Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“One day, I’ll be a Warlord. But right now, we’re both amateurs in the field of magic.”
This one has been on my TBR list for so long and I am so happy to finally be sharing my review! Not only was it such an involving, exciting read, but it has also filled me with motivation and inspiration. If you’re a fan of fantasy and are looking for something fresh to read, this one is simply perfect. You’ll not be disappointed!
The Final Lesson by Shakyra Dunn follows the story of Leilana Erovina and her quest to become one of her realm’s Warlords. War is coming, and she has to survive out of her comfort zone if she has any hope of collecting magical totems and securing her title. The world of Adrylis is plunged into chaos, and Leilana joins an unlikely pair to survive and rebuild.
It was clear from the very first page of this book that the author has a very clever mind! Everything about the first chapter was magical, action-packed and enthralling, and it was impossible not to get drawn into what was happening. I was instantly curious; we’re introduced to a number of characters straight away, students who pair up and duel with one another, using the magic and skill they have studied. The beginning of the book reminded me so much of Harry Potter; the magical aspects combined with memorable scenes, which I absolutely loved! I found myself very keen to find out more about these characters and why it was so important to them to become Warlords.
The students are soon given the task of visiting Adrylis; the world outside of the school they have known for so long. The students are aware of the dangers that lie outside the school walls, and the nerves begin to set in. Would they survive out there? Will their magic and skill serve them well? With preparations underway, it’s more important than ever to ensure they are ready for what’s to come. I was certain there would be danger ahead, and was very curious to see how they would defend themselves and their peers, or whether they would at all… the Warlord title does sound like something not to be shared!
Every character we come across is so memorable – for example, Leilana, one of our main characters, seems to be an incredibly strong and brave girl, and Remiel seemed so mischievous and adventurous! The author has clearly spent time on these characters, and has created them in such detail that it’s impossible to find any flaw. No matter which character we follow at any one time, it was refreshing to read solid dialogue, experience their relationships with other characters and discover their personalities and how they deal with certain issues. Again, I was so impressed with these creations, and it made the reading experience much more enjoyable.
“Linmus was vast, but Adrylis was everything that he had been missing. All that he needed was to run.”
It isn’t long before trouble arrives and a fatal incident kills the King and Queen. There is terror in the village and no one knows what will come next. There is one thing for certain, however; Rem must flee and find safety before he too becomes the next victim. The story flows so well and at a great pace, and this is a fantasy book you can easily keep up with. I was excited to see how Rem and Leilana’s paths would cross and whether they’d be friends or foes. In my opinion, the book has a very impressive opening and I had no doubts that this would continue until the very end!
Things soon become more serious; Leilana and her peers get an insight into their past, present and future through tarot card readings, and they discover a horrifying secret about those who have become a Warlord in the past. Each chapter is so memorable, and in parts, very emotional too. We witness the loss of a friend quite early on in the book, which changes the mindset of many. What I really loved was the idea behind how the group collected their totems; something so different and unique, and it really made me want to keep reading to see how each totem was earned!
Leilana eventually finds herself torn from the group after an altercation with Amiria. However, when one door closes, another one opens. Leilana finds herself joining forces with Solus and Rem. Leilana and Rem don’t take too kindly to each other at the start due to a clashing of personality, but I felt like this group soon developed a special bond. How would their journey together progress? Would Rem find safety and security once more, and would Leilana succeed in becoming a Warlord? There was so much to discover at this point, and I was so keen to find out where these characters would travel and what they would experience along the way.
Their path was a struggle, but I really enjoyed the fighting and intense action scenes within the book, especially where Leilana and Amiria find themselves face to face with a Dirionus creature – a being of high stature and spiritual energy, which the author has made to sound absolutely terrifying! The girls go through so much and it was refreshing to see that Solus and Rem came to their aid. Even though trust was not established at this point, I felt this scene in particular cemented that bond together and made these characters realise that they do, in fact, need each other if they are to succeed in their plans.
“They knew little about each other, but he seemed to emanate a sense of calm far beyond any storm that he could execute.”
The story quickly becomes an unforgettable adventure, with our characters splitting up in search of what they truly desire. I really liked how we follow their separate stories from chapter to chapter, each more involving than the last. With so much danger, action and uncertainty along the way, it becomes easy to grow an attachment to each group of characters on their separate journeys. From the start, I grew particularly attached to Leilana – I thought she had the determination and willpower to succeed in her goals and is such a strong female lead in the book. Would each character get to where they want to be? Will they have proven themselves to gain that elusive Warlord title they most desperately craved?
With Rem’s illness slowly on the mend and big plans for the final leg of their journey, the end is finally in sight. Leilana is reunited with a familiar face, and soon demands answers. It was good to find out information from this character to solve some unanswered questions from the story. However, just when we think things are going the right way, we see another attack from a terrifying creature – as a reader, I feared for all the characters at this point; surely they wouldn’t be lucky enough to survive another attack?
I felt like this particular scene was one of my favourites in the book. We see all characters pulling together to save one another, and the description of how each character is feeling and how they attack this creature really impressed me. I think the author of the book has definitely found her niche! At this point, danger is consuming everyone and I had my worries – could this be the end for some of the characters we have grown to love? My anticipation for the end of the book was high, and I had everything crossed for a happy ending!
The last few chapters of the book were spectacular, with all characters showing bravery and determination when fear reared its head. With Rem in more danger than ever now his real identity is no longer a secret, the group must tread carefully and act fast if they are to stay safe and survive what’s yet to come. The author has kept things so exciting and intriguing throughout the ending, also experimenting with love, loss and friendship. I was really curious to see how the story would end.
“The stars above served as a reminder that life was continuing while it was at a standstill for others, lost to time, trapped in auroras that bound them to an unforeseen realm.”
Leilana gets a shock when she manages to communicate with someone she thought was lost forever, someone who is so close to giving her advice and assistance that would become invaluable to finding the Orb of Concord. After losing hope, Leilana needs the help of her new friends to see her through. Will the group ever find their final destination? Is becoming a Warlord even appealing to Leilana anymore? You’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out – a really great ending which will be explored more in the sequel!
A magical, awe-inspiring book like this one should be read by as many people as possible! The Final Lesson really sparked up my ever growing love for fantasy, and reading the author’s unique style of writing from start to finish is especially motivating for me. The book teaches about forgiveness, teamwork and working hard to get what you want, and is filled with lovable characters and a fantasy world that will be difficult to erase from your memory. I’d definitely recommend that fans of fantasy read this one – a perfect five stars from me!
A big congratulations to Shakyra Dunn on her captivating novel! You can purchase your own copy of The Final Lesson over on Amazon, available on Kindle and Paperback. Follow Shakyra over on Twitter and Instagram for more updates, and subscribe to her YouTube channel. (Her demos are INCREDIBLE!)
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