The Last Days of Magic

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Dec 2017

Member Reviews

Despite the bookended modern-day chapters to this story, The Last Days of Magic was a book I really enjoyed. I’m a sucker for fantasy, and this promised to tick all the boxes, promising Goddesses, witches, religion and Ireland all rolled into one.
It also has an incredibly rich mythos, that Tompkins mines for everything he’s worth. Set in the late 1300s, in the depths of Medieval Ireland, we encounter an as-yet unconquered island where the last of the faeries live together with Celts and Vikings, whilst the Roman church and the French High Coven of witches (led, somewhat bizarrely, by Queen Isabeau of France) plot to take them down. Chaucer makes an appearance. So does Richard II, and the Pope.
But the main focus of the book is Aisling, the Morrigna: together with her twin sister Anya, she’s one half of the Morrigna, the Goddess whose return has the potential to save Ireland from invading forces. When her sister dies, though, everything is suddenly thrown into doubt, and with it, the future of Ireland.
I really loved how detailed the world that Tompkins has created is: it’s rich with myth legend, linking God and the Nephilim to the fairy world of Tir n’a n’Og, and taking us in leaps and bounds from place to place. Ireland, and the mythical creatures that inhabit it, is beautifully described, and almost makes you want to jump into the story and explore it for yourself. Though the rhythm of the story, jumping forwards and backwards in time between Rome, Ireland, France and England, is exhausting to start with, it becomes a whole lot more interesting once you get used to the format.
There’s also heaps and heaps of plot- at times, too much. I felt that Tompkins overdid it at times with exposition, heaping unnecessary details into the book simply for the sake of it, which sometimes made for tedious reading, which I skipped- to sift through, and heaps of characters to grapple with. For the most part, he does a good job of balancing them, spending time with Venetian condottieri Jordan and mad King Richard as well as Aisling, letting us see the dark forces massed against Ireland.
However, at times characterisation suffered as a result. I think in the future spending time with fewer characters would not only be more interesting but let us invest more in them. That made for particularly frustrating reading when it came to Aisling: I want to know more about her life, especially as she’s the protagonist! Checking in with her periodically was entertaining but just made me want to know more about her, which didn’t happen.
Because I did enjoy this book. The main characters are, on the whole, interesting and well developed, and you care about them- especially Liam, the Gallowglass, and Aisling. The plotting in the book is superb and makes for some really suspenseful reading. It’s almost like a war novel in its details, and the only thing that was missing was more investment in the characters.
Would I recommend The Last Days of Magic? Definitely. Does it need work? Yes. But it’s also a fantastic read that hopefully will only improve when the next book comes out, as it has heaps of potential. I’ll be waiting!
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An epic novel of magic and mysticism, Celts and faeries, mad kings and druids, and the goddess struggling to reign over magic’s last outpost on the Earth. The Last Days of Magic follows the Vatican church trying to take over Ireland at a time where Fey are still strong and the Morrigna are there to save the day. 

The Last Days of Magic suffers from feeling too much like a history book and not much like a fantasy book. The pace was slow, the writing was oft overly descriptive and I just found it hard to read overall. I actually put it down, read a different book, and then never went back to reading it. Now this never happens as I always want to know what happens. But with this book I just didn't. 

It's obvious Tompkins has done a lot of research into myths, folklore and magic. This is something I love, but it wasn't why I was reading this book. If I wanted a full in depth look at Celtic folklore, I would read a book or search online for the information. I was reading this as recreation and for a fantasy story which I just didn't get. It just takes too long for the plot to move forward past the backstory and history of magic. 

It starts in present day, and then seemingly never goes back to it. (Although, I've heard it does go back right at the end!). There's very abrupt jumps in time, place and character POV which slowed the book down even more. It just felt like a bit of a grind to get through the book, which is never a good thing.

Although I was not getting on with it. I do think there's a couple things that could have made it much better (and easier) to read. One, I think it needed less characters and more development. An entire book about Aisling and her journey, and then the second book could have been about the Vatican storyline and so on. This could have been a series with less jumping around, and more expanding of characters, places and lore.

The second point would be to use research more sparingly. Tompkins seems like a university student who wants to reference everything they've read for their essay. And yes, I have done this before for my assignments. But for a book you need a little bit more writing outside the research and expanding the world to make it less of a retold folklore tale. 

I received The Last Days of Magic* by Mark Tompkins from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.
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Sorry, this story was all over the place. I couldn't get on with it. Did not finish it, therefore no review.
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Bringing together aspects from history, myth, fairy tales and biblical mysteries, The Last Days of Magic tells the story of a time when magical beings and humans co-existed. Set mainly in Ireland and England, we meet men, witches, goddesses, kings, exorcists and an array of other magical creatures, fighting together and against each other for control.

Honestly, the synopsis of this book makes it sound better than it is. Although it’s based on some good ideas, the story is over-complicated and difficult to read. And, most importantly, boring. So let’s get into it…

Firstly, the book is too long, with confusing time-jumps (flashbacks and time-skips) and far too many characters. A nice idea, very poorly executed. I did like the inclusion of historical detail – it gave the book a bit more depth – but, again, there was too much of it. A lot of the detail felt completely irrelevant and just added length to the book, making it drag.

I did enjoy a couple of the story threads (namely, Aisling and Jordan’s) but there was so much going on and so many different parts, making the majority really hard to get into. Large portions of the book really just seemed to be characters standing around discussing battle plans and strategies which was, frankly, dull.

The amount of research that the author must have done in order to write this book is impressive, and I do applaud that, but it didn’t translate well into the story and, basically, it was a chore to read. Sorry to be so negative but I was really disappointed by this book. The premise sounded fantastic and the actual content of the book was a real let down. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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The use of many cultures is spun together to create an exciting, magical story
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I was interested enough to hurry through and finish it but I cant really say I enjoyed it or would recommend it.
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I did not finish The Last Days of Magic. I read about half of it. For me, there was too much that was sexually crude. There were relatively gross descriptions of what were presented as black magic rituals. Others might not be bothered, but I did not care for it.
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The multiple shifts in time throughout the storyline are annoying, interesting characters are introduced but then killed off or abandoned and the cliff hanger ending was very unsatisfying.
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The first time I read the description of this novel I knew I had to read it. My feeling that this book was for me wasn’t to be disappointed as I started reading the first few pages set in our time, an air of mystery swept over the story before Mark Tompkins took us back several thousand years to where the real story happened.

Set mainly in Ireland with some trips around Europe this story weaves magical myth, historical fact, papal legend, and pure fiction to bring together a beautiful yet heartbreaking magical fantasy about how magic left not only Ireland, the centre of all magic, but the world.

Using Goddesses, witches, fairies, vikings, kings, queens, angels, knights, mermaids/men and just about every other creature from legend you could think of without them being out of place or it feeling overcrowded Mark Tompkins has made this feel like a world full of infinite possibility under attack from people who don’t understand.

I couldn’t help but see connection between the way the church were portrayed in this book as pursuing the end of magic and the way over the years they pursued and tortured different groups for things they saw as a threat such as women they called witches, and those from other religions. I think this contrast was on purpose, it certainly wasn’t lost on me and I found many of the papal characters unnerving and in some cases quite sickening!

Our Goddesses on earth Aisling and Anya are twins and between them hold the power of the goddess all the magical creatures worship and follow. They are strong girls and will only become stronger. They each had strengths, Aisling, the fighter, Anya the bookworm and I loved the both for each of the their strengths as I could relate to both.

You know from the title of the book, it’s not going to be a happy go lucky novel. Things aren’t going to go the way you want them to and I’m almost tempted to pigeon-hole this a dark fantasy as it gets pretty grim in places. Despite this I couldn’t help feeling like there was hope, all the way through I just felt like something was going to turn around make things better.

I’m hoping beyond hope that there will be a second book as this was an astounding read. I haven’t read anything like this in, well, ever!

A huge thanks to Mark Tompkins for so kindly sending me a signed copy, I will treasure it. I also thank Penguin for the eARC to read in return for my honest review.
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