I feel like everyone read this book about two years ago and raved about it. I actually bought it back then, but was afraid I would be the one person that didn’t like it. Some of the reviews made me worry that maybe it wasn’t my cup of tea, and then I started seeing reviews that were less excited about it, which made me feel like I was justified in holding off on reading it. As it turns out I shouldn’t have been worried at all, and I’m so glad I found some of the book challenges I did this year that inspired me to finally read this since it meets requirements for three or four of them.
The main premise of the plot revolves around a challenge between two magicians and their opposing theories on the practice of magic. Rather than face each other, the two have been pitting apprentices and students against each other for an indeterminate time. It seems that quite some time has elapsed since the last challenge, but when one of them realizes he has a daughter, he decides to use her in the challenge, even when his opponent, Alexander, gives him a chance to bow out considering that the challenge only ends with death. Alexander quickly finds an orphan to teach, and thus Marco and Celia are set up as contestants in what will become a life long challenge (while neither of the older men is exactly admirable, I liked Alexander and his methods much more).