Rating: 5 stars
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The adventures of Rune, Addam, and Brand from the Tarot Sequence series have come to a pause. Lady Time has been defeated, The Tower has fallen, and The Sun rises over a new day. And yet, questions remain. While Rune and Addam were lost in the time stream, Lady Time held, for a moment, three of Rune’s children in her hands: Quinn, the seer; Max, the fae foundling; and Anna, heir to the Sun Throne. Somehow they broke free, somehow they enlisted the help of The Fool, and somehow they managed to help thwart Lady Time and her minions. This is their story.
The Magnus Academy series is a side collection of stories that show us Rune through other eyes, offering us glimpses into parts of New Atlantis previously unseen because Rune, as charming as he is, tends to be focused on his own path. If you haven’t read the Tarot Sequence series, very little of what happens in this book, or likely the following books, will make any sense to you at all. You won’t know how hard Max fought for his bravery, how fragile Quinn is, or why Anna’s powers are both extraordinary to behold and extraordinarily dangerous.
Max was a pawn in his grandmother’s game. The last child of The Lovers, whose lives were ended and whose kingdom was overthrown in part by Rune and Brand, Max was to be sold off to the Hanged Man. He lived his life in fear, powerless, knowing himself to be nothing more than pawn in the games of anyone and everyone more powerful than he was. And then there was Rune, who took him in, who fought to protect him, who braved zombies, ghosts, and dinosaurs to kill the Hanged Man and rescue Max. Max doesn’t have powers, but what he has is a heart so deep and loving, a strength he’s only newly coming into, and unshakable loyalty. He tries so hard to be like his heroes, like the men who saved him, and is taking lessons from Brand in how to fight with weapons — as he doesn’t have much magic. He’s not exactly clever, but he’s far from stupid; cool headed under pressure, he’s a rock for his friends. Especially Quinn.
Quinn has never not been able to see the future. And not just one future, but all of them, stretching out. He can see the threads of fate that unspool when he uses his left hand instead of his right, when he coughs instead of sneezes. He has always known what to do, and when and why. He tries to use his gift to help people — especially Addam, his beloved brother, and Rune, his brother’s beloved — but it’s when his gift is taken from him that Quinn has a chance to actually discover what it’s like to not be in control of the future. If it weren’t for Max at his side, he’d probably panic, but Max doesn’t let him. Max isn’t afraid so Quinn doesn’t have to be; Max will be there whether Quinn chooses the right path or the wrong one, and if Quinn weren’t asexual and aromantic, he’d probably be halfway to loving Max as something more than a brother and friend. Their relationship is nothing like Rune and Brand’s, but there is still the same bond, the same trust, and the same powerful truth between them that Brand and Rune share.
And then there’s Anna, who refuses to let Quinn and Max face danger without her. She’s more than just powerful. In a world where magic equals rank and magic grants glory, Anna is right there at Rune’s side. She can summon her aspect and she’s not even close to 20. She wears her heart on her sleeve, feeling everything so deeply — but being young, she’s also just as much a fool as Max and Quinn. More bull headed and a little less quick, she’s also the one more inclined to feel her way through a situation. She feels pity and forgiveness as quickly as she feels rage, and only the heavens themselves will save anyone she hates. Rune is still new to her, a figure far above her, and yet he’s made her his heir. She doesn’t have the close bond with him Max does, doesn’t know them as well as Quinn does (and will and always has), but she knows Max and Quinn. For Max, Rune is a hero. For Quinn, Rune is a potential he wants to see realized. For Anna, he’s distant family she now lives with.
It’s interesting — having read the other books, having fallen in love with Rune — to see him through Max, Quinn, and Anna’s eyes. Their confidence that he’ll save them, somehow; their surety that he’ll end Lady Time and save the day. And knowing how hard Rune fought to do just that, to save them, to save everyone … it just adds a little extra something to the book.
The writing is, as usual, top notch. The pace is a little rushed, but that makes perfect sense because the events taking place in the book are a frenetic burst of kidnapping, captivity, combat, and rescues. I enjoyed Quinn’s voice most of all, and the hints and promises of his future. I cannot wait for the next book, and the next and the next …