You may have guessed from the title of this post, but for July’s books of the month I’m going to be focusing on just ONE book! Yes, you read that right. Out of the 10 books I read last month there was one book that stood out leaps and bounds from the rest. It was a historical fiction/fantasy focusing on the French revolution, the abolishment of slavery in England, the Napoleonic wars and the Haitian revolution but with MAGIC. It has one of the best cast of characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, helped by the fact the majority of them are true historical figures. Though not a fast paced series, as a history lover, I found it near impossible to put these books down and am incredibly excited to pick up the authors other works.
A Radical Act of Free Magic by H.G. Parry
The Concord has been broken, and a war of magic engulfs the world.
In France, the brilliant young battle-mage Napoleon Bonaparte has summoned a kraken from the depths, and under his command the Army of the Dead have all but conquered Europe. Britain fights back, protected by the gulf of the channel and powerful fire-magic, but Wilberforce’s own battle to bring about free magic and abolition has met a dead end in the face of an increasingly fearful and repressive government. In Saint Domingue, Fina watches as Toussaint Louverture navigates these opposing forces to liberate the country.
But there is another, even darker war being fought beneath the surface: the first vampire war in hundreds of years. The enemy blood magician who orchestrated Robespierre’s downfall is using the Revolutionary Wars to bring about a return to dark magic to claim all of Europe. Across the world, only a few know of his existence and the choices they make will shape the new age of magic.
Please note some of these quotes may be *slightly* spoilery!
“You could die in the war,” she reminded him.
“I know. And I’m scared of that too. But I’d die free, at least, or as free as people like us can ever be.”
“Does that matter, really?”
“I don’t know,” he admitted with a sigh. “But it feels like it should.”
“The dragon was above them when Hester stopped climbing and turned to face it. It’s neck pulled back and Fina saw the glow of fire in it’s chest. Hester’s voice was almost snatched away by the wind from its wings. But Fina heard her.
“Here I am!” She called. It was defiance and declaration and joy at once. It didn’t matter that the words were barely audible; it didn’t matter that the dragon had no language to understand them. It was the call with which Camille Desmoulins had set a revolution on fire and with which Toussaint Louverture had summoned a storm; the call of magic wild and free. Her eyes blazed with it. “Come to me.”
“War doesn’t last forever. But change, once set in motion, is very difficult to undo. It’s one of the first rules of magic: you can never truly reverse a spell. Dirt will remember being turned into gold, a conjured storm leaves marks on the landscape, a shadow will remember being bound – or free. And when this war passes, Commoner magic will be very difficult to bind again.” She paused. “Besides. God works in mysterious ways.”
“I won’t argue, or course,” Wilberforce said. “But it does seem difficult to see God in the last few years.”
“At her back, the walls sang. It was no warm trilling this time, but a deep, profound not of joy, impossibly clear and sweet and painful, the kind that reached down into her heart and touched her soul. She knew it was only responding to a speech, that it only understood the magic of words and rhetoric and meaning. But she also knew that because of that peculiar alchemy the world had changed, and somehow the walls knew it too. She closed her eyes and listened.”
There were some other books that I loved last month, so honourable mentions go out to Six Crimson Cranes, Witchshadow & Hunt. But while I thoroughly enjoyed these books, A Radical Act of Free Magic just knocked them all out of the park.