Every 10 years, six talented magicians are chosen to compete for five spots in The Alexandrian Society, a secretive organization that holds all of the knowledge of the Library of Alexandria. As the six magicians compete for their place, dark truths about the society are revealed and the initiates must decide how far they’re willing to go for knowledge and power.
The Atlas Six is an atmospheric urban fantasy set in a world similar to our own but brimming with magic in unique ways. The characters are intriguing and the plot has some interesting twists, but uneven pacing makes the story a little hard to get through. Ultimately, though, I thought the characters and inventiveness of the narrative made for a compelling read!
I really loved the setting and world-building of the novel. In this world, there are non magical people and magicians who are able to study their particular type of magic at magical universities. I’m a sucker for a good school of magic, though there are obvious comparisons in this novel to Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and HP (of course). I thought the Alexandrian Society is what made the story more unique. The Alexandrian Society is located in a seemingly sentient house filled with knowledge just waiting to be called upon. I wish that the house had been explored more, but thought it provided an interesting backdrop to the story.
The character development was very good. The novel rotates perspective between each of the six characters, and we get the opportunity to be in their heads and understand their history and motivations. I thought every character had an intriguing backstory and I loved seeing how they interacted with each other and explored their powers. That said, the problems that these characters faced were pretty trivial, making them seem quite privileged. Of course, when you’re chosen for the society you’re chosen because you’re the best in your field so that naturally comes with some privilege.
I enjoyed the magic system in this story. I thought it was unique and well realized. Each character specializes in a different from of magic, with the exception of Libby and Nico who are both physicists, specializing in elemental magic. Reina is a naturalist, Parisa is a telepath, Callum is an empath, and Tristan has a mysterious skill that’s not fully detailed, though he can see through illusions.
The main drawback of this story is the uneven pacing. The novel starts really slowly and remains slow for much of the story. There are action sequences, but they’re set far apart with a fair amount of rambling ruminations on magic and reality and deep dives into the characters’ thoughts and feelings. It took me a while to read the first probably 4/5s of this story, but the last 1/5 of the story was explosive and left on a real cliffhanger!
Overall, I think The Atlas Six is going to be an interesting series, despite the flaws in pacing. I’m hopeful that Blake will tighten up the pacing the future, but the characters and world-building make me want to continue on with the series!
If you’ve read The Atlas Six tell me what you thought!
CW: death, hallucinations, manipulation