A Marvellous Light (The Last Binding, 1) - book cover
Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Publisher : Tordotcom; 1st edition
  • Published : 02 Nov 2021
  • Pages : 384
  • ISBN-10 : 1250788870
  • ISBN-13 : 9781250788870
  • Language : English

A Marvellous Light (The Last Binding, 1)

An Indie Next Pick!
A LibraryReads Pick!
With Four Starred Reviews

Red, White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in debut author Freya Marske's A Marvellous Light, featuring an Edwardian England full of magic, contracts, and conspiracies.

Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He's struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents' excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what's been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he's always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it―not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin's predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they've been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles―and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.

Editorial Reviews

An Indie Next Pick!
A Library Reads Pick!
With Four Starred Reviews

"Freya Marske has done something special with A Marvellous Light. . . . The prose is sublime, the world-building top-notch, and the magic system is fascinating and unique. But what made me the happiest is how delightfully queer this story is. Robin and Edward have my whole heart, and I adored watching their relationship blossom. In the end, I can give no higher praise than this: I wish this world that Marske has created was real."―TJ Klune, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The House in the Cerulean Sea

"Mystery! Magic! Murder! Long looks full of yearning! This book is a confection, both marvelous and light."―Alix E. Harrow, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Once and Future Witches

"Sensual erotic scenes, an intriguing magic system, and a puzzling mystery combine to make this novel a wonder. Fans of C.L. Polk's Witchmark, period queer novels, and creative fantasy will all clamor for more."―Publishers Weekly, *Starred Review*

"Marske's debut is a delightful blend of Edwardian fantasy and romance, with enough twists and questions to have readers clamoring for the next in the planned series."―Library Journal, *Starred Review*

"This trilogy opener is sure to capture the hearts of romance and fantasy readers alike."―Booklist, *Starred Review*

"Robin and Edwin's relationship anchors the narrative, and the way that they challenge and question and then accept each other is captivating. Marske deftly contrasts the couple's affection with the stuffiness of the world that surrounds them, making their love all the more relevant."―BookPage, *Starred Review*

"That sublime prose! Her astonishing gift for imagery! And, of course, her bountiful and endless talent for writing some extremely sexy scenes. A Marvellous Light is all that and more. Perfect."―Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings

"Freya Marske's A Marvellous Light is an absolute delight. I was caught from the very beginning by the compellingly realized characters, the gorgeous and deadly magical world, and the fascinating mystery. If you ever wished Downton Abbey was sharper-edged and full of magic, this is the book for you."―Kat Howard, author of An Unkindness of Magicians

"This romantic fantasy is full of fascinating world-building, layers upon layers of delicious magic, and characters I adored. I want to spend so much more time in this alternate England's enchanted libraries and sinister hedge mazes! The whole experience was a delight."―Stephanie Burgis, author of Snowspelled

Readers Top Reviews

Sherry M.
All the praise for this book is well deserved. It’s terrific! The publisher is marketing it as a combination of Red, White & Royal Blue and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but I think the comparison to those books is very loose. True, it’s set in an alternate England with magic, and the leads, Robin and Edwin, don’t exactly see eye to eye at first. But to me, this novel reads more like C. L. Polk’s Witchmark in setting and tone. As in Polk’s book, magical families live in secret among ordinary people, sometimes using their gifts in service to their nation. Very ordinary Sir Robert Blyth gets introduced to their world when he accidentally is assigned to work in a government office that liaises between magic users and the Prime Minister of Edwardian England. His new job quickly turns dangerous when Robin is targeted by shadowy magicians who believe he knows where his predecessor hid something they desperately want to find. Robin must turn to his official counterpart, Edwin Courcey, for help in lifting the painful curse that they laid on him and the visions of the future it triggers. The two of them become caught up in figuring out the mystery of what these magicians are looking for to save themselves and others from their ruthless hunt. Everything about this book is great—the worldbuilding, the magical system, the plot—all of it. The setting is generally faithful to the history of the period, with the story touching on issues of class, race, sexuality, and gender in Edwardian society. The novel also adds another layer of social division within the magical community, between those who have power and those who have little or none, who are usually treated with pity and derision. Edwin is one of those with little personal power, so he’s devoted himself to the academic study of magic, which in this world involves making complicated cat’s cradle-style hand gestures to guide intention. Edwin’s deep knowledge of magic turns out to be pivotal in lifting Robin’s curse and countering the schemes of the nefarious magicians. And although the storyline involves lots of library research, Edwin and Robin also have some exciting adventures along the way, including one episode that takes place in a hedge maze that would be excellent on film. The novel is billed as a historical fantasy, but it is also very much a romance, a lovely example of the hurt/comfort trope. Looked down on and mistreated by his family and other magicians, Edwin has learned to protect himself from being hurt by holding himself aloof. He’s afraid of his growing feelings for bluff and hearty Robin, who seems more like his bullies than someone who could return his affections. Eventually, though, Robin’s good nature and kind heart break down Edwin’s walls, and Robin proves to Edwin that he is loved. As they fall for each other, there are some wonderfully swoony ro...
A beautifully captivating fantasy set in Edwardian England with magicians, mystery, humor, and slow burn m/m romance that gets blazing hot! Robin and Edwin are main characters you will gladly invest in. Sir Robert (Robin) is not a magician. Edwin is a magician without much magic at all. Robin is mistakenly appointed to a position because his predecessor Reggie has disappeared. As the two, who are seemingly opposites in every way, work together to solve the mystery of Reggie's disappearance, and their forced proximity grows into something more. Great banter and dry humor add to the sexual tension between these two and are on point for Edwardian London. There are meals that are plated beautifully with visible care shown to every intricate detail. Anticipation is almost unbearable, but the first bite is a delicate balance of flavors. The second bite adds something bold and unexpected, and the third brings even more surprises. You become torn between devouring and savoring. That is this book with one exception. You don't have to make the decision. The harmony between all the components sets the pace for you. The extensive world building and character development coupled with the slow burn romance allow you to savor every beautiful word. There are magical mysteries to solve, curses to break, and bursts of excitement thanks to some interesting characters and magical estates that compel you forward. Okay, so the "when will they..." aspect of the romance is undeniably a page turner too. Let me tell you that when they inevitably do... OH MY WOW (yes the sex is explicit)! It’s worth the wait! Final thoughts: This is novel says so much about finding the fortitude to move forward despite things and people and your own insecurities that make life hard. It’s beautifully done. I loved where this ended, and I'm excited to see what happens next in this trilogy! I will be recommending this to absolutely everyone. Thank you to NetGalley for your ARC of this book.
Tony Lindsey
An excellent, distinctive story, and very well told. I am eager for the sequels! I would have loved to have found this book half a century ago, but I am glad that it exists now!