Goodreads: The Last Council
Series: Amulet #4
In Cielis, Emily joins the Academy to compete for a spot on the Guardian Council. But not all in the city is well and the resistance fears the hidden presence of the Elf King.
Kazu Kibuishi maintains the strong pacing picked up in book three of the Amulet series in the fourth installment, managing to instill a sense of urgency and excitement in the plot even while it seems the characters have diverged from their true mission. Emily and her crew of resistance members have travelled to the hidden city of Cielis to ask for help from the Guardian Council against the Elf King, but instead the Stonekeeper finds herself thrown into a dangerous training competition to earn a place on that same council. The Hunger Games seems to be the latest influence on the Amulet series, but, as usual, Kibuishi somehow manages to make the story his own.
Though I have spoken before of the obvious influences on the Amulet series, it is worth noting that the books do feature one very uncommon occurrence–the presence of a parental figure. Emily and Navin’s mother does necessarily limit some of their possible adventures–in book three for instance, Emily consistently leaves her brother behind to console their mother while she sets forth to accomplish the task at hand. However, a lack of total freedom in Alledia is arguably a small loss when considered against the gain of a mother as an active (and supportive) character. After all, what sort of mother would she seem to readers if she exhibited no concern over her children piloting planes, entering sketchy pubs, consorting with outlaws, and fighting evil? And, in the end, she provides an important perspective on events, offering her wisdom as someone who has seen more of the world and has had to come to terms with living with imperfection. Her children may not agree, but hearing a different voice is refreshing.
In The Last Council, Emily’s mother’s desire to protect her children ironically works against her, however, allowing her to become an even more integral part of the plot. School in Cielis sounds like a wonderful plan to her–Emily will be where she “belogngs,” studying with other children. Her wish to see at least one child settled and not engaging in battle leads her to overlook the obvious problems in the city, ranging from the suspicious welcome to the absence of citizens on the streets. The turn of the events allows Emily’s mother to be wrong without reducing her to an incompetent, bungling fool just because she is an adult.
Once Emily and Navin’s mother unintentionally sets the story in motion, the excitement only builds. Several new, intriguing characters appear, including two other girls (the cast seems overwhelmingly male to me, even though the protagonist is female). More intriguing, however, is the absence of characters. Kibuishi hangs the silence of the Guardian Council over the story as a veiled threat, making danger seem to lurk everywhere, even when little seems to be happening. The stakes now are higher than ever.
The Last Council proves a solid addition to the series, continuing to set the stage for upcoming books while still giving the impression that at least some forward motion has occurred. If the series continues to prolong the story with random hopping to various cities across Alledia, I may find myself disappointed in the future. For now, however, I am glad to be taking this journey with Emily and Navin.