The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik

Read September 2022
Recommended for fans of the Scholomance
★   ★   ★   ★  

This isn’t your childhood Harry Potter.

“I didn’t want to get up and go on in the world, agreeing that it was in any way acceptable for the world to keep going itself.”

This is not a comfortable read. A friend noted that I had shown a lot of enthusiasm for this series, and it’s true, I have. Novik blends intense emotion with unremitting danger, and the combination makes for an intoxicating, immersive read. Book three in the series is no different.

“But they’d loved Orion only in exactly the same way they’d hated me. Neither one of us were ever people to them. He just made himself useful, and I refused to.”

But not always a fun one, and of the trilogy, this one will cut the deepest. Also of the three, this one felt like it had the most filler material. My thoughts on this are subject to change, as I discuss further with my buddies and as I go through a second, more leisurely read.

From here on out, there will be general/thematic spoilers. You have been warned.

I’ll be honest–big surprise, I know–there’s a lot of filler here. I can’t even tell you what all of it is about, but much is about pocket dimensions. Some of it is how the Scholomance is hidden. Another chunk is El running her personal gerbil wheel of emotions and events relating to Orion. I think the repetitiveness around that is part of what provides the emotional intensity and frustration of the book. El’s always been single-minded–they all have, to survive Scholomance–so although this should probably be no surprise to the reader, it does make for a more jarring experience witnessing her being unable and unwilling to fit into the outside world.

On the positive side, Novik has done something amazing, and woven LeGuin’s Omelas story into her book. I’m still a little stunned at how well it was accomplished.

It’s also–and this is really fascinating–one of the most female centric books I’ve read in a long time, notwithstanding Orion’s role (which still manages to be more thoughtful than the gender-traditional Senlin Ascends). Male characters are quite adjacent. Really quite impressive.

Thankfully, this time there’s no cliffhanger ending.

Four and a half golden stars.

thanks to Jennifer, Nataliya, Samuel for the buddy read! And Emily and Emma for all the discussion!


About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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15 Responses to The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik

  1. I compared it to Lord of the Rings too… I think because of her excellent world-building. Novik is finnier. Less grim. Not better, of course, but different. And yes, Le Guin’s “Omegas.” I can see that.

    • thebookgator says:

      have you read the last book yet? The last book is g-r-i-m.

      • I have read all three, including the last one and did not find it the least bit grim. Realistic. And that is the contrast to LOTR, which I found deeply depressing the first time through to the end, as best I can recall. The Golden Enclaves does not have a pretty fairy-tale ending. (Thank goodness.) But a practical, yes-this-will-be-manageable-for-a-while-and-then-we’ll-move-on-from-there sort of way.

      • And darn that auto-correct. “funnier” and “Omelas”

        I used to be so careful to proofread…

  2. Nataliya says:

    I really want to reread the whole series now. If you embark on a reread one of these days, let me know! (And now I have no excuse to not go back to Cage of Souls, although it may be the very first time with Tchaikovsky that I’m not exactly tempted to).

  3. Pingback: Runner by Patrick Lee | book reviews forevermore

  4. Ola G says:

    I’m on board for the first read, re-read or any other reads in between! 😉

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