This is a spoiler free review. What started in A Deadly Education, and continued in The Last Graduate, is now concluded in The Golden Enclaves. This series immediately grabbed me from the get go. Cantankerous El quickly found a place in my heart, along with her companions. Their harrowing adventures had me constantly engaged. I found the world setting and magic system fascinating. Novik kept me continuously curious about the workings of the world and I reveled with each reveal. The cliffhanger endings of book one and two left me eagerly waiting for the next volume.
The world building and magic system continue to be top notch. I think I gasped out loud at the reveal of how typical Enclaves are created, and therefore the difference between them and those created using the Golden Enclave spell. It was captivating visiting the different Enclaves and seeing the ways each group formed their magical communities. Adventures continued to be exciting but as the book progressed I found it began to be a bit tiresome spending so much time in El’s head. There felt like a lot of repetition in her internal monologue that had me occasionally tuning out. Having my mind wander didn’t happen in books one and two. The result was this book didn’t land quite the same way as they did.
Novik has stated several times that the Scholomance books are an environmental allegory. Maleficaria are created when wizards cheat and don’t use pure mana. Every time we use a disposable water bottle instead of a refillable we are creating something that pollutes the planet. Far less plastics are recycled than the average person is willing to admit to themselves. El has worked incredibly hard to be pure mana as she recognizes it’s such a slippery slope to just take the easy way. Single use utensils and dishware make picnics far easier but have lasting environmental impact. In the book, El’s solution is that magic users need to share resources better and work together, and they start by building Golden Enclaves. If we truly want to stop relying on fossils fuels to make so many of our things, and drive so many sectors of our economy, we need every level of society from government, to corporations, and individuals working together to achieve necessary climate goals.
If you’ve read the first two books then this is absolutely necessary reading. Overall, I did enjoy The Golden Enclaves and highly recommend the series as a whole. I liked watching El’s journey from the beginning of A Deadly Education to now. The Golden Enclaves does not neatly wrap everything up in a pretty bow, which I appreciate. However, El has a happy ending and that’s all I’ve ever hoped for her.
Note: I made the eye symbol from the emblem on the book cover for the bingo square.