Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review of The Last Page by Anthony Huso

"The city of Isca is set like a dark jewel in the crown of the Duchy of Stonehold. In this sprawling landscape, the monsters one sees are nothing compared to what’s living in the city’s sewers.
Twenty-three-year-old Caliph Howl is Stonehold’s reluctant High King. Thrust onto the throne, Caliph has inherited Stonehold’s dirtiest court secrets. He also faces a brewing civil war that he is unprepared to fight. After months alone amid a swirl of gossip and political machinations, the sudden reappearance of his old lover, Sena, is a welcome bit of relief. But Sena has her own legacy to claim: she has been trained from birth by the Shradnae witchocracy—adept in espionage and the art of magical equations writ in blood—and she has been sent to spy on the High King.
Yet there are magics that demand a higher price than blood. Sena secretly plots to unlock the Cisrym Ta, an arcane text whose pages contain the power to destroy worlds. The key to opening the book lies in Caliph’s veins, forcing Sena to decide if her obsession for power is greater than her love for Caliph.
Meanwhile, a fleet of airships creeps ever closer to Isca. As the final battle in a devastating civil war looms and the last page of the Cisrym Ta waits to be read, Caliph and Sena must face the deadly consequences of their decisions. And the blood of these conflicts will stain this and other worlds forever."
I wanted to start this review off by saying that I feel somewhat ashamed that I do at times... cringe... judge a book by it's cover. But, I gotta say that the Art Department at TOR hit this one out of the park. I just love that BAM of blue and smokey eye set with glyphs of magic... I want them. I don't care what I have to do... I want them. Wonders auspiciously if I can get a full poster of this cover to hang on my wall to just look at... wishfully thinking.

The synopsis for this book left my mouth watering. An age old book, holding secrets of a forgotten, inaccessible magic. Even more intriguing is that the books lock can only be opened with a recipe of blood and love. The novel focuses mainly on two character POV's and this was great for me because as the novel progressed I kept having ping-pong like battles in my head about which character I liked more. Wait, who am I kidding? The dice roll, this scenario comes up and, I am going to take the witch every time. I am really glad that Sena ended up having a major role in this book as I may have gotten tired of Caliph Howl. But, to be fair he had his strong points as well. After Caliph and Sena have left the High College the book took on this shroud of gloom over Caliph's head that did not let up the whole book and that was what kept his character interesting for me (sad I know). Was I actually going to read about a seemingly good guy being shoved into a position of power (that he did not want) and forced to go into civil war to keep his country and people free of a government run by a high council in lieu of a king? I guess I was. And I loved it to boot! Sena's scenes took the cake for me though. We got to see a little more of her background, her training, the Shradnae witchocracy who play just as important a role in the politics as any other peoples in the novel. And who doesn't love a witch who is trained in the high art of.... well, your just going to have to read and find out!

I talk about prose a LOT in my reviews. This is not something new to me. When I was a lot younger I did not pay attention to it as much. It was, read for the adventure and the places a book took my imagination. Then over the years, that and other things started taking second string to the words and construction of sentences of a book. I can certainly still read for the story elements and plot points and character development but now, I really know I am going to love a book when in the first chapter or so it is palpable that an author has taken his time with the words he or she writes. When words effect you in a way that they almost seem tangible. Take for instance this first quote I picked out of the The Last Page,
"Numbers became symbols. Symbols compiled words. "Language shapes reality," said the philosophers and linguists. So the maths of the Unknown Tongue deconstruct reality; form new realities-whatever realities the mathematician desires. "In reality," claimed the holomorphs of Desdae, "there is none."
Wow... I think I may have read that sentence five times before I moved on. They may not be significant to the story or they may. They may not catch anyone else reading the book. But to me, they inspire. They make me smile and think happy thoughts. This is what reading does for me and this is why I will try to bury myself in books. Compelling as this may be for me, it may turn others away. The word usage in this book gets a little complex and it helps to read from a Kindle that has a built in dictionary where all I have to do is highlight the word and it can tell me the meaning in a second.

Anyway... On with the rest of the review. Another thing that made this book stand out for me is that it's a veritable garden salad mix of genre's that has something for everyone in it. I like books that are not willing to be pigeon holed into one specific boundary of genre. This book has equal parts fantasy, magic, industrial steam-punk, military (zeppelin dog-fights), and bold enough for the men to carry swords! Fan-freakin'tastic if you ask me! And... And... And... On top of all that we get monsters!!! Sorry, brief slip on monster drool overflow.

This book does have a second part coming out called "Black Bottle" and I am REALLY excited about its release. The unknown untold meaning of the elusive title "The Last Page" provides me with enough mystery to keep reading and with a strong desire to find out what is in store for these characters that I have grown to care about. Thank-you Anthony Huso for this great story. Keep up the good work and good luck in all future endeavors.

My Song for Caliph and Sena...

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