Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: The Consumption of Magic
SERIES: Tales From Verania
AUTHOR: T.J. Klune
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 450 pages
RELEASE DATE: November 20, 2017
Sam of Wilds faced the Dark wizard Myrin and lived to tell the tale. Granted, the battle left him scarred, but things could be a hell of a lot worse.
It’s not until he reunites with Morgan of Shadows and Randall that he realizes just how much worse things could be.
Because the scars have meaning and hint at Myrin’s true plans for Sam and the Kingdom of Verania.
With time running out, Sam and his band of merry misfits—the unicorn Gary, the half-giant Tiggy, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart, and the dragon known as Kevin—must travel to the snowy mountains in the North and the heart of the Dark Woods to convince the remaining dragons to stand against Myrin. Along the way, Sam learns secrets of the past that will forever change the course of the future.
A reckoning is coming for Sam of Wilds, and there is nothing he can do to stop it.
The Consumption of Magic brings us back to the land of Verania, and to the continuing story of Sam of Wilds and his many friends, loves, and enemies. This story, which very much should be only read after you have caught up on the series so far, takes a much darker turn as Sam fights against and for his destiny. The foretold loss of loved ones, as well as the growing agitation that he is destined to fight Myrin–but no one seems to know how–weighs down this story with a sense of foreboding. But it is in those moments that I find the book really shines.
The simple plot of this story is that Sam must continue his search for the rest of the Five Dragons (having already secured the promise of aid from Zero and Kevin). But while that may be the catalyst–and certainly the most fun parts of this story–it is not nearly the whole. Coming off the various revelations in the last book, this story tends to focus its attention on the relationships that Sam has with his closest friends and family, and how the secrets kept have changed the perspective of those involved. Not only with Sam’s hurt that those he trusted decided to keep him in the dark, but with how the others respond to Sam keeping secrets of his own.
Despite how the revealed secrets do tend to drag down the tone of the story, I am glad that this book did finally have characters talking to each other–and not just around the subject. Knowing the truth about some things might make things tough for the characters, but if the book had continued to have Sam lying to everyone while at the same time throwing a fit about all the secrets kept from him, I would have spent the majority of the story calling bullshit.
While this book is not my favorite of the series (honestly, book one was so awesome I don’t think anything can surpass it) I do want to say that it did work better for me than the second book. There was a bit less forced humor, and fewer scenes where the characters basically talked in circles for three pages before giving even a line of important dialogue. That stuff is still in there–and I know people do like that a lot more than me, so I don’t really want them to miss out on it entirely–but there were fewer times I found myself skimming through ramblings about sex and dicks and rimming that really didn’t add anything to the book besides page length.
Without giving anything away, I also will say that I (mostly) liked the ending. It was tough, but it was a nice climax for this story, and a perfect set-up to book four. There were some parts of it I just don’t buy, though. And because they are spoilers I can’t really talk about them here, but some aspects of the climax seemed to be there just because the book needed some kind of shocker, and not because they made any kind of sense. They did their job in the plot, but I can’t say I found them particularly believable in the context of the story so far.
I also am finding myself having an increasingly hard time with all the “wise wizard” figures in these stories. You know the people who exist in fantasy books only to spout off some random warning or prophecy, and then fuck off without making any sense? Yeah, those fuckers are fucking annoying, and this series has too many of them. I know these books are all about embracing the cliche–and for the most part it works (if done in moderation)–but characters whose whole purpose seems to be mysterious and unhelpful are a big pet peeve for me. And yes the story is self-aware enough to know what is going on–having Sam even outright mention how annoying it is at one point–but I’m a big believer that just because your story/character admits it is doing something annoying, it does not then automatically make everything A-OK. I just think that at this point everyone kinda gets it. The story doesn’t need to keep hitting Sam–and us–over the head with constant repetitions of certain key plot points and/or warnings.
This story may not work for me on several levels that other people seem to really enjoy (the sophomoric humor is not something I really enjoy on constant repeat) I will say that overall it is a solid read. The darker edges to this story give it weight, and since there is the “threat” pressing down on Sam the entire book, you start to really feel invested by the time the payoff hits. While never reaching the heights of the The Lightning-Struck Heart–and least in terms of my own personal investment in the story and characters–this third book creates a great backing for what I am sure is going to be an explosive conclusion in A Wish Upon the Stars.