(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Spirit White and her friends Burke, Loch, and Addie have escaped from Oakhurst Academy. But their freedom has come at a terrible cost—a dear friend sacrificed her own life to save theirs. In the wake of Muirin’s death, they are also forced to deal with the terrifying truth behind the facade of Oakhurst Academy: all of the legends are true.
Queen Guinevere, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table really had existed. With the magic of Merlin, they were able to imprison their greatest foe, Mordred, before he could plunge the world back into the Dark Ages. But Mordred is now free, in charge of Oakhurst Academy, and determined to finish what he started so long ago.
Pursued by Shadow Knights, the reincarnated remnants of Mordred’s original army, Spirit’s small band undertakes a quest to recover the Four Hallows, objects of immeasurable power. Memories of a past life have begun to surface, one in which Spirit wields a legendary sword. She comes to realize that these memories are the true key to Mordred’s defeat. Can Spirit and her friends manage to recapture the magic of Camelot in time to save their fellow students and prevent the end of the world?”
I’ve been following this series since the beginning, and so I was excited to see that the final book was coming out. There’s always a bit of sadness at finishing a series, because that means that there’s no more story to look forward to; at the same time, there’s a sense of satisfaction at getting to the end of the tale and finding out what happens. In this case, the sadness also had the aspect of disappointment, because this book didn’t have the impact of the ones that came before.
One of the things that I’d liked about this series was how things didn’t come too easily to the characters, especially Spirit. She was always the one with no magic, struggling to outmatch those set against her, using nothing more than her wit and intelligence. Her friends had power, to be sure, but they were all still teenagers, inexperienced and often out of their depth. With the revelation that they were dealing with Mordred and the other Knights of the Round Table, the ante was upped even higher.
Unfortunately, this final novel gave Spirit and her friends far too much power and ability all at once, and thus the final conflict didn’t have much impact. You have to expect that the good guys will take the day eventually, and thus the challenge for the author is to give the journey to that resolution as much tension as possible. This was accomplished in the earlier books, even to the point of killing off one of the major characters. Here, things just come too easy.
I did enjoy the book, for the most part. The strength of the previous books in the series made me predisposed to enjoy this one. I wish it hadn’t felt so much like the authors realized that they had to wrap up the story and did so as expeditiously as possible. To me, it’s telling that this is the shortest book of the four by a good fifty pages or so. On the plus side, this makes the novel a fast, light read that might do the trick for some fans of the series. For me, it wasn’t enough.
Victories doesn’t score a victory with its storytelling. Too much haste, as well as too much power given unearned to its main characters, make this a disappointing end to a series that, overall, I enjoyed.
Series: Shadow Grail
Publisher: Tor Teen
Page Count: 256
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Acquired: Provided by the publisher
Author Website–Mercedes Lackey
Author Website–Rosemary Edghill
Read an excerpt