Here we are at the penultimate book in the Arcane Hearts series with the release of The Claws of Winter by Nazri Noor. It’s hard to imagine the author is going to be able to not only resolve some of the major mysteries of the series but also to explain the rationale behind some aspects of the family dynamics that undergo an enormous transformation at the end.
Personality transformations, AI intelligent beings that require whole storylines to conclude all the narrative levels it’s involved in, a romantic relationship to move to HEA, and still a deadly conflict with other realms that are in play. Seems a lot to ask of one finale novel.
Because The Claws of Winter ending finishes with all that still left hanging for the final story to deal with.
There’s a ton of elements here for the characters and plot threads to explore here. It picks up where the last book ends, with The Oberon’s Heart being returned to the King of Summer in The Verdant and releasing him from the poisonous crystal vines. But the land and the Fae need to recover, and Queen Titania is missing. More mysteries.
Jackson Pryde has started to become a character I’m not really connecting with anymore. I enjoyed watching him at the start but he’s not really growing up . At least as far as maturity or demonstrating the character growth his fiancé, Xander Wright, the former Incandescent, has shown steadily throughout the series.
It’s odd. I’m not sure if it’s intentional by the author or if Jackson is a personal “blind spot “ creatively for him. Many of the other characters or people around him have aged, acquired important positions and significant others.
Jackson, while working towards his goals of establishing the Hall of Making, has remained essentially, well the same Jackson. Yes, he rebuilt the Artificers Hall. He’s in a relationship. He’s done all these things and gone on all these adventures. However, his inner self, his emotional persona has essentially been unchanged from the beginning. He’s still showing doubts about his abilities, demonstrating jealousy as well as insecurities about Xander when it comes to the College and the Incandescent Magic. Even his exaggerated ego can feel childish when framed around the events that are happening. What was once understandable is now getting tired.
Where Jackson is still struggling and believable is when he is within the realm of his home life , present and past. Whether he’s supporting Lore in Lore’s achievements as a AI being or remembering life with his deceased parents, that’s when Noor takes Jackson and grounds him firmly in the basis for the arc themes and his character. He’s more realistic and we are more invested in him and the story.
Weak components here are to do with the Magical Incandescent young man introduced into the narrative, his interactions with the characters (although this may be a part of the overall storyline), and the ease of resolution of one issue of a major theme. It feels one dimensional.
So many narrative balls up in the air, and so many characters await to catch them.
I’m not sure it all worked here . But it’s very complicated and the world building is so well done that it’s hard not to enjoy the journey even if you’re having quibbles along the way.
Book 7 is complete. Onto the finale, The Grip of Death, Book 8 of Arcane Hearts.
I’m definitely recommending the series and this story. It’s a wild ride.
rcane Hearts series, 8 books:
✓ A Touch of Fever #1
✓ A Stroke of Brilliance #2
✓ An Iron Fist #3
✓ A Velvet Glove #4
✓ Hand of Glory #5
✓ A Clap of Thunder #6
✓ The Claws of Winter #7
◦ The Grip of Death #8 – finale /Nov 24, 2023
The Claws of Winter (Arcane Hearts Book 7)
Revenge is a dish best served cold.
The guild of artificers is so close to completion, Jackson Pryde can almost taste it. Befriending the Black Market’s guilds has paid off.
Everyone agrees that Jackson should become master of the artificers, even Mother Dough, the powerful guild of bakers.
But it’s not all sugar and spice. A strange sorcerer has reawakened Xander’s interest in Incandescence. The second AI has unearthed a bizarre blueprint. And not everything is as it seems in the Verdance.
Tensions mount as the fae courts question the value of human friendship – and human life. Jackson and Xander may have saved the King of Summer, but now they must face the wrath of the Queen of Winter.