The Golden Enclaves is a shining example of how a series should end.
Indeed, the conclusion to the Scholomance trilogy ties most of its strands in a satisfying bow. Mind you, a story doesn’t need all of its loose ends neatly trimmed to reach its conclusion. In the case of The Golden Enclaves, the couple of threads left dangling paint an interesting tableau for Galadriel’s path going forward. They also leave the door open for another romp, should Naomi Novik one day decide to revisit this world.
What blew me away in this third Scholomance novel is the way everything comes together. Seemingly random events from the first two entries are revealed to have been seeds, and they bear an intricate fruit in the series’ conclusion. Weaving hints into the story in this fashion is textbook storycraft, and for good reason. Done properly, it’s a magic trick that awes and delights readers as they connect the dots in their heads. Plus, I love it when a prophecy is foiled or fulfilled in an unexpected manner.
This might be the first time I discuss the series here, but I heartily recommend all three books. As long as you like a snarky narrator who may or may not be destined to become an all-powerful, evil witch. It’s as voicey as it gets, a definite upside for me. Fans of Gideon the Ninth should feel welcome, though this isn’t nearly as sapphic. In the beginning, anyway.
If you aren’t familiar with the Scholomance series, you might be tempted to think that a novel called A Deadly Education will broach some dark themes. You’d be right. While the pages are bursting with malefic creatures that keep infiltrating the eponymous magic school to eat yummy teens for their mana, the story is as much about the monsters inside the teens, if not more so. It’s about what they do to each other, knowingly and otherwise, and how it relates to the world beyond the school’s walls.
Naomi Novik’s Scholomance books illustrate how the smallest compromises help to perpetuate systems we’d rather not be a part of, as they open the door to ever-greater participation into these very systems. More importantly, they give us hope that we can tear them down and rebuild, that we can find a solution and move forward. They show us that it’s worth paying the cost.
They’re damned fun too. The audiobook narration, in particular, is stellar (again, like Gideon). I give it fifteen stars.