The Faire is coming to Cockatrice and Lady Emily is woefully unprepared. Since the arrangements were made while she was away at school, two warring factions have been invited to attend at the same time. And Emily is putting them both up in her house!
In Love’s Labor Won (great title) by Christopher G. Nuttall, the sixth Schooled In Magic book, magicians and sorcerers from all over the Allied Lands will be gathering to eat, drink, buy, sell, and be merry. Only Emily can’t really enjoy it, because she is the hostess—and she has to keep the local versions of the Capulets and Montagues from starting a war!
One of those “Capulets” is her school rival, Melissa. Only, unknown to Emily, Melissa’s family is trying to marry her off to a guy who makes the Grim and Ghastly Griswald of The Court Jester look like a sweetheart. Meanwhile, Emily’s old friend, Marcus, the Head Boy of Mountaintop Academy turns out to be the heir to the other rival house.
And they fall in love.
How can Emily keep the two families from slaughtering each other when the truth comes out? And where is she going to find the time to work on her project proposal for Fourth Year?
I love the title of this book, and the plot of involving a great faire and a forbidden love sounded so enchanting. I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, I just did not enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed some of the others. Several things made it less enjoyable than it could be. I will mention two.
Emily spent so much of her time complaining about how unsuited she was to be baroness. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame her for not enjoying the position! But there were so many things she had improved, girls who were not being abused, peasants with more freedom, a city that was flourishing without unfair trade practices. The effects of her rule were so beneficial that her complaints came over as a bit ungrateful. I really wished she would acknowledge what an amazing job she was doing, even if she didn’t enjoy doing it.
But the thing that bothered me the most was: Lady Barb. Lady Barb was there when Emily ask her, Emily’s advisor, if she should host the faire. Lady Barb knew what faires involved. She also knew A) that Emily did not know and was unfamiliar with the process, and—much more importantly—B) that Emily was going to be sent to Mountaintop for the following year, where she would not be able to communicate with the outside world.
And yet Emily asked her in Work Experience whether she should host the faire, Lady Barb did not say: It is a huge amount of work. Or you might not be there to do it. It would not be so bad, if it wasn’t Lady Barb, of all people, who then criticizes her for not knowing more. When Lady Barb was the person Emily had gone to for advice.
This seemed so utterly unfair to me, it interfered with my enjoyment.
Also, numerous people criticized Emily for inviting the two feuding families, saying anyone should have known not to do this. But it wasn’t Emily who did it, it was Byron, a native. So, if everyone knows not to do this, how come he didn’t know?
Argh! Poor Emily! So unfair!
There were good points, too. A new character joined the story, a young man named Caleb who looks as if he might turn out to be a good friend for Emily. It would be nice if she had someone who shared her interests to confide in.
The book also had some truly enjoyable moments! Nuttall does an excellent job with the investigation of the magic system, and Love’s Labor Won was no exception. In fact, this book was particularly satisfying in that regard, because we saw the culmination of something that had been in the works for a number of books now.
Much earlier, Emily had come up with a concept for making a magical power battery from a pocket universe. Her first attempts to do so, in Study in Slaughter had gotten her in terrible trouble. In Work Experience, Lady Barb had taught her some of what she needed to know to pull it off. So it was very satisfying to not only see her perfect her idea but to use it during the climax of the book to power a truly impressive spell.
All the more satisfying because no one knows how she did it.
The project she and Caleb are considering also sounds fascinating along the same lines. And, of course, it was fun to see all our old friends, such as Alassa and Freida and Jade come visiting.
On an unrelated note, Emily expresses her disdain for the tale of Romeo and Juliet. For most of my life, I held the same opinion Emily did. Recently, however, I came upon an article that has caused me to rethink the play and wonder if I have been wrong. If anyone else is interested, the article is here.
Don’t despair yet, dear hearts! Because while Emily’s mysterious guardian does not himself put in a personal appearance, we do meet not one, but two different people who knew him when he was young!
This was very exciting, as it helped establish how old he was…until I remembered that he often changes his appearance, which means he could have been faking being young back then. But…, assuming it was true, it is fun to think of him as kicking around with someone back in his less Lone Power days.