The third and final book in Rainbow Rowell’s Simon Snow trilogy comes out this Tuesday, and we could not be more excited. This was one of our most anticipated books of 2021, promising to wrap up the stories of some of our all-time favourite fictional characters, in Baz, Simon and Penelope.
But there have been some pretty big gaps between these books. We waited four years between Carry On and Wayward Son, and now it’s been almost two years since we last visited the World of Mages. If you’re worried that you won’t remember enough about the story or the world to jump right into Any Way The Wind Blows, this post is for you!
Here are 8 things you should know about what’s happening in the Simon Snow universe before you read the final installment.
Warning: Major spoilers for Carry On and Wayward Son ahead!
- Simon is having a bit of an identity crisis
When we first met Simon Snow, he was your archetypical Chosen One. He was prophesied to defeat the Insidious Humdrum, and had spent his time at Watford reacting to every challenge the Humdrum threw at him, which often involved saving his girlfriend Agatha. He was the most powerful magician the world had ever seen, though he had very little idea how to use his power. His entire life had basically been planned out for him: he was going to learn how to use his magic, defeat the Humdrum, kill his roommate and mortal enemy Baz, and marry Agatha. That was the plan.
And then, Carry On happened.
As it turns out, Simon was the Humdrum all along. The reason Simon was so powerful was because he had been taking power from the rest of the world, and the only way he could fix this problem was by returning that power to the world, becoming Normal himself. Oh, and also, he was totally in love with Baz the whole time.
Wayward Son found Simon completely lost. Like another famous Chosen One, Simon had never had much of a life outside of Watford and the World of Mages, and yet he didn’t belong in that world anymore either. He had also given himself wings and a tail at the end of book 1, which made it difficult for him to blend in with Normals. All he really had was Baz and Penelope. And at the start of the book, he was pretty convinced they both deserved better than him.
After a roadtrip across America and a brush with death, Simon is feeling a bit better about himself. He’s planning on getting his wings removed for good, starting over as a Normal, making things work with Baz. This final installment in the trilogy is a new beginning for him. There’s a reason Wayward Son ended with a prologue, not an epilogue.
- Baz just learned a lot about vampires
Baz has spent his whole life trying to hide the fact that he’s a vampire. His family is quite anti-vampire, after all, as is most of the World of Mages. This is a problem for him, though, because mages don’t really know anything about vampires except how to kill them. He’s had to live his life in shame, killing animals in secret, draining them and trying to keep anyone from finding out about him.
In Wayward Son, though, Baz found out that Las Vegas is basically run by vampires. He met their leader, a charming man named Lamb, who showed him what happens when vampires are left to their own devices… they still keep to themselves. The vampires of Las Vegas regularly feed on people, but they never kill or turn them. Baz didn’t even know that was possible.
As it turns out, Baz’s lifestyle has left him malnourished and completely ignorant about his own abilities. How will this inform his actions in Any Way The Wind Blows? We’ll just have to wait and see.
- Penelope’s life plans have just gone out the window
Much like Simon, Penelope had her whole life planned out before the series even began, but in her case, it was by choice. She was going to graduate from Watford with Simon, marry her longtime boyfriend, Micah, and probably follow in her parents’ footsteps with some kind of Magickal career. But as Micah tells her in Wayward Son after breaking up with her, she never really loved him. She had never really put effort into the relationship. She had just checked it off as a life milestone.
She’s had to do some pretty serious self-reflection recently, and now she’s going back home to face the consequences of everything she did in Wayward Son.
- Shepard is going back to England with them
Shepard was a new addition to the cast in book 2. He’s an American Normal (a non-magickal person), who’s fascinated with magic. He spends his life chasing down magickal creatures, befriending them, and learning their secrets, just out of curiosity.
When he first showed up, it wasn’t entirely clear if he was trustworthy. Penny tried to ditch him several times, but he kept coming back and saving all their asses. Now, he’s gotten himself into trouble in America, and Penelope has offered to take him to England. What’s going to happen there? We’ll have to wait and see.
- Agatha tried to run away, and now she’s also coming back to England
Agatha went through an identity crisis of her own in Wayward Son. She was supposed to be the chosen one’s girlfriend, and nothing else. Every school year, she ended up in some kind of dangerous situation, and Simon rescued her. That was her life. She liked Simon just fine, but he had more important things to worry about than her.
And then, Carry On happened, and they broke up.
In Wayward Son, Agatha moved to America and tried her very best to cut all ties with the magickal world. She left her wand behind and stopped answering Penny’s calls, making Normal friends and building a Normal life for herself. It didn’t work out.
Her new Normal friends got caught up with NowNext (more on them later), and Agatha was once again dragged into the magickal world. She was kidnapped, again, and Simon had to rescue her, again. With that adventure out of the way, she seems to have finally given up on leaving the World of Mages. She’s going to get her wand back, and maybe figure out how to be a Mage in her own right?
- Baz and Simon are… okay?
Obviously, Simon and Baz’s relationship is the main draw of this story, and Wayward Son was mostly just angst. Simon didn’t think he deserved Baz. Baz could tell that he was losing Simon, but didn’t know how to fix things. Their relationship was almost on pause during the book, both of them unsure how to be together when they weren’t trying to save the world.
- NowNext is trying to unlock the secret to wielding magic
Wayward Son began without a true villain. It asked the question: what happens after the world has been saved? How do the heroes move on?
But it also introduced readers to a new threat: a cultish group of vampires known as NowNext, who are trying to “level up” by turning themselves into a new kind of magic-wielding vampires. Yes, like Baz.
These NowNext people are Normals who purposely got bitten by vampires. They drink blood out of bags and are uninterested in engaging with the wider vampire culture of Las Vegas. Now that they’ve turned themselves into vampires, they’re trying to figure out what makes Mages, Mages… so that they can learn to wield magic themselves.
Why is this a problem? Because no one should be that powerful, and they’re not going to use their power appropriately.
- Something bad is happening at Watford
Wayward Son ended on a cliffhanger, with Penny running up to Simon and Baz to let them know that they need to return home immediately, because something terrible has happened at Watford. We still don’t know what that is, but you can bet we’re going to find out at the start of book 3.
So there you have it. Simon, Baz, Penny and Agatha are done with their little journey of self-discovery and are ready to return home. They’re also definitely in a whole lot of trouble, because they broke many magickal rules and caused many big scenes during their road trip. Simon and Baz are trying to make things work. Shepard is part of the group for real now. And we have a new villain!
Carry On set up a typical Chosen One narrative, and then flipped it on its head. Wayward Son saw the main cast process the end of their story and try to run away from their problems. Any Way The Wind Blows is a fresh start for all of them.