Review: “Master of Magic,” Linsey Hall

Pros: Some gripping scenes; consent
Cons: One bone-headed move; one fight moved too fast
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

In book one of The Valkyrie, Bree and her sister Ana had to fight hard to track down and acquire the antidote to a magical poison they’d been hit with. They had the help of the magical Undercover Protectorate, which took them in as potential recruits. In book two, Bree and Cade investigated the cursing of the Fae portal on the Undercover Protectorate’s lands and led a raid to fix it. In book three, Bree braved all sorts of trials in order to fix the powers that were jostling for dominance inside of her. In book four, Bree and Ana, along with all of their new friends, rescued Bree’s missing sister Rowan from the Rebel Gods (RGs). Now, in Linsey Hall’s Master of Magic (Dragon’s Gift: The Valkyrie Book 5), it’s time to finally put the RGs down. But first, Bree needs to visit the realms of the Norse gods in order to acquire her remaining powers. Once she does, the RGs will be able to track her and her sisters–but the women are determined to start the fight on their own terms!

One of the themes that has remained throughout the 20 books-so-far (yes, 20!) is that of romantic consent. It’s so delightful to see a man say “I love you” and NOT expect the woman to return the sentiment until and unless she’s ready. Nor does the lack of an immediate reply send the guy into a tailspin of hurt self esteem. Both characters are allowed to advance things healthily and in their time. The male leads in these books never push or prod their ladies into saying yes before they’re ready; sex tends to wait until book three, four, or five out of five. (It’s rated PG when it comes.)

Another theme I appreciate (I haven’t yet noted it in one of my reviews, but it’s consistent through the series) is that a desire to not harm people if possible is leavened with practicality. Sure, the characters don’t want to beat up the little old lady, but once she starts quite effectively beating them up, they get over it. In other books the characters have noted they prefer to fight demons because they’re sort of “freebies” when it comes to killing (they just disappear on earth and reappear in the Underworlds), but when fighting people they sometimes end up saying “…but if it’s him or me…” or “…but he’s undeniably evil…”. It’s nice to see that balance.

SPOILER WARNING, skip to the next paragraph to avoid spoilers: In the final battle, the sisters, at the suggestion of the Protectorate, add a twist to the plan. They decide to put their powers into three special crystals, so that the RGs will be drawn to those crystals instead of the women. This will give them an extra few moments of confusion as their allies attack the RGs; then the women are to break the crystals and re-absorb their powers. So basically, they add an entire extra step, and risk the possibility that anyone (including one of the RGs) could break the crystal and take all of the hard-won god-powers Bree has painstakingly collected… in trade for an extra couple of minutes of confusion?! This is a totally boneheaded move. Normally the twists and complications in the fights in these books make sense, but not this time. This made me realize how normally-smart the characters are in these books, because the contrast is so great. Also, the entire fight with the RGs, which we’ve been building toward for five books, is surprisingly short. Normally one of Hall’s greatest strengths is climactic battles that go on for delightful ages. This time the whole thing got rammed through in record time, and it was really disappointing. END SPOILER WARNING

It was strange to see several of Hall’s strengths fail so badly at the end, but the rest of the book stood up to all that’s come before. I’m still looking forward to starting Ana’s series, The Druid, next.

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