The Last Days of Magic: A Novel
In The Last Days of Magic Mark Tompkins has woven together a beautiful tapestry, the warp and weft a tumultuous crossing of pagan faith and Christian fervour, of all that was and all that would come to be.
This epic story, spanning centuries, lies nested within the story of Sara, a young college student whose family is more special than she knows. The inner, larger story concerns Aisling and Anya, two aspects of the triple goddess, Morrigna. Annan is the third, the deep heart of the sunder-souled goddess. Yet, like the goddess herself, there are more parts to this story. We also follow the mercenary Jordan, who works for the Vatican. Charged with eliminating the faerie-folk from Ireland, and establishing the rule of the Pope in those lands, Jordan has secrets of his own.
Most of the story switches between Aisling and the Irish, as distinct storylines play out, and Jordan as he helps prepare an invasion force to Ireland. Aisling and Anya, as human aspects of the Morrigna, must learn to harness and channels Annan’s energy, and they must do so before invaders arrive. Trouble strikes, though, crippling the twins’ power. Meanwhile, Jordan and his masters enlist the aid of traitor fae to breach the magical protections surrounding Ireland, as well as in getting past the Fomorians who guard the waters. What follows is a clash of cultures unlike any other, with reverberations echoing down through the ages.
This cover is beautiful, in stunning simplicity. I also loved the fact that one of the main characters bears the Gaelic version of my Welsh name. Aislynn= Aisling. Pretty neat since both are rather uncommon. While I am unsure of the historical accuracy, even for an alternative world, I found the dispersal of funds for the Irish campaign fascinating. It makes a perfect logical sense for the time frame. It’s the type of small detail that I find isn’t usually taken into account and I rather enjoyed it. I really liked that Patrick, while Christian, still respected the Old Ways, and did not berate the Irish their pagan roots, unlike Colmcille. One thing I did find a bit puzzling was Ty’s brief inclusion. It seemed a little random, with the sole purpose of serving one goal that could have likely been achieved in a different fashion. I thought he was a neat character, and would have welcomed the chance to know him better.
Tompkins has created an epic myth in The Last Days of Magic, couching the seed of truth regarding the destruction early Christianity wrought on the native faiths of the British Isles, and other places they encroached upon. This story makes me think of the movie Knowing, where people have encountered these beings through time, and seen them as fae, angels, demons, or even aliens depending on cultural perspective. I highly recommend this book to any fan of epic fantasy.
Mark L. Tompkins