I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This urban fantasy that was published by Tor Books on April 2, 2013 and has 304 pages.
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Other books by this author include Unnatural Issue, "The River's Gift", Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar, Foundation, Intrigues, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit, Owlknight, Charmed Destinies, Changes, Beauty and the Werewolf, Invasion, Home From the Sea, Dead Reckoning, Conspiracies, Bedlam's Edge, Crown of Vengeance, Redoubt, Harvest Moon, World Divided, Elemental Magic: All New Tales of the Elemental Masters, Steadfast, Burdens of the Dead, Bastion, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Games Creatures Play, Closer to Home, Born to Run, Wheels of Fire, When the Bough Breaks, Chrome Circle, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Arcanum 101, A Tangled Web, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar
Third in the Shadow Grail urban fantasy series for Young Adults and revolving around a very small cadre of school kids attempting to survive a curse in which all involved with Arthur’s kingdom are “doomed to be reborn over and over until either the Shadow or the Grail triumphs”.
Ohhh, Spirit’s memories of the accident that claimed her family are starting to come back. Probably triggered by what Spirit learned in Conspiracies, 2!
Heck, Spirit and her friends thought life at Oakhurst was bad before. It almost seems like a paradise now that the Shadow Knights have taken over. And Lackey and Edghill really crank up the tension on this.
Sacrifices is a terrifying balancing act as the kids try to figure out who’s who and on which side they fall amongst their fellow students, the faculty, and the Breakthrough employees. Friendships must be fiercely hidden even as Spirit and her friends must ferret out the Shadow Knights’ plans. And people must be saved, no matter the cost.
“It’s like Where’s Waldo?, except now with added mortal peril,” Muirin sniped.
Yes, it’s tense and comes with drama galore. At times I started to think of it as a bridge story, but too much happens. Much too much that will shock you into groping for that box of Kleenex.
The authors do drive me nuts with the vague hints they drop of who of today matches up with the Grail or Shadow Knights, although they do fill in the blanks on a number of characters. I will confess that it’s strong enough to make me crazy about having to wait for #4 so I can verify my own suspicions as to who Arthur, Guinevere, and Gawain have been reincarnated as!
The Shadow Knights have taken over and everything has changed from elegant dining to barracks-style brawls. Classes are brutal with an emphasis on combat and survival. Survival according to the Shadow Knights. The new curriculum makes the old look like a walk through Disney on a bright and sunny day.
Now, friendships can lead to death, and each of the friends will be tempted to join the Dark Side.
Spirit White lost her family and learned the truth behind that loss. And she’s still at a loss as to why because she has no magic. QUERCUS is the one secret she’s kept even from her friends; the one who arranged for her Internet access outside the school.
Muirin Shae, an Air Witch, is a snob who loves to flout the rules, and she’s hangin’ with the Shadow Knights now. Ovcharenko in particular. Addie is the heir to Prester-Lake BioCo, and a Water Witch who just wants to get out of here. Loch Spears has some minor Gifts: Shadewalking and Kenning from the School of Air and Pathfinding from the School of Earth. He’s also gay and sort of still in the closet. Burke Hallows, a Combat Mage, an orphan who learned the truth of his foster parents’ murders, and he’s in love with Spirit.
Kelly Langley is “one of the nicer proctors”; Gareth Stevenson is okay; and, Joe Rogers has simply gotten worse. Trinity Brown refuses to take Dylan’s place. Dylan Williams, a Jaunting mage, had been the official ringleader back in Conspiracies; now he’s Ovcharenko’s chew toy.
Poor Spirit is forced onto the dance committee with Maddie Harris (Water), Kylee Williamson (Energy), Zoey Young (Fire), Christopher Terry (Weather), and Dylan. The Townies who make up the other half of the joint dance committee include Juliette Weber and her twin brother, Brett — obviously the king and queen of Macalister High; Veronica “Couch” Davenport is a fat girl everyone picks on; Kennedy Lewis is the class “bad” girl; the giggler, Erica Bass; Brenda Copeland who just has to talk about her dad — the Sheriff — all the time; and, Bella. Tom and Adam Phillips are the local townies drafted to the dance committee.
Elizabeth Walker (her Arthurian identity is as Yseult of Cornwall, Mark’s wife, and Tristan’s lover) is the student whose dreams provide the kernel of truth to Spirit.
Dr. Ambrosius is the headmaster. Mrs. Corby is his personal assistant although she lacks magic, and Devon is a supervisor of the Boys’ Dorm Wing; both are Ambrosius’ bodyguards. Ms. Jane Smith is the math teacher who likes to break everyone down. Dr. MacKenzie (Fire) is the school shrink whom everyone is supposed to visit. Ms. Bradford is the school nurse. Beckett Green is a Combat Mage brought in to help teach the defense classes — and appeal to Burke. Mia Singleton teaches the Endurance Riding class. Anastus Leontivich Ovcharenko (Agravaine), a member of the Russian Bratva or mafia and Breakthrough’s head of security, is teaching the defense classes with an emphasis on hurting his chosen victim. Ms. Lily Groves teaches History of Magic and intends to do some private tutoring with Spirit.
Camelot, the Grail Knights
High Queen Guinevere intends to carry on with Arthur’s legacy. The Merlin, the Archdruid of Eire, the Bishop of England, and the White Horse Woman were involved in carrying out Mordred’s sentence.
The Shadow Knights
Mordred, Arthur’s illegitimate son and a mage, had engineered Arthur’s fall and the “burial” of The Merlin. Nimue was once his ally.
Breakthrough Adventure Systems is the new big employer in Radial run by Mark Rider (King Mark of Cornwall) and Theodore Rider. They are the Shadow Knights taking over the school. Madison Lane-Rider is supermodel-perfect, Mark’s wife, and she takes over the History of Magic class. Clark Howard is a coder. Ken Abrams, Judy, and Brian are all in Graphic Design. Mandy Poole is a technician.
The Hellriders were a motorcycle gang who inhabited Oakhurst before Dr. Ambrosius took it over. Stephen “Wolfman” Wolferman was a member whose three-county chase and the Hellrider Massacre was written about in a news article. Kenny is the gang member who saved Wolfman’s life. Detectives Bethany Mitchell and Thomas Carter are from the Sheriff’s Office in Radial.
The Riders are a modern Wild Hunt on horses and snowmobiles. Oakhurst Academy, a posh boarding school only for future magicians who have been orphaned, is in the middle of Montana near the tiny town of Radial. The school has never encouraged the students to make friends with each other, grading them on everything including their Christmas gifts. But now it’s worse. The Gatekeepers were thought to be a secret society within Oakhurst.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a battle stance of Spirit in her below-the-knee turquoise gown with its stardust shrug against (or back-to-back with!) Muirin in black lace and lamé, both wearing dresses provided by Breakthrough for the school dance.
The title presages events, the Sacrifices that will be made.