Every decade six talented medeians are selected as candidates to join the Alexandrian Society. Only five will be successful, granted access to the magical knowledge that was once held in the Great Library of Alexandria.
The little known truth of the matter is that the Library of Alexandria burned down to save itself.
In the world of The Atlas Six, magic is power, and that magic is what you are born with. There is very little to challenge this elitist attitude in the story. Briefly an organisation called the Forum pops up and suggests that maybe knowledge should be shared but this doesn’t go anywhere. None of the characters seem to have much self awareness of how wrong this all is.
Nico wants to help Gideon who isn’t classified as human and cannot get work because of that but I’m not sure if he wanted to work to make things better for everyone. As long as those in his immediate vicinity are looked after, that’s what matters.
No one here is good. Knowledge is carnage. You can’t have it without sacrifice.
I got the feeling early on that I wasn’t reading about the good guys. Which is fine, I don’t mind reading about villains but I do need some kind of motivation to cheer them on. There isn’t a lot of character development beyond what their magical abilities are. So it’s hard to tell if they are mulling over their life choices or just eager to push everyone out their way in their quest for power.
I mean Libby is about to become a venture capitalist when she’s approached by the Society. If you had the power to manipulate matter the way she does, you could do anything. Libby and Nico are rivals at college and she’s portrayed as lacking confidence, something which the others are mean about constantly.
Reina has the ability to do actual good in the world, but she doesn’t want her power drained by corporations. Which seems OK…but she’s fine being a battery for her fellow society medeians? She seems like all she cares about is access to the books and their knowledge and people don’t matter.
Parisa is the horrible stereotype of a beautiful woman who doesn’t need to be nice to anyone because she’s so beautiful everyone just wants to have sex with her. There is one scene where something is revealed which maybe suggests there’s more to her than this, but again the character development isn’t there to support that and make her likeable.
Callum is interesting in the fact he is an empath who acts like a sociopath. Did his magic make him that way?
Power like the Society’s does not elevate this world; it only changes hands, continuing to isolate its advantages.
Tristan is the son of some crime boss and he’s trying to escape his family, by marrying into money. He thinks his magic is useless, but he can see through illusions. One thing that puzzled me when they were suggesting that what Tristan can do is unique, if Parisa can read everyone’s minds, I don’t see how she would not notice that illusions aren’t real people either.
I had to double check that this was the edition that was edited by Tor, because this feels like it needed more work to get to a finished product. Maybe they didn’t want it to move too far from the self published version which has apparently been a hit on Tiktok. I rolled my eyes every time something was described as “so British”, like we’re all wearing tweed and sleeping in four poster beds.
It has potential and I’d consider reading the next book, especially if it addresses the inequality. I was getting into it by the end, but it took a long time talking about not a lot before it got there.
I don’t think it’s as original as I’ve seen some readers claim. There’s a typical dark academia set up and the stuff about the physics of magic reminded me a little of Vita Nostra.
If you fancy reading it, the ebook is available now, and the print version will be out in March. I bought the ebook last year but I do believe it’s the Tor version since it has their copyright page in, as well as the illustrations.
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