The Last Graduate: A Novel (The Scholomance) - book cover
  • Publisher : Del Rey
  • Published : 28 Sep 2021
  • Pages : 400
  • ISBN-10 : 0593128869
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593128862
  • Language : English

The Last Graduate: A Novel (The Scholomance)

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The specter of graduation looms large as Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking, New York Times bestselling trilogy continues in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education.

In Wisdom, Shelter. That’s the official motto of the Scholomance. I suppose you could even argue that it’s true—only the wisdom is hard to come by, so the shelter’s rather scant. 
Our beloved school does its best to devour all its students—but now that I’ve reached my senior year and have actually won myself a handful of allies, it’s suddenly developed a very particular craving for me. And even if I somehow make it through the endless waves of maleficaria that it keeps throwing at me in between grueling homework assignments, I haven’t any idea how my allies and I are going to make it through the graduation hall alive. 
Unless, of course, I finally accept my foretold destiny of dark sorcery and destruction. That would certainly let me sail straight out of here. The course of wisdom, surely.
But I’m not giving in—not to the mals, not to fate, and especially not to the Scholomance. I’m going to get myself and my friends out of this hideous place for good—even if it’s the last thing I do.

With keen insight and mordant humor, Novik reminds us that sometimes it is not enough to rewrite the rules—sometimes, you need to toss out the entire rulebook.

The magic of the Scholomance trilogy will continue in 2022

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Last Graduate

"[The Last Graduate] rips along like a force of nature. In the abstract, this is a story about relying on others-but in the concrete, it is about how to survive when the odds are against you. As she did with [A Deadly Education], Novik changes the game again with the very last line."-Locus
"Truly one of the best fantasy series out there right now, and it's not close."-Culturess

"[The Last Graduate] is as compulsive a read as [A Deadly Education]. As a warning, it ends on another killer cliffhanger."-BuzzFeed
"Naomi Novik's Scholomance series, about kids at a preposterously deadly magical school, stands out in a ridiculously crowded field. Its sheer viciousness, its grim humor, and its complicated interpersonal politics are an immediate draw."-Polygon

"The climatic graduation-day battle will bring cheers, tears, and gasps as the second of the Scholomance trilogy closes with a breathtaking cliff-hanger."-Booklist (starred review)

"Sardonic students, gruesome monsters, growing friendships, and a touch of romance create a highly readable story. Some questions remain to be answered in the trilogy's last volume. The end of this installment ensures that book three can't come fast enough."-Library Journal (starred review)

Praise for A Deadly Education

"Eyeball-meltingly brilliant-Novik is, quite simply, a genius."-Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of And I Darken

"Naomi Novik has written the wizard-school book that we all deserve! Constant peril, a fresh magic system, and a deeper discussion of how educational inequality currently functions than I ever expected to see in fantasy."-Hank Green, author of A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor

"Novik skillfully combines sharp humor with layers of imagination to build a fantasy that delights on every level."-Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Caraval series

"The Scholomance is the dark school of magic I've been waiting for."-Katherine Arden, New York Times bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale

"A gorgeous book about monsters and monstrousness, chockablock with action, cleverness, and wit."-Holly Black, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Readers Top Reviews

Peter RihanWatergyps
Greatly enjoyed these books. El’s acerbic commentary and observations had me laughing out loud at times. The concept was engaging and I devoured each of the books in one sitting. The odd spelling or usage glitch did not detract from my enjoyment. Sadly it seems this is the end of the story though there are some intriguing loose ends … destroying the Scholomance surely does not remove all the mals in the world and someone (El?) is going to need to find a way to save Orion. Possibly room for a follow up?
Once again a book I picked up and didn't put down until I finished it. Not exactly on the worldbuilding level of the first book, but seriously... that end. The whole story solution is elegant, gripping, and emotional. Read the first book. Read the second book. Read them again. Will there be a third? I don't know. The end of the second book is vicious and perfect. But I'd love a third one, because I do enjoy this dark, brutal world a lot.
Damn the ending! It leaves you believing that this could be the end of the series, and it would work brilliantly however bittersweet, but it also leaves the reader really desperate for it not to be the actual ending, desperate for just one more book in the series. And then you're left wondering about some of the open questions such as the prophecies around the female lead, and how exactly she brings about the end or destruction of the elite enclaves something her great-great-grandmother interpreted as bringing death and destruction on a horrendous villainous scale. But what if it isn't that obvious? What if she brings the elite enclave to an end by destroying the reasons for building enclave in the first place, by making the world outside of them safe for everyone? And if they have finally rid the world of the monsters, then maybe there's no place for the main male character out in that world anymore because what good is a monster killer without monsters? SO maybe this is the final book. But I so want there to be another ending. I want the female lead to get her own vision come true, to make the protection of enclaves available to everyone, by using what she's learned and sharing it with the people outside of the elite enclaves? I want her to find a way for the male character to keep learning, to want things other than monster killing, or maybe to keep killing the monsters that are still left in the world, the human ones, the maleficers. And a little bit desperate went to check on the author's site & looked for confirmation another book was coming - YES!!!!
Lucinda A.
Was it worth staying up all night to read the sequel? Maybe not. Would I do it again? Hell yeah! Contrary to other reviews here, I wasn’t really impressed with the world building. Unless all the details about the design of Scholomance turn out to be incredibly relevant in the third volume, those didn’t seem necessary to advance the plot. For the first quarter of the book, the main characters are also, frankly, a bit of a bore. Orion is as schematic as ever (his mode: on/off), and El—despite being delightfully smart and sarcastic—seems to indulge quite often in the pity party of “I can kill the world with a burp, poor strong me” variety. But, once we get over that hurdle, the action picks up nicely, in a blend of “Hunger Games” and “Ender’s Game,” culminating with what everyone has already described as the mother of all cliffhangers. I loved how the last half of the book built toward the final. I still don’t think that the motivation for the final action is fully fleshed out (a bit too much self-righteousness for that), but there is a sense of inevitability about the final that the entire series so far has been hinting toward. We don’t have a lot of answers at the end (if anything, the plot thickens), but we have romance, acceptance, noble deeds, and collective strategizing. That will have to last us until the third volume.
J. HansesKindle
With the optimism of youth, our heroes devise a plan to save every child from the mals awaiting them in the world, removing the reason for the Scholomance's death march to graduation. El can graduate a hero rather than an evil sorceress and everyone can go home with plans to call each other afterwards. It ends about where you'd expect. Overall, I'm happy to have the second entry in the series, and I look forward to seeing where the graduates go from here. My only question is: Did they lose an editor along the way? The initial book had to world build because it was a new world and had to introduce characters and setting. The second book had to restate some of the previous world building for new readers. Unfortunately, it then gets carried away with restating the same information over and over and over again. Did you hear that Bangkok enclave got destroyed and China and the US were looking at going to war over it? It seems that the book really really really wants you to remember this info. It's a book and the info isn't even relevant to THIS story. If we forget, we can always go back and reread. And it's not even restated in new and interesting ways to try to reach people who might retain information differently. It's part of the endless narrative world building globs that keep me from rating this book higher. An editor really should have struck this info out in red pen when it reappeared. Or at least requested the author reframe it in dialogue to vary the presentation and make it relevant to someone even as a lesson. We're even given a great set up for that, as El is shut into a room with 8 freshmen every Wednesday, and they could talk and explain things to each other and give opinions. But no. It's spoon fed world building globs for you, dear reader. So if you liked the first book, definitely read the second. The overall story and concept is still entertaining. But expect to feel kind of tired and bored at various points as the narrative constantly digresses in ways that are repetitive and apropos of nothing.

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter 1


Keep far away from Orion Lake.

Most of the religious or spiritual people I know-­and to be fair, they're mostly the sort of people who land in a vaguely pagan commune in Wales, or else they're terrified wizard kids crammed into a school that's trying to kill them-­regularly beseech a benevolent and loving all-­wise deity to provide them with useful advice through the medium of miraculous signs and portents. Speaking as my mother's daughter, I can say with authority that they wouldn't like it if they got it. You don't want mysterious unexplained advice from someone you know has your best interests at heart and whose judgment is unerringly right and just and true. Either they'll tell you to do what you want to do anyway, in which case you didn't need their advice, or they'll tell you to do the opposite, in which case you'll have to choose between sullenly following their advice, like a little kid who has been forced to brush her teeth and go to bed at a reasonable hour, or ignoring it and grimly carrying on, all the while knowing that your course of action is guaranteed to lead you straight to pain and dismay.

If you're wondering which of those two options I picked, then you must not know me, as pain and dismay were obviously my destination. I didn't even need to think about it. Mum's note was infinitely well-­meant, but it wasn't long: My darling girl, I love you, have courage, and keep far away from Orion Lake. I read the whole thing in a single glance and tore it up into pieces instantly, standing right there among the little freshmen milling about. I ate the scrap with Orion's name on it myself and handed the rest out at once.

"What's this?" Aadhya said. She was still giving me narrow-­eyed indignation.

"It lifts the spirits," I said. "My mum put it in the paper."

"Yes, your mum, Gwen Higgins," Aadhya said, even more coolly. "Who you've mentioned so often to us all."

"Oh, just eat it," I said, as irritably as I could manage after having just downed my own piece. The irritation wasn't as hard to muster up as it might've been. I can't think of anything I've missed in here, including the sun, the wind, or a night's sleep in safety, nearly as much as I've missed Mum, so that's what the spell gave me: the feeling of being curled up on her bed with my head in her lap and her hand stroking gently over my hair, the smell of the herbs she works with, the faint croaking of frogs outside the open door and the wet earth of a Welsh spring. It would've lifted my spirits enormously if only I hadn't been worrying deeply at the same time what she was trying to tell me about Orion.

The fun possibilities were endless. The best one was that he was doomed to die young and horribly, which given his penchant for heroics was reasonably predictable anyway. Unfortunately, falling in something or other with a doomed hero isn't the sort of thing Mum would warn me off. She's very much of the gather ye rosebuds while ye may school of thought.

Mum would only warn me off something bad, not something painful. So obviously Orion was the most brilliant maleficer ever, concealing his vile plans by saving the lives of everyone over and over just so he could, I don't know, kill them himself later on? Or maybe Mum was worried that he was so annoying that he'd drive me to become the most brilliant maleficer ever, which was probably more plausible, since that's supposedly my own doom anyway.

Of course, the most likely option was that Mum didn't know herself. She'd just had a bad feeling about Orion, for no reason she could've told me even if she'd written me a ten-­page letter on both sides. A feeling so bad that she'd hitchhiked all the way to Cardiff to find the nearest incoming freshman, and she'd asked his parents to send me her one-­gram note. I reached out and poked Aaron in his tiny skinny shoulder. "Hey, what did Mum give your parents for bringing the message?"

He turned round and said uncertainly, "I don't think she did? She said she didn't have anything to pay with, but she asked to talk to them in private, and then she gave it to me and my mam squeezed a bit of my toothpaste out to make room."

That might sound like nothing, but nobody wastes any of their inadequate four-­year weight allowance on ordinary toothpaste; I brush with baking soda out of the alchemy lab supply cabinets myself. If Aaron had brought any at all, it was enchanted in some way: useful when you aren't going to see a dentist for the next four years. He could have traded that one squeeze of it to someone with bad toothache for a week of extra dinners, easily. And his parents had taken that away from their own kid-­Mum had asked his parents to take that away from their own kid-­just to ...