• A Marvellous Light

  • The Last Binding, Book 1
  • By: Freya Marske
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 14 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (343 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Narrator David Thorpe’s delicious depictions of steamy encounters between Robin and Edwin are intricately woven throughout this magical realm." (Booklist, starred review)

Red White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: debut author Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light unfolds in 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.

A Macmillan Audio production from Tordotcom

©2021 Freya Marske (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

2021, NPR Best Book of the Year

“Romantic in the best way, funny, sharp, sexy, fantastical. Prepare to fall in love with the gorgeous Edwardian setting, the sizzling character dynamics, and the murderous enchanted hedge maze.” (Emily Tesh, author of Silver in the Wood

"A charming, lovingly crafted adventure full of peril, romance and wit, illuminated by sparkling turns of phrase and a pervasive sense of humour." (A. K. Larkwood, author of The Unspoken Name

“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

What listeners say about A Marvellous Light

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    4 out of 5 stars

From Good to OK

The story begins strong, engaging. The characters are distinct, clear people who feel real and full. I invested immediately. For most of the story, I enjoyed myself and sincerely cared about the characters. However, toward the 75% mark, I felt myself straining to care, and I was never able to regain my deep interest.

Part of the issue is that rather early on, the two leads start spending LITERALLY every single scene together until the 75% mark. That is EXHAUSTING. Each character desperately needed and deserved a moment away, a single breath alone, but they never got it. This strained the story. Nothing felt like it developed naturally due to this unnatural constraint of the characters seeming as if they literally do not exist outside each other. The fun magical moments carried me through my exhaustion.

The 75% point is notable because with many romance novels, this marks the predictable "something goes wrong that separates them" moment, and it happens on cue here. And, unfortunately, it feels forced; this is disappointing in a novel that up until that point had not felt overly formulaic. The "separation drama" did not feel earned, and the resolution to the drama also did not feel earned. It was just... formula. Boo, because the book is so strong until this hackneyed nonsense pulls it down.

I'd still say give it a read/listen. You may love it anyway. I know I loved it simply because the characters are so well-formed. I invested in them as people, and that's true the entire novel despite my gripes.

For readers seeking steamy romance, this is medium-to-low steam. Full steam scenes, but nothing particularly special about the scenes. In truth, I think in future re-reads, I'll skip them. Just meh, you know? It does the job but isn't what's exciting about the book.

The audiobook narrator is 10/10 amazing and makes the book stronger.

10 people found this helpful

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  • t
  • 11-03-21

This could be filed under “How not to write a book

A writer should show, not tell. But this book is a continual litany of TELL TELL TELL. Show a tiny bit. TELL TELL TELL.

The characters are 2 dimensional. The plot is boring.

The only good thing about the book is the narrator and, even as decent as he is, he can’t save this novel.

DO NOT waste a credit on this.

I don’t get how books like this get published by large publishers and other books - BETTER BOOKS - don’t.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Creative and enjoyable

This book was a great adventure into a believable magical layer of historical England. I'm a sucker for the "magical bureaucracy" genre of books, and this was an outstanding specimen. I would have loved this book for the plot and the world-building, but I just can't understate how happy I am to see LGBTQ+ representation in a book that's being marketed for something OTHER than the gay relationship. There are so many good LGBTQ books that are defined only by the fact that they have gay characters, and A Marvellous Light managed, perhaps by magic, to slip past that pigeonhole and into the category of "serious modern literature." It deserves its place there! The author has clearly put bushels of thought into the workings of the magical world, and has come up with a unique system that goes far beyond your typical "wand and staff" wizardry. Though I don't think this book passes the Bechdel test, the number of blue-stockinged women in the book pleased me, and there are several subplots with clear feminist leanings.

3 people found this helpful

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Marvelous Story

I hear about this book in an interview with author T. J. Klune and he was absolutely correct that this is a great book. I was pulled in from the first scene and enjoyed the whole story. The world building is through and believable. The details of Edwardian English life were obviously well researched and made the story even more enjoyable. The narration by David Thorpe pulled me into the story and kept me entertained through all 14 plus hours. This is book one of a trilogy and while the book has a totally satisfactory ending, there is going to be much more in the other two books. Now I just get to wait for the next book.

3 people found this helpful

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Wonderful!

A fantastic journey! Loved the tone, the narrator was amazing, the writing beautiful. Disregard the negative reviews and get ready to find an escape you won’t want to miss!

3 people found this helpful

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Slow Start is WORTH IT!

I felt lost in the sauce the first few chapters but then I was hooked! Looking forward to the next installment!

2 people found this helpful

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Really wanted to love it

I really wanted to love this book after collecting 3 rare versions and being a fan of MM romance and period pieces. I thought for sure I’d adore it.

I hate to admit that it wasn’t for me. I found the writing style confusing, jumping around to undescribed characters and places. I never really felt like I knew where I was or what was happening or what people’s personalities were.

The book starts off with an attack on a man without magic who has knowledge of the location of something valuable to magicians, a contract. Contracts are basically physical binding spells of promise and some magicians are trying to get their hands on this one. When that man doesn’t show up for work, his job being to basically help the British government when magical things go awry, they put in a new sort of ‘Muggle’, Robin.

Robin is then attacked because the contract is believed to be at the office of the man he replaced. He’s spelled to find it for them but the magic awakens in him an ability of foresight/seeing the future.

Helping Robin is Edwin, a magician of meager magical blood. They go about trying to find the contract and I have to say I felt no chemistry between them at all, then they suddenly have a sex scene which is written very well, but sans the build up of tension, felt weird and not very believable. There are more spicy scenes and no fade to blacks - thank you Freya! - but all in all this story was just too disjointed and dragged along.

2 people found this helpful

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There's no way English people are this awkward.

The narrator really tried with different voices and stuff and it was very cute, but he sounded like he'd just had a double espresso the whole time, even during the sex scenes, which just added to his incredibly awkward the dialog already made them. A very interesting take on magic and a good story, really. Just overall, the word I'd use would be awkward.

2 people found this helpful

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Great story!

Excellent storytelling! Great magic lore. Fun plot. Intimate scenes are both elegantly and spicily written! Fantastic narration!

1 person found this helpful

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Loved it!

I loved it! It was a great story, but it dragged out. Would have liked a more satisfying ending but it was exciting!

1 person found this helpful