What an amazing series this is and what an incredible final book! Joseph Elliot's 'The Shadow Skye' series has been utterly enthralling and 'The Burning Swift' is its thrilling, triumphant conclusion. I can't recommend this enough. My reviews of 'The Good Hawk' here and 'The Broken Raven' here.
After the sgàilean have been defeated, Jamie, Agatha and Sigrid must work to reunite the people of Scotia. But the terrible kings of Ingland and Norveg are preparing for war; a huge army is on the move to attack Skye. Can Jamie master the strange blood magic with help from the powerful but seemingly cowardly Badhbh? Can Sigrid gather together two rebellions, one from Norveg and one from the women of the North of Ingland? And can Agatha use her ability to communicate with animals to summon beasts to their aid?
As multiple narratives converge towards an adrenaline-pounding final battle, 'The Burning Swift' grows with excitement, twists and spectacular set-pieces. Without spoiling the many surprises, Joseph Elliot wraps up so many threads in a completely satisfying and thrilling way. The voices of Jamie, Sigrid and Agatha have never been so involving and their journeys are resolved in the most incredible fashion. In fact, I love these characters and I am so sad to let them go.
While 'The Shadow Skye' series may be set in an alternative, ancient Scotland, it is very much for our times too. Jamie's story is one about acceptance: of his anxieties, his inner strength and his sexuality. I was moved by his relationship with Cray, and Elliot brings nuance, sensitivity and a lot of heart to this story line. Agatha's story is about her bravery in spite or even because of her condition. She is hands-down one of the best characters in children's fiction ever - just you wait until you see what she does at the end! Sigrid's story is about rebellion, of standing up for higher values and belonging. I loved her sense of determination and loyalty. Add to these narratives strange magic, disturbing beasts and shadows, huge battles and other fabulous secondary characters and you have one hell of a book! Joseph Elliot deserves all the acclaim he can get for an absolutely riveting fantasy series.
Thank you so much to Walker Books for my copies to review.