There are exactly one hundred halls of magic to choose from. Ever since our parents were killed I knew exactly which hall was for me.
Aurelia “Aurie” Silverthorne is one of the best and brightest to ever apply to the Hundred Halls, the only magical university in the world. To be accepted, she must pass grueling trials that claim the lives of aspirants every year.
But more than her desire to practice magic is at stake.
Aurie’s little sister has been courting powerful forces in hopes of protecting herself from the beings that killed their parents, but alliances come with complications. As things spiral out of control, and dangerous foes arise at every turn, Aurie knows the only way to protect her sister is to pass the trials—even if it means making a terrible sacrifice.
Normally style issues are negligible or not worth mentioning, today – I’m starting there. I love the cover. I often couldn’t tell when new chapters started (a formatting issue), and it follows third person with multiple people being followed. All these things gave me a mixed impression of the work that was hard to look past.
However, I like books with magic. Our two characters are sisters, both with distinct stories – which is a plus. There are side characters that border between sinister and ‘just doing their jobs’. We have actual demons – which may turn a few readers off – but let’s face it, this is a darker world than Harry Potter. Everything has adapted to magic, demons, spells, schools that teach magic – etc. But we still have cell phones and computers. It’s a fun setting.
Here’s the rub, both characters clearly have reasons for trying so hard to get into school, both due to loss – but it’s hard to anchor until about a fourth of the way in. Once I got through the initial ‘anchoring’ or ‘groking’ for you Heinlein fans – I was hooked.
There are a couple of confusing logic gaps – which threw me off for a moment. In the beginning one man’s charmed creating a trope-ish ‘revenge on the main character’ drama – but in a line full of mage hopefuls no one seems to know how to detect it or run a counter charm. There was a Star Wars reference in a world full of magic – which is weird. There are also a lot of other situations set up where figuring out clever uses for magic is the real key – which the main characters do. I did enjoy the magic systems presented. There was a wide variety that made them feel distinct and interesting.
So, final verdict. If you like two points of view to follow, convoluted and interesting magic, female leads, Machiavellian shadow enemies, and nearly no romantic subplot – this story will be right up your alley. Contrariwise – if you don’t like these things…well, there’s always another book to peruse.