December 10, 2015

All Souls Review - Part 3: The Book of Life

The Book of Life 
All Souls Trilogy, Book 3
Deborah Harkness

Published: 2014

Headline, Trade, 

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.



As with the previous two books, while I think that while the UK editions are serviceable, I love the US covers.  The use of the alchemical or celestial symbols on those amazing backgrounds is just divine.  Also, the US boxed set (used in the top image) is gorgeous!  It didn't matter that I already had a trade copy of the books, I HAD to have that boxed set.  So glad I was able to pre-order it from Book Depository in 2014 ;-D

World building

While I may have been a tad frustrated with the storyline, the world building was still as wonderful as ever.  The sights, the sounds, and on occasion even the smells, helped build a complete picture and let me enjoy this trilogy.  I can't say enough about the author's ability on this point.  When I read the books, I fall into the world and the imagery is so vivid.  I hope the world building in the upcoming adaptation is given high priority to do the trilogy justice.


Surprisingly, we see more from Philippe (love him) and Emily, as well as a surprise appearance from Diana's parents.  Diana is becoming more powerful, but due to her pregnancy, she has also become #1 on the Covenant's Most Wanted list.  The addition of a pregnancy only adds more tension between the characters as Matthew goes into overprotective mode and has trouble dealing with his rage as a result.

This, however, is also one of the issues that Baldwin and Matthew continue to clash over.  These confrontations show us yet another side of Matthew and just confirm my feelings that Baldwin is still an ass-hat.  But, this confrontation leads Diana and Matthew into the path of two individuals they knew from their sojourn in Elizabethan London.  I was so surprised to see these two - and I won't spoil you on their identities because it is such a great moment ;-D

Another favourite moment was the introduction of Verin, and her hubby, and the realization that Gallowglass was still in play! Although I noticed that Gallowglass seems to slowly fade into the background as the book went on.  I was hoping he would be front and centre as he is a wonderful character {he really needs his own series/trilogy!}.

Peter Knox, Gerbert, Domenico Benjamin and Satu are at their worst in this book.  I hate them with a fiery passion, especially Knox, Benjamin, and Satu, and to my immense satisfaction, they are the three that I was happiest to see get their 'just desserts'.  Diana had a way of dealing with them that was so very deserving.

Story arc

There is fighting, sacrifice, love and betrayal.  What more could you ask for?

As with SoN, we continue on with the story from the point it left off.  We learn that the Goddess has taken the life she was owed {remember Diana's bargain with the Goddess to save Matthew in ADoW?} and now everyone is dealing with the fallout from that.  There is friction in the de Clairmont family as secrets come to light, and Philippe's phenomenal planning bears fruit as we learn that he had been manipulating the situation - for centuries! - all in preparation for Diana's arrival.

Plus Chris discovers secrets that lead to an amazing discovery.

As BoL draws to an inevitable conclusion - and the showdown of factions - there were some other small storylines that were threaded into the plot that were never fully resolved.  I will mention a few by name (so as not to spoil readers) and they are: Gallowglass, Philippe, Dimenico/Gerbert, and Sidonie.  I have so many questions surrounding these unresolved plot points and it's driving me crazy - but in a good way ;-D

Side note: this matter may yet be resolved as I have discovered a fourth book is in the works.  So, in another 18 months I should be able to read The Serpent's Mirror and hopefully discover what happened after BoL.

Conclusion & Recommendation

The concluding book either makes or breaks a trilogy.  And though I did enjoy the overall storyarc from the trilogy, this book just wasn't the ending that I had hoped for.  There were so many unanswered questions - that I now hope will be addressed in the new book! - that my book OCD kicked in and everytime I think about this book I have more questions and thoughts running through my head.  Despite this, the trilogy as a whole is well worth reading and I would urge you to check it out.

I rated this book

Until next time,

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