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The Way Into Magic

by Harry Connolly

Series: The Great Way (book 2)

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484431,033 (3.47)None
Having lost the prince to the madness of The Blessing, Tejohn and Cazia are the only people who know of his plan to retrieve a secret spell that might, just might, turn the tide of battle against the grunts. But Tejohn's body is broken, and Cazia has been stripped of her magic. Worse, both are being held captive: Tejohn faces charges of treason in the lands where he was born. On the other side of the continent, Cazia is a prisoner of the Tilkilit queen, a creature with a desperate, deadly plan. While they struggle for their freedom, The Blessing continues to spread across Kal-Maddum, their numbers are growing more numerous as the human population shrinks. What had started as a race to restore an empire has quickly become a mission to save humanity from extinction.… (more)
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The sequel to The Way Into Chaos should only be read after the first book in order to appreciate how the main characters are forced to grow under the pressure of the responsibilities they’ve taken on. Civilization is falling apart, all of humanity is in danger of extermination, and they have to learn new ways of dealing with the world if there is to be any hope of survival. This is just as much of a page-turner as the first book, but the core of this one is the breaking down of old assumptions and learning to make friends and allies across previously absolute barriers of class, culture, and species. ( )
  slothman | Feb 15, 2016 |
Nice continuation of The Way into Chaos. This is the second book of a trilogy, and it shows a bit since it’s very focused on preparing the ground for the delivery of the final volume. However, I liked it very much on its own, easily immersing in Catzia’s self-discovery journey and Tejohn's adventures. The pace is somehow slower, but the mystery behind the grunts deepens as the whole of Kal-Maddum, even several factions held too long under the thumb of the royal family and the infamous scholars, is finally realizing that the fall of the Empire may not be such a joyful occasion after all.

People end up suffering in times of upheavals, and the stage is particularly ripe for giving vent to old hatreds or full rein to petty ambitions and grand schemes, or simply for seizing the opportunity to overturn ancient prerogatives. But when, if, realization of the full scope of the peril dawns, it may be too late to influence the outcome. Against all odds, Tejohn and Catzia are determined to find the truth and a way to stop the invasion.

I really enjoyed the separate (yet connected) plotlines and the small, well-tended cast of characters, particularly the two protagonists, a one-time poet warrior and a teenage scholar daughter of a traitor, so different in age, experience, motivations and goals, but both unstintingly applying their talents to find a way forward.

“The best way to deal with a scholar—or wizard, or whatever these things were—was with a piece of sharp metal, expertly applied.”

Tejohn is not one for intrigue and manipulation, he is a great fighter, a commander with inborn authority and an able tactician but he is honest and straightforward. He has faced war and a most dreadful loss, turning his grief and fury into the desire to protect the Empire. Ironically enough, his position as royal tutor at court stems not from his fighting prowess, but from a song, written pouring all of his misery into his creation. With all his being, he’ll do anything to stop tragedy from striking again, and stay true to his prince.

Catzia on the other hand is still searching for her life purpose. She has been fending off for herself in a palace full of scholars and resentful servants, carrying the burden of her surname but also being allowed the opportunities of a privileged upbringing. Always one to treasure her grudges, she has learnt to bide, to hide and protect herself, to think of others as enemies, to lie and deceive. Her only concession is the friendship of the other hostages and that of the prince, the son of the very same rulers her father has once rebelled to. Possessed of a budding talent, she will soon discover that, for a scholar, there is more to going hollow than to just be void of emotions....

If the first book focused more on Tejohn, the second one is much about Catzia, her reactions and personal development.
The story is filled with action too, and I particularly liked that the characters' behavior is very sensible. They see, act, move and question things in a way I understand, and do not plunge headlong into peril just to prove they are invincible or something; of course they face plenty of obstacles and hazards, but I always appreciate characters who take seriously the business of staying alive.

Furthermore, the tale features an original mix of races, peoples and civilizations, with interesting reflections about culture clash and racism which add to the plot and give some clues about the invasion to readers and protagonists alike.

“To be extremely brave, a person ought to have no imagination at all.”

Needless to say, once I finished this book I seamlessly jumped to [b:The Way Into Darkness|24010614|The Way Into Darkness (The Great Way #3)|Harry Connolly|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1420080191s/24010614.jpg|43610360]. ( )
  Alissa- | Nov 28, 2015 |
After the twofold cliffhanger The Way Into Chaos ended on, I of course had to grab the second volume right away and dig into it. The Way Into Magic continues seamlessly where the previous volume left off – so much so, in fact, that it reads more than the second part of a single novel than the second novel in a trilogy.

Pretty much everything I said about the first installment of The Great Way applies to this second one as well: it ticks all of the important Epic Fantasy boxes while at the same time being unusually lean and taut for that genre, combining a realistic setting with heroic characters. The point of view characters are the same, too: Treygar the soldier and Cazia the mage. I assume that their paths will eventually intersect again, but for the whole of The Way Into Magic they are separate, Treygar attempting to fulfill the promise he gave his king, Cazia trying to find out more about the Blessing that keeps on spreading across the former Empire. None of them are particularly successful, and it has to be said that the plot of the trilogy does not get very much advanced in this novel.

Which does not mean that nothing is happening – in fact, there is quite a lot going on, it’s just that most of it does not appear to be of much consequence in the grand scheme of things (and I should add that of course volume three might still show all of this to have been very relevant). It’s no less gripping for that, however, Cazia’s thread in particular (which takes up most of the novel for a reason) is very exciting, taking her into the far corners of the continent where she (and the reader) discover various new races and new cultures. Connolly is really pulling out all the stops there and I can just imagine cackling with glee while presenting a plethora of new people and places without a single infodump. The readers never get told more than the protagonists know, and they discover the world along with Cazia and Treygar – it’s not quite the level of throw-away world-building you find in Roger Zelazny (who this volume of the novel is dedicated to) or Steven Brust but it’s all very deftly done.

While Cazia and Treygar are travelling, the mystery thickens – what is the Blessing and who is behind it? what happened to the Evening People, and who are they, anyway? and how does magic tie into all of this? Connolly drops a lot of hints and foreshadowing without being too obvious about it – another thing he is quite adept at.

Although the cliffhanger this time is not as bad as the ones a the end of the first volume, I’m actually regretting I did not wait with getting these novels until the third volume of the trilogy has come out so that I could have read them all in one go. Now I have to wait two weeks for The Way Into Darkness
1 vote Larou | Jan 22, 2015 |
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Having lost the prince to the madness of The Blessing, Tejohn and Cazia are the only people who know of his plan to retrieve a secret spell that might, just might, turn the tide of battle against the grunts. But Tejohn's body is broken, and Cazia has been stripped of her magic. Worse, both are being held captive: Tejohn faces charges of treason in the lands where he was born. On the other side of the continent, Cazia is a prisoner of the Tilkilit queen, a creature with a desperate, deadly plan. While they struggle for their freedom, The Blessing continues to spread across Kal-Maddum, their numbers are growing more numerous as the human population shrinks. What had started as a race to restore an empire has quickly become a mission to save humanity from extinction.

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