The Shadow Wand is the third book in Laurie Forest’s “The Black Witch Chronicles”. Even though this is a long way into the mythology of this series, it is the first time I have written about it. So lets start with a short set up into the wonderful world the author created.
The series mostly takes place in a land called Gardneria; its people are mages with various levels of magical ability. The children are wand tested to determine their magical ability and then trained accordingly. Some people have no ability to access their magic while others are very strong, so the rating scale is basically 1-5. The main character is Elloren Gardner, she has been tested and has no access to magic…or so you are supposed to believe. Some people consider this a great shame since she is the granddaughter of the last uber powerful Black Witch; Elloren even looks exactly like her grandmother. Elloren’s uncle lets her go to school to learn to become an apothecary and while at school the truth of her magic begins to unfold.
Mages in Gardernia are separatists and they think that mages should only socialize with mages, and oh by the way in their mind mages should rule everything and all other races should serve them. There are other magical races like the fae, lupines, selkies, and more. Elloren was raised to be more tolerant than the average mage so she makes friends with a whole host of unlikely people.
Flash forward to the current book. Elloren now knows that she is the next Black Witch and is even more powerful than her grandmother. Her uncle tried to keep her safe by binding her magic but now she has access to all of her power. But she is untrained and dangerous to everyone including herself. At the beginning of the book we get an update on a few key players from the previous books, which is nice but by the end of the book feels weird because you go literally hundreds of pages without picking up those stories again. So I am going to jump to the main story.
The main story starts with Elloren’s allies, the Vu Trin, wand testing her to see how powerful she really is. The amount of fire she calls is so much more than expected that her allies are split on whether to let her live or not. One faction thinks she is too dangerous and wants to kill her, the other wants to train her and use her as a weapon in the coming war against the evil mage Vogel, who is currently in charge of Gardneria. He is basically trying to wipe out all other races and take over the world (sound familiar right, think WWII).
Chi Nam manages to keep her people from killing Elloren but knows the victory is short lived. She has one of her warriors take Elloren back to Gardneria where she can hide with her fast mate, Lucas Gray. Never mind that Elloren ran away from him and they are not on good terms. It is her only chance to have someone protect her from being killed. But can Elloren trust him; he is a high ranking mage in Vogels army. Elloren has not choice, she has to take the chance. To complicate matters, though Elloren was forced to become fasted (engaged) to Lucas she loves another.
The reader already knows at this point what Elloren does not, Lucas is not really fighting for Vogel, he is trying to take him down from within. As the story unfolds Elloren begins to realize that everything is not exactly as it seems. Lucas agrees to protect her and eventually helps to teach Elloren how to fight and use her magic. They spend a lot of the book running away from people trying to kill or capture Elloren. Of course there are some other twists along the way.
This book was a great read and it was nice to explore other sides of well known characters. I did feel that the internal conflict Elloren feels is a bit repetitive like her internal monolog does not change for a long time. Yes we get it, you are conflicted about a lot of things. But other than that, this was an excellent continuation of a fascinating world and I am eagerly awaiting the next installment.
If you have not read the series start with The Black Witch and enjoy catching up. I hope you all enjoy the series/book as much as I did and feel free to comment.