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Book Review: The Last Apprentice

  • November 1, 2012 6:57 PM EDT

    Hi guys, some of you may remember me bringing up possibly doing a book review, well here it is. I was thinking of doing Percy Jackson or the Hunger Games, but I decided to maybe bring some notice to a series I've had a great time reading, The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney.

    Yeah, that candle will help a lot against all-powerful darkness


    The story revolves around Thomas 'Tom' Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son. A simple 13 year old farm boy about to start his apprenticeship (as is custom). His Father, John Ward, arranged for him to be taught under a mysterious man, the Spook. The Spook's name is John Gregory, his occupation is to protect the County (fictional Lancashire, England) from beings of "the dark," though they are often seen as heretics and very rarely treated with respect, let alone hospitality. The dark refers to evil beings, like witches, boggarts (4-foot tall, vampire badgers, some are even worse), and... well I don't want spoil anything else. There is also potential witch (and love interest), Alice Deane, daughter of... well, again, you'll find out. On the surface it's your typical light vs. dark/good vs. evil story, but it has a lot of grey in between these two sides.

    Character Development

    I'll talk about Tom first. Tom is, as I said before, the seventh son of a seventh son, which grants him several gifts; he can hear and see ghosts, immunity to Siren songs, and other abilities to help fight the dark. His Mam has said that he is her "gift to the County." Throughout the series he has always been seen as patient and kind young man, but as his battle against dark grows more dangerous, he has been forced to rely on "dark influences" (help from certain witches, mirror texting essentially =P, etc), not helped by Alice who has a very fight fire-with-fire outlook when it comes to dark powers.

    Next, The Spook. John Gregory has protected the County for most of his life and has had 29 apprentices, most of whom have died. He is constantly at war with Alice, believing she may tempt Tom towards the dark, though he has accepted her into his home. He has a harsher outlook on uses of the dark, as he's afraid Tom will be corrupted into the dark. Though he is a strict teacher and master, he treats Tom well enough and does care for him.

    Alice Deane, the daughter of _____. As I stated before, she is the potential love interest and the most divided character in the series. She constantly walks a thin line between the light and dark, Tom's Mam has stated that she can become the most dangerous witch of all time, but that she can be equally as dangerous towards the dark. She met Tom when he first became a Spook's apprentice, and, through certain rough patches in the beginning, they became best friends. Like the Spook, she also cares about Tom, often putting him before his teachings and herself. She was brought up as a witch by her aunt, Bony Lizzie (looking back, that's kind of a dirty name), so she knows many witch taught gifts, though she tries to avoid using them. She is also a highly trained alchemist.

    Mam is Tom's mother. She deeply loves Tom, and believes Tom and the Spook need Alice's help if they are to fight the dark. She is a mysterious woman with an even more mysterious past that you'll have to read to find out.

    Religous/Mythological Influence

    Some of you may know, I'm quite fond of mythology and religion. This book has English, Greek, and Irish mythology, and a tiny bit of Catholocism. Some English examples are the boggarts and witches. Several Greek examples are the Pillars of Hercules and lamia witches (born from the first Lamia who was promptly ripped to shreds by her 3 children. Watch out, Kyne, kids are crazy :P). Even the Morrigan from Irish mythology makes an appearance. The Catholic influence besides light vs. dark, is shared by the priests you'll come across (you'll only like one of them). Most notably though is when the Spook shares his ideas of a God, he says he "does not believe in a white-bearded man sitting on a golden throne in the sky, but that when we are at most vulnerable, there is something that pushes us, that strengthens us when we are weak."


    The Last Apprentice is a series I've deeply loved reading, though the love story aspect may feel like it's being stretched a bit, I still see the relationship between the two, they've been through hell and back with each other, and if they don't end up together I hope you guys will give this a read, it's a classic light vs. dark story, if you throw in Irish/Greek/English mythology with badass and sometimes scary scenes. 

    This is my first in hopefully a series of many others, so criticism is helpful

    See yah guys later



    • 140 posts
    November 9, 2012 9:21 PM EST

    This is a great review, Matthew, and I totally appreciate all the work you put into writing it.  How many books have been written so far in the series, and do you have an idea of when it will end?  I think you touched on the important points of a good book review (brief plot synopsis, character summaries, potential themes).  You certainly provided plenty of "hooks" to get me interested in reading it (I also enjoy mythology), and I am placing the first novel on my library list...along with The Hunger Games.

    I do not think I can ask you any other questions, as it might give too much away and then what will be the point of reading it??     

    • 1913 posts
    November 9, 2012 9:35 PM EST
    Awesome, I'm gonna go check my local library to see if they have this when I can. Are you planning on reviewing any other books?
  • November 9, 2012 10:02 PM EST

    I think 9 so far. Careful there are English and American versions with completely different names, make sure you don't buy the same one twice like I almost did. It's not as popular but I think I enjoyed this more than the Hunger Games I can't imagine it going on much longer, I'm worried he might try to stretch it a little The first is less action packed but it has clever writing that I think you'll enjoy. I may reread the earlier books but I think I lost some during the move This series does have plenty of twists, and the mythology doesn't kick in until later, especially books 4-7. I really appreciate the feedback, Kyne, it took a little longer than I expected( close to 2 hours), but I enjoyed it 

  • November 9, 2012 10:04 PM EST

    I think so, Hunter, except I want to review lesser-known books, but I may review things like Percy Jackson or the Hunger Games. There is a particular series I have my eye on though I need to learn more about it before I buy all the books

    • 1913 posts
    November 9, 2012 10:07 PM EST
    Are you planning on reading the Percy Jackson sequel series?
  • November 9, 2012 10:13 PM EST

    Already read all the ones that are out, waiting for next one

    • 180 posts
    November 9, 2012 10:16 PM EST

    Finished the newest one today. Now I have to go re-read the whole series .

  • November 9, 2012 10:26 PM EST

    I probably won't reread it until about a week before the next one comes out. What did you think of the review, Twisted? I know you like mythology

    • 180 posts
    November 9, 2012 10:41 PM EST

    Looks like something I'd be interested in. I might have to get a copy.

  • July 26, 2013 6:44 PM EDT
    Nearly forgot I wrote this review, still a fantastic series. And I think the final one is coming to the US in September (not sure if it's the final one). Also to anyone actually reading this series, the books later in the series are superb. Picked up Book #10, and I absolutely loved it. Plenty of twists and some interesting moral implications.
    • 158 posts
    January 8, 2014 5:55 PM EST

    Thanks for the recommendation, Matt - I'm a sucker for anything Irish mythology, since my dad's family is Irish-American.  These sound great!

  • January 8, 2014 6:09 PM EST
    I'm also mostly Irish :) Although it seems to have the littlest impact on the overall story, the Irish mythology makes a huge impact in Rage of the Fallen with Morrigan (though she just appears as a giant crow, if I remember right) and a pretty famous Irish hero.
    • 1 posts
    January 8, 2014 8:35 PM EST
    Wow, I feel dumb for saying this but this is one of my favorite book series ever. I thought it was quite original.
  • January 8, 2014 8:42 PM EST
    Why do you feel dumb for saying it?
    • 158 posts
    January 8, 2014 8:51 PM EST

    Yeah, nothing wrong with enthusiasm!

    • 52 posts
    January 8, 2014 10:57 PM EST
    I have read these books. Right now I'm waiting for book 13. They are hands down one of the best books I have ever read.
  • January 8, 2014 11:07 PM EST
    It's almost out!^^
    • 140 posts
    May 10, 2014 6:45 PM EDT

    All right, Matt, so I am in the midst of Book Six (I am not hooked, of course I am not).  :P 

    I hope that you continue your book reviews.  I appreciate being introduced to a series that I might not have heard of until one of my own children would have brought the book home.  I have been very pleased with the characters so far, and how the author has shown us how they fight both the demons within themselves and outside of themselves.  I so particularly enjoy Alice in particular, and I hope that this series will not disappoint after a 13 book investment.  A little worried about that number....

  • May 11, 2014 1:53 PM EDT
    Yeah, there's a lot of books. Though I personally skipped "I am Grimalkin" and "Slither." The last book is fantastic and, I'm gonna slightly spoil it, gives the love story part a really, really good twist (if a bit sudden). That's all I'm gonna say on it...

    Really glad you're enjoying the series as much as I did.