Publisher: Pyr Books
Page Count: 368
Release Date: June 12th, 2018
Series: THE TAROT SEQUENCE, Book 1
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars – Liked It!
New Atlantis. Established a few decades ago on the island of Nantucket, it’s home to all kinds of magical creatures and entities. It’s here that the various Tarot Courts of Atlantis have reestablished themselves after their homeland was destroyed in a recent war. Rune Saint John is a scion of the Sun Court, but instead of living in luxury, he’s scrounging to get by. That’s because his family and home were destroyed in a devastating massacre twenty years ago, leaving Rune alone except for his bodyguard Brand. Together the two do odd jobs for Lord Tower, an extremely powerful Atlantean who has taken Rune under his wing since the attack. This time, Lord Tower is concerned about his missing godson Addam, second-in-line to the Court of Justice. What starts as an investigation into business dealings gone wrong quickly becomes so much more, as someone has unleashed a powerful evil on the city, one that fuels itself on death and could become unstoppable if Rune doesn’t find a way to banish it soon.
THE LAST SUN was one of those books that started off on the wrong foot with me, but managed to course correct into a book where I am eager with anticipation about reading the sequel. That lack of enjoyment in the beginning largely has to do with how hard I bounced off the characters for the first third of the book. I found Rune Saint John to be an incredible prick, and his interactions with Brand and Matthias didn’t come across as banter so much as three people sniping at each other. I even briefly considered putting this down and walking away, but knowing how much others enjoyed this book, I decided to soldier on, especially since I was enjoying the magic system.
And then Quinn showed up and finally, FINALLY I began to see some heart in the characters, began to see them being protective and putting their lives on the line for people they barely knew. Banter finally started feeling like banter, and I began to care what happened to Rune. It helps that the author started delving into Rune’s vulnerable side, and revealing secrets from his past that began to flesh him out not simply as a trauma victim, but someone who is much more calculating than we’re first led to believe. (Taking a moment to note that there are flashbacks and references to a past sexual assault, so proceed as you see fit.) The epilogue teased so many things I want to know more about, putting sequel THE HANGED MAN high on my priority list.
Oh, and there’s a simmering romance in there that warmed things up even further and added another character I quite enjoyed, but that’s a bit of a spoiler so I’ll let you discover that storyline on your own!
I always enjoy a good magic system, and THE LAST SUN has it in spades. Aside from cantrips (quick spells that require little energy), most magic requires an Atlantean to channel a spell into a sigil focus, to be stored until the caster chooses to release the spell. The art of sigil-making has been lost, so sigils are incredibly rare and finite, thereby limiting the number of spells a person can have on hand at any time. This means Rune (or any other spellcaster) has to choose carefully not only what spells they have prepared, but also at what point to use them – once they’re spent, it can take minutes or hours of focus to load a sigil back up again. Rune also has an innate kind of magic called an Aspect that is specific to each Court, a magic that lets him “Hulk out,” if you will, when under intense pressure. I did wish the details about Atlantean Aspects had been a little better defined, as I was unclear if anybody who came from Atlantis had an aspect, or if it was a bloodline thing limited to the Courts or how exactly it worked. Also, Brand is a Companion with a capital C – is he an enhanced human or Something Else?
On that note, the world-building is a bit of weak-link in the book. We know that New Atlantis was built fairly recently (in the last three or four decades) but what old Atlantis was like or what the Atlantean World War (which destroyed the old city) was about or who it involved is a mystery. Did everyone in original Atlantis belong to one of the Tarot courts or was there a lower class population? Yes, you can enjoy the books without knowing this information, but there are just enough references to the past that I wanted answers.
But let’s not end this review on a downer, because it DID completely win my heart by the end. The finale, a siege at a magical compound, is full of sword fights and spell-slinging and hero-moments. And I should be clear, this book has great action sequences throughout, one thing that kept me reading through the rougher beginning. Everything fires on all cylinders at the end, from the deadpan gallows humor to the overwhelming odds facing our heroes that keeps them constantly on their toes and devising new strategies. THE LAST SUN absolutely stuck the landing, and I will be back to this world soon to delve further into the mysterious past of Rune Saint John.