Legendary expands on the world and magic of Caraval, delivering a deeply satisfying and action-packed sequel full of mystery.
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The magical game of Caraval is about bravery and sacrifice, and friends let me tell you that the magic isn’t yet over as there are some debts to be paid. This world is so magical and ethereal that it is easy to get swept up into the narrative, and while I slightly prefer Caraval, this installment of the trilogy lives up to its predecessor and shatters all notions of Middle Book Syndrome!
“Legend has chosen you to play a game that may change your destiny.
In honor of Empress Elantine’s 75th birthday,
Caraval will visit the streets of Valenda for six magical nights.”
The magical performance typically only happens once per year, but within a week the troupe is heading to the Meridian capitol Valenda for a special game. But is this one just a game? Or is it something more?
I absolutely love how this book expands the worldbuilding! With the moving to another location, we get not only a sense of the history of this world but also more details about the magic Legend wields during Caraval and the origins of that magic. I am really excited to see where this goes in Finale, because everything is set up so well for an amazing ending.
Legendary is told in the third person perspective of Donatella (Tella), which I really appreciated because I felt like I didn’t get a sense of who she was in Caraval. But she is strong, brave, and fiercely loyal to her sister above all else. While she has limitless amounts of love for Scarlett, she has never allowed herself to fall in love because of a prophecy that she was doomed to unrequited love.
“Tella wanted nothing to do with love; she’d learned long ago it was not in her destiny. She gave herself the freedom to kiss as many boys as she liked, but never more than once.”
But the thing about this series is that the notion of fate and free will is explored, and just because something is prophesied doesn’t mean that it will come to pass. In this way, Scarlett and her journey is a foil to Tella’s. This book and Tella’s journey is learning to take control and not letting prophecy rule her actions; allowing her to love and be vulnerable.
“But the best villains are the ones you secretly like.”
Garber really knows how to write villains, my friends. I love morally grey characters so much: they are vastly more interesting than someone who is just pure evil. There is a line where humanizing the villain makes me feel all wormy inside, but Garber manages to craft these characters that are flawed and not good, but you can’t help but root for despite it all. Watching their journeys is almost as interesting to me, because I really love a villain redemption arc.
“She’d underestimated Love in the past. She’d imagined the romantic sort to be a stronger type of lust – but this moment had nothing to do with lust and everything to do with caring more about saving […] than saving herself. It made her fearless in a way she’d never been.”
I loved the romance (which is saying something because I am typically indifferent). I think a main reason is because it is as much about Tella accepting that she is worthy of love as it is about her slowly falling for someone that she thinks she hates. Again the time period is a week here, so I am sure that people will find this to be insta-love but there is something about the pacing and their journey together that makes it not feel that way to me.
“I know you were willing to sacrifice yourself for her, but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice you.”
While Scarlett and Julian are very much in the background of this installment dealing with the after effects of all the lies in Caraval, at its heart, even with the romances, this series is about two sisters and their unbreakable bond and their personal journeys. And I like that this book centers on sisterly love.
Legendary is fast-paced and consuming. I devoured it in one sitting (this marks Day 2 of my immersion into the World of Caraval) and it is plotted incredibly well. The stakes are high for Tella and the anxiety I felt reading the first book carried over: I didn’t know who to trust, but I knew who I wanted to trust. Just like Caraval, this book reads like an act in a play and sets up Finale well while still providing the reader some resolution. By the end the identity of Legend will be known and I just have to say: of course. I can’t believe that I missed it because it makes so much sense!
Overall, I loved Legendary and am excited to dive into Finale as soon as I finish this review. It is just as magical and beautiful as the first installment, and it adds so much to the world of Caraval. I really connect with Garber’s writing and her characters, especially her villains! I cannot wait to see how it all ends.
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.