Review: ‘One True King’ (‘The School for Good and Evil’, #6) by Soman Chainani

In her years at school, Good and Evil played by the rules.
But in the Camelot years? Play by the rules and you die.

Rating:

Glow-level 5/5 paper planes

What’s This Book About?

Genre: YA/Middle-grade adventure-fantasy

Synopsis: Beyond Good and Evil. Beyond Ever Afters.

The fairy tale of Sophie and Agatha comes to a dramatic conclusion in this sixth and final book of Soman Chainani’s New York Times bestselling fantasy series.

Who will sit on Camelot’s throne and rule the Endless Woods? Who will be the One True King? Prepare yourself for the End of Ends . . .

What I Thought:

It’s rare to find a series conclusion that feels as perfect as ‘One True King’ did. This was a wonderful way to close out one of my all-time favourite series! It’s explosive, touching, hilarious, maddeningly stressful yet fulfilling at the same time.

I was amazed at how much information – plot, backstory, character development – was packed into these 500-ish pages. No words were wasted, nor did any scene feel unnecessary!

Tedros had his plan.
But everyone has a plan until they’re kicked in the face.
Then the plan isn’t worth very much, is it?

There were so many twists, cliffhanger chapter endings and edge-of-my-seat moments – OTK was exhilarating and exhausting in the best way. The multiple open plot threads wove together into an intricate web, a complex endgame that blew my mind. Small details in previous books suddenly become significant in new light and I hardly knew what to expect.

Past is Present and Present is Past. The story goes round and round again . . . Unless you learn from that past.

I’m so proud of how far our protagonists have come from their Book 1 selves. Spending the past five years with them has been a blessing! I’m especially proud and protective of Tedros, the once-King of Camelot and son of Arthur, vying to reclaim and truly earn his throne. We see his deepest vulnerabilities, his growth in wisdom, courage and confidence, yet he retains his classic Tedrosian air of mild confusion.

“Tell me [Tedros]. Why do you want to die and come back to life?”
…He thought about this awhile…“Because if I can die and come back to life, then no one can hurt me.”

I’m not joking when I say I would die for this kid.

Agatha and Sophie also show significant development, Agatha in learning how to cede control and Sophie in finally understanding why she’s never felt fulfilled. The personalities of other characters like Hort, Anadil and Reena also become much more fleshed-out. Of course, given the huge collection of characters in this book (actually Books 4-6 as a whole), most attention is given to the major players but there’s definitely enough material for spin-offs with minor characters (*looks at Soman hopefully*). The adult characters also play important roles and have nuanced personalities, which is refreshing to see in YA. While pretty much all of them made questionable decisions in the past (that their kids are now ensnared by), the adults really do try to make amends and help their children, both Good and Evil! Speaking of Evil…Japeth is so loathsome.

“Girls have a stink that can’t scrub off. Aric had a good way of describing it. Like a rose gone to rot. I can smell it anywhere. But you . . . I’m afraid you reek of it worst of all.”

Because that’s not creepy at all! Some villains I like or at least respect on some level, but not Japeth. Cheating, gaslighting, scum of the earth.

The aforementioned character development is what makes the romance in this book so convincing. Tedros and Agatha really grow together as a team, especially at the end, and though I have always shipped them, in OTK it feels like their relationship grows deeper and more mature. (Not sexually, I mean… wiser? More understanding of each others’ whole selves.)

“If anything happens to me, don’t mourn for me…You’re to go on. You’re to keep fighting. You’re to do what needs to be done. Don’t let what happens to me stop us from getting to The End. I’m with you in life and death.”


^ Me refusing to consider the possibility of a major character death. There were many moments of hysterical laughing in denial!

Two other major, fan-favourite (I think?) ships also bloomed, and I’m so thankful they felt natural and not like fan-service. I won’t elaborate too much as I don’t want to spoil, but I’m really happy that both parties in Sophie’s pairing did a lot of growing before finally getting together. Being comfortable alone and knowing yourself and what you want are important in a relationship! (Speaking as someone with zero experience, hah!) It’s oddly fitting that the queer relationships in the Endless Woods are finally being canonically realised during Pride Month. There aren’t labels in the Woods (which Soman has purposefully left vague) but it’s clear that same-sex relationships are recognised and there was also a brief discussion of gender fluidity! I was particularly happy about Tedros’ bisexuality/pansexuality, as it’s been fanon since Book 2 and finally, finally we’ve been validated.

The friendships were also a highlight of this book, especially that between the witches of the Coven.

“You’re my real family, you know,” Dot said softly to her friends. “And I know I’m a part of yours too. Even if you act like I’m not. Even if you two pretend you don’t need me. A coven is three. It has to be three. Because I’d be so lonely without you.”

Oh my heart. Absolute girl gang goals. I also loved the reaffirmation of the Sophie-Agatha friendship, and other characters growing out of earlier childish jealousies. This truly feels like a coming-of-age novel!

In classic SGE style, OTK offers some apt social commentary and general life lessons. The concept about how fate and free will must operate in tandem is particularly insightful – life really does test us and builds us into who we are.

We are all objects of our fate, but our will decides whether we overcome the challenges fate brings us. The Storian only begins our tale. We must end it.
I also loved how it stresses that kingship isn’t through blood, the right to govern is earned, and that no leader should reign forever. Owning up to your mistakes rather than seeking to blame or deny, and using your regrets to move forward is another important message.
At some point, people become afraid of life’s mysteries. With age, their lives get smaller and smaller. They judge with their fears instead of their hearts. In your world, not everyone can have a happy ending. The Pen won’t allow it. But in my world, every Man thinks they deserve one. They turn on each other when things go wrong. They try to beat back the hand of fate. And when they can’t…that’s when Evil is born. Real Evil.

Upon finishing this book, I was both happy and heartbroken. Joyous because of what an amazing ending SGE was given, but devastated that this was The End.I suppose the only remedy is a re-read soon…

“The End of Ends…the stories told…What wondrous souls you are.”

Thanks so much if you’ve made it to here – that was a long one! Have you read any of ‘The School for Good and Evil’ books, or do you plan to? Let me know any thoughts below…

2 thoughts on “Review: ‘One True King’ (‘The School for Good and Evil’, #6) by Soman Chainani

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