The Last Sun: A colorful, action-packed, if slightly ragged urban fantasy

The Last Sun by K.D. EdwardsThe Last Sun by K.D. EdwardsThe Last Sun by K.D. Edwards

There is plenty to like in The Last Sun (2018), K.D. Edwards’ inaugural novel of THE TAROT SEQUENCE series. The story is set in New Atlantis, a city and an island in our world, but inhabited by the survivors of the original Atlantis. After a world-war with humans for reasons not given, the surviving Atlanteans settled in this spot. They interact with humans, but most of the action in this book takes place between feuding Atlantean family groups who name their clans or Houses after the Major Arcana of the Tarot.

Rune, our main character and first-person narrator, is the sole survivor of the House of the Sun. His house was massacred in a “raid,” a thing that Atlantean houses do to one another with surprising frequency and apparently for little or no reason. Now an adult, Rune is under the protection of Lord Tower, for whom he investigates crimes. He and his human bodyguard Brand are given an assignment from Lord Tower to find Addam, the son of Lady Judgment, who has gone missing. At the same time, Rune, who participated in a raid against the House of Lovers himself, accepts a task from Lady Lover. He agrees to deliver an item to a destination. As with deals with the faerie and wishes with djinn in bottles, the exact wording of a promise is important, and Rune finds himself saddled with a bigger responsibility than he anticipated. That promise is part of the story but it’s definitely the B-storyline, as Rune and Brand try to find Addam, and then try to stop the horrifying supernatural creature that’s been unleashed on New Atlantis.

The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards

Sequel

While the story and the plot of The Last Sun lean toward noir and hard-boiled detective, there is lots of banter. At some points, the tone of the story and the visuals reminded me of Simon R. Green’s NIGHTSIDE series. The mystery of Addam’s disappearance is twisty, with lots of clues. Along the way, we discover that there was far more to the massacre of Rune’s family than we first saw, and that he was raped and tortured during the attack. It seems that the torture was meant to trigger something, and as the story progresses we realize that Rune is more powerful than he seems. Designated heirs of Houses are called scions; but some are called Arcana, and at least two people opine that Rune is an Arcana.

Rune and Addam begin a flirtation that deepens into a near-romance as the story continues, and we see a bit more about inter-House politics. I liked Addam and the romantic relationship. I loved how the magic system in this world operates and I was impressed by the strange and powerful visual descriptions, particularly of the Westlands. (And, I loved that name. So close to “wastelands.” Excellent choice!) Attacks, double-crosses and chase scenes come thick and fast starting from the opening chapters and the book is a fast, entertaining read most of the time.

I did not understand how the Atlanteans fit into the mundane world, and how or why their family groups would be associated with the Tarot, even though that’s a fascinating idea. It’s not clear where Atlantis is or was, and how their specific clan nomenclature found its way into fifteenth century Europe. I know The Last Sun is only the first book, but I wanted a little more explanation.

There is a thread of torture and sexual cruelty — it isn’t sadism, because it is a means to an end, not meant to provide sexual release — that I was uncomfortable with. It is only a thread, and it is easily skimmed while you are reading, but it jarred in contrast to the banter and the brisk fight scenes. I think it is meant to show us that the Atlanteans are capable of evil, but I also think I would have figured that out. It was like a slimy bit of rotten lettuce in an otherwise tasty salad of ideas.

In spite of it I recommend The Last Sun, and I look forward to reading more about Brand, Addam and Rune.

Published June 12, 2018. In this debut novel and series starter, the last member of a murdered House searches for a missing nobleman, and uncovers clues about his own tortured past. Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Court, is hired to search for Lady Judgment’s missing son, Addam, on New Atlantis, the island city where the Atlanteans moved after ordinary humans destroyed their original home. With his companion and bodyguard, Brand, he questions Addam’s relatives and business contacts through the highest ranks of the nobles of New Atlantis. But as they investigate, they uncover more than a missing man: a legendary creature connected to the secret of the massacre of Rune’s Court. In looking for Addam, can Rune find the truth behind his family’s death and the torments of his past?

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Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town. You can read her blog at deedsandwords.com, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

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3 comments

  1. “It was like a slimy bit of rotten lettuce in an otherwise tasty salad of ideas.”

    Perfect analogy! So perfect that I can almost taste rotten lettuce, ugh.

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