After completing her first year of learning magic at Whitehall School, Emily accepts an invitation from Princess Alassa to accompany her on her progress back to her home country of Zangaria, where the princess may meet her future husband. Alassa, who was a spoiled brat before she met Emily, wants to show off her friend – and impress potential suitors.
For Emily, it is a chance to relax and explore a world very different to Earth, meet new people and come to terms with her reputation in the Nameless World. After her defeat of Shadye, everyone wants to know her, to talk with her, to kill her … or to marry her. For Emily, hardly a social butterfly, the experience is disconcerting. She was never seriously courted before, not on Earth.
And yet, as she sees more of the countries surrounding Whitehall, she feels more and more out of place. The locals come from a very different culture, one that is often strange and horrifying to her eyes. Even her friends seem different people in their homes.
But dark forces are at work, plotting to capture the princess, take power in Zangaria … and undo all of Emily’s work. As all hell breaks loose, Emily may be all that stands between Zangaria and a return to the dark ages of brute force that threatened to lay the kingdom low, once before. And if she fails, her friends will be just the first victims of a war that will rip the Allied Lands apart.
This book was actually not exactly what I was expecting when there was talk about a sequel to Schooled in Magic. As a matter of fact I had a bit of difficulty in deciding what rating I would give this book. That it would be on the upper end of the scale was clear, Mr Nuttall have never disappointed me so far, but how high? Let us see if I can explain what I mean.
When there was first talk about a sequel I expected that Emily would continue her studies at Whitehall and that the story were going to develop along the lines of the Necromancer threat or at least some other similar threat. However this book follows neither of those threads. Instead it almost feels like a kind of detour along the way. As the book blurb states Emily takes a pause from the school and instead follows Princess Alassa on her journey to her home which also happens to be a kind of dating journey by the ancient rules of Zangaria aristocracy.
The first part of the book is very much about travelling, meeting people and learning about the ancient traditions of Zangaria. I have to admit that this was not exactly my cup of tea as far as story goes. However, perhaps a bit to my surprise, the author managed to keep my interest. As have been the case with all the authors books that I have read so far this one is very well written. The characters are interesting and often likable. Even the etiquette lessons themselves and the various political machinations behind and around them were fairly interesting to read.
Luckily, from my point of view at least, Mr. Nuttall gradually weaves in a more sinister story which gives Emily more and more frequent reasons to “practice” her magic abilities. Towards the last third of the book the nefarious plotting takes over more and more before finally erupting in some refreshing action. Needless to say these are the bits of the book that I liked the most.
After having read the last page I was surprised at how much I found myself liking the book. I attribute this to Mr Nuttall’s ability to write a compelling story and make you feel that you really want to follow the characters despite the fact that the story, or at least part of it in my case, is not exactly your cup of tea.
Again, I am eagerly looking forward to the next book although I hope that Emily continues her magic studies and develops her magic in this one. Although I guess it might be difficult to do in a way that does leave some room for further story and character development I would really like to see Emily shut everyone up by throwing some hugely powerful modern science influenced magic, as was hinted several times in the book, at some point in time.