Final Book of The Last Apprentice Series
Author: Joseph Delaney
Category: YA Fantasy
This is the thirteenth book in the series that follows young Tom Ward, a seventh son of a seventh son, through his apprenticeship with the County Spook, a man that deals with agents of the Dark, such as boggarts, ghosts, witches and the Fiend. During the course of his training, Tom has learned about his calling and about himself, made mistakes, made enemies, battled the Fiend, and fallen in love with a young witch named Alice Deane.
I loved this series from the first book. The enemies Tom fought alongside Old Gregory the Spook were interesting and frightening enough, though probably more scary for a younger reader than myself. The overall story arc, the battle with the Fiend, was years in the making. Like all wars, battles were lost and battles were won; Tom had to question himself and learn to make difficult choices, often going against his master and mentor, Old Gregory. Tom will be a more flexible and dangerous Spook than Old Gregory, but Tom will walk a narrower line and be in more danger of losing himself to the Dark.
I made a mistake before reading this book. I’d read the other twelve and was eager for this one, to see how the last battle between Tom, Old Gregory, their uneasy allies and the Fiend and his minions would play out. While waiting, I went to Amazon and read the reviews. I was shocked that an author that had usually been given four or five stars for his books was receiving one-star reviews. The reviewers were disappointed; mostly, it seems, in the turn the Tom/Alice romance took.
Alice, the young witch, has had to fight herself for the entire series. She is a strong and powerful witch, and is drawn to the Dark. She had been fighting that pull, somewhat for herself, but mostly for Tom. And then she leaves him – with a Dear John letter.
Talk about a plot twist!
In order to kill the Fiend, Tom had been planning to sacrifice the person he loved most – Alice. She was willing, but understandably reluctant, if another way could be found. She decided to enact a dark ritual she’d found in a grimoire, a ritual that would kill the Fiend and save her from death. Instead, she called up a dark mage (Lukrasta), an older, powerful man, who fascinated her, and who didn’t intend to kill her. So she chose him over Tom.
And the readers hated it.
I was horrified, but I had to finish the series; so I bought the book. And I read it. And I wasn’t horrified or disappointed. I think Alice does love Tom. I also remember (1) Alice sees ahead; she takes the long view, while Tom only sees the next step before him; (2) Alice goes out of her way on several occasions to save Tom; she even tells him certain information; there’s a subtext there, showing that Alice has reasons for what she’s doing, reasons that have to do with the fallout from destroying the Fiend. But Tom doesn’t hear the subtext; and (3) Tom’s mother, Zenobia the Lamia Witch, gave him a prophecy about Alice – that she would love him, she would betray him, and that ultimately, she would die for him. Alice obviously loves him. She’s betrayed him by choosing Lukrasta over Tom. But at the end of Fury of the Seventh Son, Alice is alive and well, though playing a dangerous game with the mage.
There is more to come. In the end, I think Alice will choose Tom, and she will pay the price and fulfill the prophecy. I’m looking forward to the new trilogy.