The Eighth Court by Mike Shevdon

June 7, 2013

Please note The Eighth Court is the fourth book in The Courts of the Feyre series. It’s entirely possible that this review may contain some spoilers if you’ve not read books one to three. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

The Eighth Court has been established, but petty rivalries and old disputes threaten its stability. The mongrels that make up the court are not helping, and Blackbird enlists the help of the warders to keep the peace.

Has Blackbird bitten off more than she can chew, and can the uneasy peace between the courts continue under such tension and rivalry?

I have to admit that I’ve been a little worried about reading this particular book. The closer and closer it got to the top of my review pile the more and more nervous I became. Why all the unnecessary anxiety? Well Sixty One Nails is one of the first books that actually made me want to sit down and try to string together something resembling a coherent review. Yes, I know I didn’t review it on The Eloquent Page but it was one of the first books that made me want to share my passion for reading with the world. I certainly hold it, at least in part, for this website coming into being. Then its sequel, The Road to Bedlam, came along (that I did review) and it managed to catch me out with one particular scene that still gets me every damn time. Strangeness & Charm followed and managed to successfully cement Mike Shevdon’s place on my very short list of ‘favourite authors’. So when I started reading The Eighth Court I think it’s fair to say that I had something best described as high hopes.

If you’re still reading any series by the time it has reached book four, there has to be multiple reasons why. The thing that really makes this book for me are the characters. They are so well observed and it felt like I was catching up with the old friends. Niall Petersen has come along from the directionless slacker that we first met. He has found his place amongst the Warders and has adjusted to life with Blackbird. He has found some measure of stability, as well as a purpose and a family.

In comparison, Blackbird still manages to retain an air of mystery. She continues to play things very close to her chest. I feel, in some respects, that I never really discovered everything about her character. I rather like that though, she remains just a little enigmatic. You get the feeling that she still has her secrets and that’s never going to change. Blackbird’s the sort of person that you could know for years but she’ll still manage to surprise you on a daily basis.

If I have to pick a favourite character then I think it would have to be Niall’s daughter Alex. Her role in events has increased with each book and she has grown up over the course of the series. From a young girl, to a bolshie teen and then a young woman, Alex has transformed before the reader’s eyes. Her initial uncertainty when facing the fantastical world she is exposed to, through to her acceptance of her new life, is one of the best parts of the narrative. Her journey has been subtly done but fascinating nonetheless to watch.

There is a very definite sense of events pulling to a close. The politics and various grand plans that have delighted in previous books remain, but are finally reaching their climax. I do love the way that Shevdon manages to effortlessly reincorporate themes from book one back into the plot without even seeming to break a sweat. The Lords and Ladies of Feyre society have always been natural born meddlers, it’s like they can’t help themselves. They are forever trying to shape events and amend the natural order of things. Hidden resentments that have been around for years finally come to light and it’s suddenly a fight for all or nothing.

No spoilers, of course, but I am pleased to say the final chapters of The Eighth Court delivered exactly the sort of resolution to the series that I was hoping for. The perfect mix of magic and folklore, with a fantastic plot and loads of great characters has made this a story that I’ll remember for a long time.

So, sadly, the series is done and I’m left with but one question. Can someone tell me who at the BBC I need to harass to ensure that a television adaptation gets made immediately? I read only this morning that Aunty Beeb is looking for adult fantasy shows  to produce. *Waves animatedly* Woo Hoo!!! Over Here!!! It’s a wonderful thought. Who knows? Maybe if I wish hard enough? If it happens, this would allow me the luxury of being able to daydream who my dream cast would be.

As an aside, while I remember, if you do read The Eighth Court and then, like me, find yourself suffering urban fantasy withdrawal, can I suggest the following. You could do a lot worse than picking up the first couple of Split Worlds novels by Emma Newman. I’ve found them to be a more than suitable replacement.

The Eighth Court is published by Angry Robot and is available now. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed The Court of The Feyre novels. I still remember picking up Sixty One Nails on a whim in an airport bookshop. It’s been a hell of a ride and I’m genuinely going to miss them. If you’ve not had the pleasure I strongly suggest that you check them all out. They build into a truly fantastic urban fantasy series that is well worth any genre fans time.

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