe's mark on Diana/his adoption of her. Yet, in book 2, Father Hubbard had NO idea she was claimed by a vampire until she told him, and he said he would just take her word for it because no one would lie in a house of God. Also, Louisa didn't believe Diana that Felipe had adopted her in a blood ritual. How is that possible, since this call should have been screaming at her loudly enough to annoy her? The blood rage and opiates can't explain that away.
Then there are the little things, like randomly Diana is back in her linen shift from 1590, even though they changed into their modern clothes back at her house in Madison. Also, suddenly Matthew is moody and angry and even more unstable than ever, even though at the end of book 2 he was all happy and well-balanced, having healed his wounds with his father, connected fully with Diana with the ritual of taking her blood and so on. The story briefly mentions that having seen Felipe so recently now makes him mourn his loss again. Also, in book 1, it was specifically mentioned that Baldwin has "never set foot in the tower" since Matthew built it, but now in book 3 there's a sword mark on one of the stairs from when he and Matthew fought, and Baldwin charges right in and grabs Diana?
In book 2, Matthew's unpredictability was partly explained away by the fact that he wasn't drinking from Diana. Once he started doing that, supposedly things were so much better and he "knew" her. Now, he's back to acting like a clueless idiot, needing others to tell him things that he obviously should know. In London, he heard and recognized the steps of two vampires who he hadn't seen in centuries, while they were still outside on the stairs, when Father Hubbard's messengers came to their house. Yet, he had no clue Baldwin was there until he grabbed Diana? Please.
It also makes no sense that Matthew is so mad at Marcus for mating and getting engaged to Phoebe. No sense at all. And somehow it's supposed to be Marcus' fault that Emily was killed? It's like there's all this contrived drama for the sake of drama.
Aside from all the issues, the first hour and 40 minutes are just boring. It was too boring and unessential for the start of a book when we should be getting hooked. Like, Mart and Fernando in the kitchen... Normally I love her detailed scenes that take you into their lives, but it was just so unimportant and blah. The story focuses on so many different people, instead of telling it mostly from Diana's perspective. Even when she's in the scene, it was often in 3rd person narrator style. Then, randomly, it went back to "I..." from Diana's perspective.
And what's up with Cora? Diana had her under control before they left London, and suddenly she's out of control? You could argue that coming back to this time changed things, but Cora was in this time from the beginning since she's been around all of Diana's life. Plus, Gallowglass (sp?) acts like this is typical behavior.
- Sarah Silverstone
I loved the opening book BUT...
I was drawn to A Discovery of Witches for its theme of magic and its connection to Diana's journey of self discovery. In Shadow of Night, I felt that the author wanted to use the book as a history lesson to readers on her point of expertise-Elizabethan England. I accepted that at the time because I know middle books are often slow. I'm not going to take the time to review each book individually so I will indicate that my rating of Shadow would drop from a five star of the first book to a three star. I also wasn't too disappointed with Shadow because I hoped that The Book of Life would be a wow, wrapping up the series with a bang and returning the story to the powerful level I had seen the author capable of in Discovery. I saw no indication that it would become merely what I now wonder isn't just a set up piece for a sequel.The background information that was so pleasing in the first book became tedious by the third, with endless detailed descriptions of wall coverings, furnishings, paintings and clothing. Finally, having become attached to the main characters, I think there can be a point of “too much information” about them. The birth of the twins was, for my taste, too much intimate and excruciating detail. I'm sorry to say that I would only give the final volume two stars. While it does tie up some plot points, it leaves significant ones unfinished and even creates new ones. (***spoiler alert ***) Examples of those include the disappearance of Gallowglass, the unresolved question of Phoebe becoming a vampire and the journey of Cora. The Firedrake talks of Diana having “brought the magic back” yet that idea is not more fully developed. I was disappointed that, after all the build up to the Congregation meeting about ending The Covenant, the meeting itself is not covered in the book. The author lost a good opportunity to cover the evolution of the creatures as they struggle to move past old beliefs and learn to deal with each other in new ways. Indeed, there is very little evidence of “old worlds die and new be born” in the conclusion to this series. Diana becomes fully herself but then doesn't use that power after saving Matthew from Benjamin. Indeed, her life seems to go back to her previous “normal” existence as a historian, except for the addition of Matthew and her children. Despite the return of the arrow to her, there is no indication of how she will use her vast magical abilities. Also, there was no progress on the issue of exposing more than a limited handful of humans like Chris to the presence of witches, vampires and daemons. If The Book of Life does turn out to be a set up piece for a future series, I hope the author would use it to explore some of the missed opportunities of this volume. I think the response of a reader to a book directly relates to what he or she is looking for in it. If you are mainly interested in romantic relationships and colorful settings, this is probably the series for you. If you are more interested in magic, lasting character development and the journey of an ensemble cast of characters in achieving an important mission, you may find it less satisfying.
When Diana releases the last of her fear and comes fully into her power.
The author hasn't lost her colorful writing ability but didn't direct it into powerful plot development.
- Spirit Wandering "Interested in books that help one's spirit move beyond the ordinary."