Hey there! If you’re here, you’re probably a Conspiracy of Us reader, getting ready for The Ends of the World, book 3 in the Conspiracy series, to release on July 18, and need to remember all that’s happened leading our fearless characters to this point. Or maybe not. Maybe you’re bored and on social media. Maybe you liked The DaVinci Code and heard these books are like a YA version with kissing. Maybe you aren’t usually into books that have a girl in a dress on the cover but you heard there’s a beheading in this one, so it might be okay. (And it’s true! There totally is!) Whatever your reason for checking out this recap, welcome! And be forewarned: SPOILERS.
ALL THE SPOILERS.
NO, SERIOUSLY. STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT THE ENTIRETY OF CONSPIRACY OF US AND MAP OF FATES SPOILED.
Okay. Now that that’s done. Off we go.
Book One: The Conspiracy of Us
The “I Don’t Have Time to Read the Long One” Version:
Sixteen-year-old Avery West has always believed that her dad left when she was little, and that she has no family but her mom. She discovers that not only does she have plenty of family, but they’re one of the twelve families of a secret society called the Circle of Twelve, a group that’s been around since the time of Alexander the Great. The Circle families are v.v. rich and influential, with their hands in everything from starting wars to politics to entertainment to the stock market and beyond. Essentially, they rule the world.
The bad part? Avery is important to their schemes. Which means she—or, more specifically, getting rid of her—is also important to the Circle’s rivals, the Order. So as Avery runs around Europe attempting to follow clues left by an old family friend who’s in trouble with the Order, too, she has to try to stay out of their clutches.
Luckily, she has someone on her side. Jack Bishop works for the Circle, but he also feels a lot of personal responsibility for Avery, and he’s trying to keep her safe. Unfortunately, when you’re hiding from the world’s most powerful people, you won’t be able to hide long. Another boy who works for the Circle, Stellan Korolev, discovers Avery’s secrets, and the family he works for kidnaps her to be forced into marriage with their son to fulfill an ancient Circle prophecy.
Avery manages to escape the wedding, and discovers that all she’s learned is only the beginning. Turns out there’s a lot more to Stellan than anyone knew—he’s actually the person the prophecy is about. In a final blow, the Order kill Avery’s family friend and kidnap her mother, meaning she’s now entwined with the Circle for good.
The Longer Version:
We begin in small-town Minnesota, where Avery West has been attending school for a few months. Her dad left them when she was little, and she and her mom have moved at least once a year for as long as Avery can remember. So she not only has no family—friends are pretty hard to come by, too. But right now, Avery’s not the newest kid in school. A guy named Jack Bishop showed up a few days ago, and he seems to have developed an interest in Avery.
The night of the prom, though, yet another new guy—Stellan—shows up and claims to have information about her family. As in, the people she’s wanted her whole life but thought didn’t exist. Against her better judgment, she leaves with Stellan to meet these people—only to find out they’re not at the local Dairy Queen. They’re in Paris.
Avery quickly learns this family of hers is not what you’d call normal. The private jet is a tipoff. So is the fact that they live in the Louvre. Literally inside one of the wings of the world’s most famous museum. Oh, and famous people appear to be part of the family. And when it’s discovered that she hasn’t packed appropriate clothes for the weekend, they shut down a Prada store for her to shop. NBD.
Kind of a BD, though? The fact that inside that Prada store? Someone TRIES TO KILL HER. Literally. Knife, ballgown, running for her life.
She’s saved by two people: a boy named Luc, who happily beheads the attacker, and none other than Jack Bishop. Turns out he works for this mysterious group her family belongs to, just like Stellan does. Avery decides Jack is the most trustworthy one of the bunch, and enlists his help to tell her the story of the Circle of Twelve: twelve families, descendants of Alexander the Great’s heirs, who have their hands in every aspect of world affairs, from starting wars over petty inter-family squabbles to finding more and more ways to make themselves rich. Avery is a member of one of the families.
And that’s not all. Avery has purple eyes. So does the direct line of the Circle—the male side, at least. There has not been a girl with purple eyes in a very, very long time. But they’ve been waiting for one. The mandate, a very important Circle prophecy, states that a girl with purple eyes, when married to another heir, will bring the Circle even more power. The Circle thinks Avery is a distant relative and doesn’t realize she is, in fact, this purple-eyed girl, but if they do find out, she’ll be married off to be used for that power. Of course, this means that the Circle’s enemies would prefer she didn’t exist. It was probably them—the Order—who almost killed her just now.
A secret society that rules the world? Arranged marriage? Another powerful group so threatened by her they want her dead? No thank you.
Avery does care about finding her family, but it isn’t worth her life. Jack doesn’t want to let her run, but the Dauphin contingent (Dauphins=one of the twelve families) are going to Istanbul tonight, to a club (as you do). Luc is the son of the Dauphin family, and Stellan (and another friend of theirs, Elodie) work for them. Avery tags along, knowing an old family friend of her mom’s, Mr. Emerson, lives in Istanbul and will help her.
Stellan’s starting to get suspicious, so it’s not easy to get away, but Avery manages, and ends up on the unfamiliar streets of Istanbul, Turkey, all alone. Not for long, though—Jack has put a tracker on her and followed her here. Of course. Because these people aren’t sketchy enough. But it turns out that Jack knows Mr. Emerson, too. He’s also a Circle tutor, and Jack knows him as Fitz. Turns out the family friend connection wasn’t as random as Avery assumed.
When they get to Mr. Emerson/Fitz’s apartment, though, the older man has been kidnapped. And his kidnappers—undoubtedly the Order—come after Avery and Jack, too. A high-speed chase through the streets and markets of Istanbul ensues, and Avery and Jack barely make it out alive—and with a clue Fitz left for them. It leads them to the Hagia Sophia, where they sneak in and discover yet another clue. Back to Paris they go.
In Paris, Avery and Jack follow the clues first to Notre Dame, then to the Louvre. Unfortunately, while they’re following clues, the Order guys who kidnapped Fitz are following them, trying to get the clues themselves. They manage one last narrow escape by pretending to be involved in a romantic moment—that leads to a real romantic moment when they kiss.
Unfortunately, the romance is short-lived. Avery is disappointed when Jack apologizes for the kiss—people who work for the Circle are expressly forbidden from fraternizing with family members.
Back to platonic partners, Avery and Jack inspect the clue they found in the Louvre—the Order guys have threatened Fitz’s life unless they hand over the info. It’s a diary, which appears to have belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte. And in it, some explosive information: the Circle is wrong about their interpretation of the mandate—their prophecy. The person she needs to be married to isn’t just anyone. It’s a specific person. Who? Well, the rest of the mandate is still lost. And according to this diary, it’s in none other than Alexander the Great’s tomb. No prob. That should be easy to find.
As she keeps working on solving the clue that could save Fitz, Avery attends a Circle party—where she meets the Saxon family. Who look exactly like her. Jack has been keeping from her that his boss, Alistair Saxon, is her father. Oops.
But she knows Jack had his reasons for lying—he wanted to make sure it was safe for her before he revealed what he knew to either side. Plus, he’s the only person here she really trusts. And okay, she really, really likes him, and has since back in the US. She forgives him.
But—oh no! The Dauphins have discovered what Avery really is—the purple-eyed girl from the mandate!—and are going to marry her off to their son Luc.
Avery has one last hope: Napoleon’s diary. The clues. If she can find out who the person her “union” is with really is, assuming it’s not actually Luc, the wedding might be postponed. They put together all the clues they’ve found over the quest, and surprise! There aren’t twelve families of the Circle. There are actually thirteen. One is Alexander the Great’s own bloodline. And the union is meant to be with Alexander’s heir. And that heir—surprise again!—is actually Stellan.
Avery’s forced into the wedding anyway, but informs the rest of the Circle exactly who she is and that the Dauphins are keeping a purple-eyed girl from them, and in the chaos, escapes with the help of Jack and Stellan, who is intrigued enough by what they discovered to help her. Unfortunately, they’re too late to help Fitz. The Order has killed him—and kidnapped Avery’s mother.
Book Two: Map of Fates
The “I Don’t Have Time to Read the Long One” Version:
The Order, the Circle’s arch nemeses, have killed Fitz, kidnapped Avery’s mom, and are waging war against the Circle by killing them off one by one across the globe. The Circle—including Avery’s family, the Saxons—think the only way to stop them is by fulfilling the mandate, which means marrying Avery off. Besides the fact that it’s a ludicrous idea, Avery knows that the person the union is with isn’t just any Circle member—it’s Stellan. But she goes along with the Saxons’ plan anyway, in order to travel around the world in search of clues that could lead to Alexander the Great’s tomb. It’s only if she turns over that info that the Order will spare her mom’s life.
When clues from India, Venice, and Greece lead Avery, Jack, and Stellan back to Paris, however, they discover something much bigger: it hasn’t been the Order behind her mom’s kidnapping and the attacks after all. It’s been the Saxons. Her family.
More determined than ever to stop them, the crew goes after one last clue, at the Cannes Film Festival. But the Saxons catch up and learn the clues’ secret: the “union” in the mandate does not mean marriage. It means that when Avery’s and Stellan’s blood is combined, it creates a virus that can kill Circle members.
Avery manages to save her mom from the Saxons—only to have them kill her, and lots of other people, with Avery’s own blood. To stop them from hurting anyone else, Avery and Stellan have no choice: they declare themselves the thirteenth family of the Circle, and its rightful rulers.
The Longer Version:
We catch up with Avery and Jack and Stellan in Paris. Things are a mess. The Order has Avery’s mother, and has threatened to kill her unless Avery delivers the location of Alexander the Great’s tomb that the clues she and Jack have should lead to. Problem? They only have half the clues, and since they’re fugitives from the Circle, they can’t so much as get out of Paris to search for more. Reluctantly, Avery decides her only chance is to seek the help of her family—the Saxons.
Unfortunately, the Saxons are only interested in the mandate. The “union” it calls for—marrying Avery into one of the other Circle families—will supposedly give them power to stop their “greatest enemies.” The Order. Who have not only killed Avery’s old friend Fitz and kidnapped her mom, but have been murdering Circle members all over the world. Avery’s about to ditch the Saxons for good when she hears their plan: they’re going to travel around the world and meet possible Circle suitors. And some of the places they’re set to travel are places where Fitz’s clues lead.
Avery agrees to this tour of eligible Circle heirs—even though she knows it’s really Stellan who she’s supposed to marry for this elusive power, and thinks the whole thing is ridiculous anyway. So she and Jack and Stellan scour every city for clues. Most go nowhere, but they find some information in India, and in Venice, and it directs them to Greece.
Unfortunately, the Order hasn’t backed off the Circle. Two of the heirs Avery meets on the tour are murdered. And then, while Avery is at an event with one of the families, their son is killed right in front of her. Avery thought she didn’t care about the Circle, but seeing these people she’d gotten to know assassinated makes her want to stop the Order for more than her mom’s sake.
Avery, Jack, and Stellan end up on a yacht in Greece with Luc Dauphin, Elodie, who also works for the Dauphins, and Colette, a famous actress and Dauphin cousin. There they find another clue! Yay! But it just leads to yet another clue. Boo.
With the countdown to d-day for her mom getting closer, Avery starts to get a little reckless. She sees people who might be Order and tries to chase them down. Jack is worried about her fitness to continue their quest, considering her emotional involvement. Avery informs him in no uncertain terms that it’s not his decision to make. Yikes. Tension! And what doesn’t make the tension better? When Avery nearly drowns, and it’s Stellan who saves her. Yikes again. As they head back to Paris following another clue, Jack is acting more possessive and protective, and Avery can’t handle it.
But all the drama is forgotten when Avery discovers that the Saxons—her own family—have been posing as the “Order” this whole time. Fitz’s death, her mom’s kidnapping, the murder of all the Circle members—it all comes back to the Saxons. And now, they’ve kidnapped Avery, too.
The rest of the crew manages to break Avery out, with an unlikely helper: the guy she thought was Order the whole time, who had been working for the Saxons. He wants to work for whoever is the most powerful in the Circle—and decides that’s Avery. She finds that more than a little overwhelming, but she’ll take it, and they escape.
They take an overnight train to Cannes, where they know the last clue is waiting. They’re going to have to heist it from the Cannes Film Festival. Before they can, though, Avery discovers something horrible: turns out Jack had been reporting on her to the Saxons all along. He’d stopped when he found out what they were really up to, but dude, too late. It kills Avery to admit it, but the damage is done. They’re through.
Stellan comforts her, and after a few drinks, they kiss. A lot.
But—problem! The heist they were planning to pull the next day suddenly has to be done tonight. Avery sobers up physically and emotionally and realizes she’s made a huge mistake with Stellan. Doesn’t matter now—they get to the film festival and are working on getting their last clue when the Saxons show up. And blow up the place, of course.
The crew manages to escape with the last clue, but the Saxons are on their heels and force them to decipher it. It turns out the “union” doesn’t mean marriage at all. It means that when Avery’s and Stellan’s blood is combined, it forms a compound deadly to the Circle’s greatest enemies, which isn’t the Order at all. It’s the other Circle families. Their blood is lethal to the Circle.
They’ve been forced to give up the info, but escape with their lives—and with Avery’s mom, who they save from the Saxons.
Unfortunately, the Saxons now know the secret of their blood. In a last-ditch effort to keep them from spreading the info, Avery confronts them at a public event. What she doesn’t know is that they’ve picked that event to test it out. It’s a bloodbath as the tiniest drop of the combined blood make countless distant Circle members fall down dead—and at the same time, kills Avery’s mom.
In shock over her mom’s sudden death and the knowledge of what her blood can do, Avery does the only thing she can think of to stop it. She tells the Circle exactly who the union is with, and declares herself and Stellan the thirteenth family of the Circle—and their de facto rulers.
Images via giphy
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