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The Last Days of Magic Reader’s Guide

By Mark Tompkins

The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins



What became of magic in the world? Who needed to do away with it, and for what reasons? Drawing on myth, legend, fairy tales, and biblical mysteries, Mark Tompkins has brilliantly imagined answers to these questions, sweeping us back to a world where humans and magical beings coexist as they had for centuries. Spanning the forests and villages of fourteenth-century Ireland, the lavish courts of France and England, and the Vatican’s inner chambers and present-day mysteries, The Last Days of Magic spins an exhilarating story out of adventure and enchantment.
Ireland is the last magical outpost on Earth, its Middle Kingdom—home to faeries and otherworldly beings—still strong in the face of the Vatican’s ever-expanding armies, exorcists, and mercenaries. An uneasy peace between the human Celts and the Sidhe, Ireland’s faeries, is to be kept by the reincarnated Morrígna twins, goddesses in human form. When one twin is assassinated in an act of defiance by a sect of tree faeries, her sister, Aisling, is left weakened and alone, struggling with human desires and a goddess’s destiny. After an ancient treaty between the Celts and faeries is broken, leaving them vulnerable to the machinations of the power-hungry Roman Church, the very existence of magic in the world is threatened. 
The Vatican, meanwhile, is plotting the eradication of all magic from Europe and takes the opportunity to strike. Jordan is a Vatican commander tapped for the invasion, but he’s plagued with doubts of his own. With budding magical abilities and a growing attachment to the enchantress Najia, he’s torn between desire and duty. As the Celts, Sidhe, and Vatican forces prepare for the battle ahead, Jordan must decide who he stands with—a decision that will have repercussions centuries later, when a graduate student named Sara Hill stumbles unknowingly into the thick of the mystery.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. How were we told, as children, that fairy tales came about, and have you ever questioned those ideas? What strikes you about how the question is taken up in The Last Days of Magic

2. Almost every culture has old stories of faeries, giants, and other nonhuman beings. How do you think the mythology of these beings arose?

3. Do you think it’s possible that magic and magical beings were deliberately expunged from the historical record? Or is The Last Days of Magic purely an imaginative fiction? What do you think the author intended in dramatizing this question for us? 

4. Aisling and Anya represent two aspects of the goddess considered important to rule Ireland and unite the divided factions. What are their different aspects, and what resonance might these qualities have for us today?

5. How and why is Jordan so conflicted, and what drives the evolution of his relationship with Najia? What role does their relationship play in his personal transformation?

6. A number of intimate relationships in the novel are formed during periods of crisis. Do you think that relationships forged in this way are more or less enduring than those developed in calmer times?

7. Brigid forsook her desire for a relationship with Liam in order to fulfill her calling as High Priestess. What ramifications does her choice have?

8. Did Liam’s decision to continue to support Aisling after Anya’s death seem like a wise choice? How did Liam and Aisling differently perceive this support?

9. How do feel about who and what Aisling becomes at the end of the novel?

10. What do you think happens to Sara, and why?

11. What is the author conveying with the concept of Ardor? If Ardor is present today, where do you think it exists?

About this Author

Mark Tompkins is the founder of the Aspen Writers’ Network and serves on the board of Aspen Words, a program of the Aspen Institute. Born in Texas of Irish ancestry, Tompkins lives in Boston, Houston, and Aspen. The Last Days of Magic is his first novel.
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