Several years ago when Schwab finished the original “Shades of Magic” trilogy, she left a door open to potentially revisit the series in the future. Apparently inspiration struck and we now have The Fragile Threads of Power to build upon the first trilogy. First off let me say that I unabashedly loved this book! I read it so quickly that once finished I started it over again to slow down and better absorb the whole story.
While Kell, Lila, Rhy, and Alucard are important characters, overall this is the story of Tes and Kosika. Tes can not only see the threads of magic, like Alucard, but can also physically manipulate them. While unable to conjure the elements, she can utilize existing magic to repair or improve magical items. Kosika is a new Antari in White London. The reawakening of magic in White London was attributed to Holland. After his death, it is decided that Kosika should rule to have another Antari on the throne. But no matter what she tries, magic remains weak in her world.
Kell’s magic is still broken from the events at the end of A Conjuring of Light. It physically hurts him to attempt even the simplest of magic. For twenty-two years his life revolved around his magical ability. For several years, Lila has been training Kell to blades to help him reestablish an identity without magic. Lila has been living her dream. When Alucard left being a privateer to become husband to Rhy, he gave her his ship and now she’s privateer to the crown. Alucard is the love of Rhy’s life, however a sovereign needs an heir to maintain their throne and to that end he married Nadiya. Nadiya is happy to have the Queenship but after giving birth to a a daughter, Ren, now keeps her own bedchamber, with Alucard sharing Rhy’s, and everyone is satisfied with this arrangement.
All is not well in Red London. There are those who feel that magic is weakening and point to the king having no magic of his own being the cause. A secret organization called the Hand is making moves to overthrow the crown. When a magical item is stolen from the floating market ship, Maris calls in the favor that is owed by Lila. Tes unknowingly becomes swept up in the Hand’s schemes and soon after finds herself mixed up with Lila and Kell. Kosika’s story runs parallel to this one but is sure to intersect in the next book.
Theoretically you can read this as a standalone. Schwab wrote it to try and let new readers into the world without having to read the first series. I think she did a good job with giving enough background info as needed. However, the story is much richer if you have read the previous books. A challenging part of The Fragile Threads of Power is the constant jumps back and forward in time. The main part of the story takes place seven years after the ending of A Conjuring of Light. However, to tell backstory, the narrative will leap back to seven years ago, six years ago, etc. It can be a little confusing at time so it’s important to pay attention to when events are taking place.
If you liked the “Shades of Magic” series, this is an absolutely must read follow up.