Waiting on Wednesday – The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings.  Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.  In this latest Waiting on Wednesday, I check out the incredible upcoming final entry in Naomi Novik’s epic Scholomance series, The Golden Enclaves.

The Golden Enclaves Cover

Without a doubt, some of the best pieces of fantasy fiction I have read over the last couple of years has been the clever and addictive Scholomance novels by acclaimed author Naomi Novik.  Novik, who has previously impressed with her Temeraire series and standalone books like Spinning Silver, has created an incredible series here, filled with dark magic, complex characters, and an unbelievable setting.

The Scholomance novels are primarily set within the Scholomance, the world’s premier magic school which traps hundreds of magical children in its self-sustaining magical grounds for years, forcing them to face a gauntlet of monsters, treachery and dangerous lessons for their own good.  This all changes when protagonist El Higgens arrives and finds herself in all manner of trouble.  El, who has incredibly destructive magical abilities and a dark prophecy about her future hanging about her, finds herself forced to turn her abilities to destroying the school’s invading monsters when she meets up with moody monster hunter, Orion Lake.  This results in a deep, clever and incredibly entertaining narrative that perfectly twists the classic magical school story around into a brilliant tale.

The series is so far made up of A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate, both of which were among my favourite books of 2020 and 2021 respectfully.  A Deadly Education perfectly introduced the characters and the settings, as well as some of the deadly issues that were impacting the school (well, deadlier than usual).  This was followed up with the even more impressive The Last Graduate, which expanded several of the great storylines from the A Deadly Education, and saw the protagonists embark on an elaborate plan to alter their world for good.  While the plan was successful, destroying the school, it ended on a massive and shocking cliff-hanger that shook me to my very core.  Due to how deeply moving and heartbreaking this cliff-hanger was, I have been very eagerly looking forward the third novel while mildly cursing Novik for making me wait to resolve the story.  Luckily, I finally have some details about the final book which will whet my appetite for the moment.

This third and final book will be The Golden Enclaves, which is currently set for release in September 2022 and will apparently wrap up the series, bringing the entire story together.  A cover and plot synopsis has just been released and I have to say that I am exceedingly excited by what they contain.

Synopsis:

Saving the world is a test no school of magic can prepare you for in the triumphant conclusion to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate.

The one thing you never talk about while you’re in the Scholomance is what you’ll do when you get out. Not even the richest enclaver would tempt fate that way. But it’s all we dream about, the hideously slim chance we’ll survive to make it out the gates and improbably find ourselves with a life ahead of us, a life outside the Scholomance halls.

And now the impossible dream has come true. I’m out, we’re all out–and I didn’t even have to turn into a monstrous dark witch to make it happen. So much for my great-grandmother’s prophecy of doom and destruction. I didn’t kill enclavers, I saved them. Me, and Orion, and our allies. Our graduation plan worked to perfection: we saved everyone and made the world safe for all wizards and brought peace and harmony to all the enclaves of the world.

Ha, only joking! Actually it’s gone all wrong. Someone else has picked up the project of destroying enclaves in my stead, and probably everyone we saved is about to get killed in the brewing enclave war on the horizon. And the first thing I’ve got to do now, having miraculously got out of the Scholomance, is turn straight around and find a way back in.

Ooh, now that is very interesting synopsis that reveals some potential clues about how the plot of The Golden Enclaves is going to turn out.  I love the tone of this synopsis which really carries all the angst and frustration of the point-of-view protagonist El, especially as it sounds like all her plans to survive and to keep her fellow students and their families safe has failed.  The fact that someone else is out there destroying enclaves (elite magical communities), is pretty interesting, especially as that was El’s prophesised destiny that she was trying to avoid (I’m sure she’ll get blamed for it anyway).  Having an atmosphere of war, suspicion and carnage out in the world should result in some intense storylines, especially as everyone is going to be looking at El, who is generally considered to be the perfect weapon.  I am very curious to find out the identity of whoever is destroying the enclaves, especially if it ties into the events El experienced in the supposedly separate and isolated Scholomance.

I do think that The Golden Enclaves is going to be a very different book from the last two entries in the series.  The entirety of A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate took place within the confines of the Scholomance, while this novel will be set out in the wider world.  This really will change the feel, atmosphere and character dynamics of the entire story, especially as the protagonist no longer has to worry about lessons, lurking monsters and scheming classmates.  It does sound like El is immediately going to try and get back into the Scholomance, so we might see a bit of it in the novel, which should prove interesting considering how its destruction led to the big cliff-hanger in the previous book.  I will admit that I am going to miss the whole magical school element of this book, especially as that was one of the things that drew me to the series in the first place (I love magical school stories).  However, I don’t think it will matter too much as at this point, I am far too invested in the overarching narrative and the characters of this series, that I cannot wait to see what happens to them no matter where they are.

Look, lets be honest here, there is no way in hell that I will not be reading this book this year, especially after how The Last Graduate ended.  I am fully committed to finding out how this excellent series concludes, and the above synopsis hints at some cool and interesting developments that should result in a great story.  I am exceedingly confident that Novik will provide an exceptional wrap up to this brilliant trilogy and I am just so excited to see how everything ends.  I am 100 per cent confident that this will end up being on of my favourite books of 2022, and I am so damn excited to see how The Golden Enclaves turns out.

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