Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve been on a real non-fiction bender this year and it’s been great. But every once in a while you need something completely fantastical to take you outside of the real world.
It takes a lot for me to get excited about a book that could be termed ‘fantasy’ but The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins is one of those books.
Aisling, a goddess in human form, was born to rule both domains and—with her twin, Anya—unite the Celts with the powerful faeries of the Middle Kingdom. But within medieval Ireland interests are divided, and far from its shores greater forces are mustering. Both England and Rome have a stake in driving magic from the Emerald Isle. Jordan, the Vatican commander tasked with vanquishing the remnants of otherworldly creatures from a disenchanted Europe, has built a career on such plots. But increasingly he finds himself torn between duty and his desire to understand the magic that has been forbidden.
As kings prepare, exorcists gather, and divisions widen between the warring clans of Ireland, Aisling and Jordan must come to terms with powers given and withheld, while a world that can still foster magic hangs in the balance. Loyalties are tested, betrayals sown, and the coming war will have repercussions that ripple centuries later, in today’s world—and in particular for a young graduate student named Sara Hill.
This book is full of magic and tells an alternate tale of how the world became what it is today.Tompkins ably weaves a tale of mysticism and enchantment that has echoes of the history that we’re been taught of the Catholic Church’s establishment in Ireland. There are rebels, and warring factions, Druids, witches and trolls, all fighting for their way of life in the face of this monster power, the Roman Church.
Chaucer makes an appearance, as do Richard II, Saints Patrick and Brigid,and various Popes and bishops. It’s this weaving of fact and legend that makes The Last Days of Magic such a compelling read. There’s an element of “is this what really happened?” that is so much fun.
This is another book that ruminates on the power of the written word, of the ability of those who can read to change the world and how those that have all the power, want to control that ability. It is a David and Goliath story, of the Roman Church trying to trample all over other nations in an attempt to gain all the power and the riches for themselves.
I especially loved that it’s women in this world that have the power. The Goddess Morrigna, rules over the Celts and the Sidhe (Irish faeries) and manifests in times of trouble via her dual aspects, Aisling and Anya. Aisling, in particular, a fierce warrior goddess who is totally kickass. The coven of witches in France, who rule the royal family with their spells and potions, and have an eye on doing the same in England. Najia, a witch sold into slavery from Damascus, partners with a condottieri and ensures his safety and success. And Brigid, the highest ranking Druid, Celtic pagan magic workers, who fights for the Morrigna in any way she can, and today is venerated as a saint.
I’m hoping that this is the first book in a planned series. I have more questions and especially want to see more time dedicated to the devious witches in France. I also think that this would be an epic mini-series and seriously hope that someone is working on making that happen.
Fans of Game of Thrones, Vikings (the tv show), and The Last Kingdom will love The Last Days of Magic.
11 thoughts on “Completely Enchanted: The Last Days of Magic”
I currently reading this and now enjoying it. I started it back in February but took a break because the world building at the beginning turned me off with all the facts but now I’m really into it. I love how he mixes historical facts and bits on Christianity into his story. It makes it feel real.
There is quite a bit of world building in the beginning – that’s part of the reason I think it would make such a great series. Don’t let all that foundation go to waste, Tompkins!
That’s how I felt too – that it kind of felt real! Maybe this is what really happened. Glad you’re enjoying it!
I’m not usually one for fantasy either, but this book sounds like a lot of fun. And I love the idea of telling an alternate tale of how the world came to be the way it is, but still including many of the aspects we are already familiar with. It sounds like pure escapism!
That’s exactly what it was. I was a little sad to have to leave the world, to be honest. My mom and sisters are now begging me to bring them the book so they can read it. I think this one is going to be well-loved in family lore.
I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but this one is rather lovely, even though it’s probably not a book I would ever read.
Even the cover is wonderful, you’re right.
I am going to go out in the cold to pay my library fines (shaking my fist at Breaking Bad) so I can get this on hold! I thought it sounded great and you’ve made me very excited to read it!
Pay those fines, girl! Think of it as a donation to the library 😉
I KNOW you will love this. It’s totally up your alley.
I know! I swear I pay! Also I’m reading My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You… and I feel Backman is going to break my heart again.
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