Genre(s): Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Mythic Fantasy
Series: The Tarot Sequence #1
Release date: June 12th, 2018
/r/Fantasy Bingo Squares: Disability (HM)
Among those who matter I am known and notorious. I am the Catamite Prince; the Day Prince; the Prince of Ruin. I am the last scion of my dead father’s dead court, once called the Sun Throne, brightest of all Arcana, now just so much ash and rubble.
The wonderful Sharade over at The Fantasy Inn first put this book on my radar, and I have to say: she knows what she’s on about. I had such a good time with this book! Highly recommended to fans of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir or the Cradle series by Will Wight, The Last Sun is filled with lovable, snarky characters.
If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you may also have noticed me posting about this book lately as part of the Tarot Sequence Street Team Challenge. This is a fan-driven marketing push for the release of the second book, The Hanged Man. The publisher (Pyr) was kind enough to provide me with a copy for review, so keep on the lookout for that next week!
The Last Sun is an urban fantasy series set in a world where tarot cards were based on powerful magic users from the lost continent: Atlantis. Although Atlantis remained hidden from the human world for many, many years, it ultimately wasn’t able to hide any longer as human technology advanced. Satellites, GPS, and other developments finally led to humans discovering that there was an entire magical society sitting right beneath their noses. Humans and Atlanteans went to war, with many casualties on both sides. Although Atlantis is now well and truly lost, the Atlanteans have moved to the island of Nantucket after reaching peace accords with humanity. The Last Sun, however, is set long after these events; although relations between humans and Atlanteans are not perfect, they’ve largely integrated with one another.
The powers that be of Atlantis are based on Tarot cards. There is a Lord Tower, a Lady Lovers, etc, with each of the major arcana holding a throne of Atlantis. Some houses were lost during the war, however, such as the Emperor and the Empress, and the book opens on the sacking of Lady Lovers’ Heart Throne. The main character, Rune, is the titular Last Sun – the Sun Throne and their estates were destroyed in a raid when Rune was 15. He was the heir to the Sun Throne, and he and Brand were the only survivors of the attack on their house. As a content warning, the attack includes Rune being brutally raped. Although this happens off-screen, it is referenced several times throughout the book with a lien or two of fairly specific description attached. Twenty years later, the pair are still attempting to recover from the attacks both emotionally and economically. Fortunately, Lord Tower took them under his wing after the attack and has provided a certain level of patronage ever since.
If there’s one thing KD Edwards truly excels at, it’s writing fun, loveable, and snarky characters. Rune and Brand are the ultimate bromance. They watch each others backs and care about each other more than anything, but they also don’t hesitate to call the other out or give each other a bad time. Their banter is wonderfully irreverent. Anyone who tries to chalk their sense of humor up as anything other than “delightfully crude” is just plain wrong. Maybe their humor is a tad bit edgier or more low-brow than it needs to be at times, but you know what? I loved it. I ate it up. It was fun.
Matthias squinted at me and said, “Is that a—?”
“But it looks like a—”
“It isn’t,” I said. Brand started to open his mouth, so I pointed at him. Not all sigils were lucky enough to be shaped as jewelry or weapons. Sigils are tools for the manifestation of our magics, and our magics are driven by human appetites—aggression, sex, defense, shelter, and so on. Considering that, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that some sigils would be shaped as marital aides, like the one threaded through a leather strap and tied around my thigh.
“It’s a cock ring,” Brand told Matthias.
“Godsdamnit,” I said. “It’s a sigil. I have a Shatter spell in it. Do you know how few scions can pull off Shatter?”
“His magic cock ring,” Brand said.
Naturally, the rest of the cast is just as good. Did I mention that this has a terribly wholesome M/M romance aspect to it? Because it does and it’s great. Addam and Rune have great chemistry, especially considering Rune’s past trauma. He’s gentle, respectful, and genuinely cares about making sure that Rune is completely comfortable with every step they take in their relationship. When he accidentally hurts Rune with an off-hand comment or by pushing too hard, he steps back and does his best to never do it again without a moment’s hesitation.
“I am half-naked, Hero,” Addam said. “And yet you have not taken your eyes off the scissors. Such a vigilant warrior prince.”
Matthias, also known as Max, is Rune’s somewhat unexpected ward. He’s about the same age Run was when the Sun Throne was sacked, and struggles with many of the same traumas that Rune has had to work through over the years. Gradually, Rune and Brand learn to love him… and he, in turn learns to trust. Throughout the book, Max also becomes fast friends with Addam’s brother: Quinn. Quinn is a seer, a prophet of the rarest sort. Quinn is able to see probabilities, and uses his power to help assist the team in stopping the mysterious and evil force that seems to have its sights set on Rune and Addam.
Overall, the novel’s plot is fast-paced and full of action. The book has a satisfying story arc that hints at the future books to come, but doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger. At the start, it begins as a fairly simple missing person investigation. Lord Tower comes to the pair asking that Rune and Brand seek out his godson, who has been missing. As they dig deeper into what occurred, they encounter hostile forces that are a danger not only to themselves, but to all of new Atlantis. The scope of the novel grows rapidly, but with a natural progression that doesn’t feel forced. There’s an ebb and flow to the action, allowing you just enough time to catch your breath before the next bit of intensity begins. The mystery is engaging, forcing you to try to catch clues from Quinn about what the future might hold and just what kind of monstrosity they’re truly up against.
The Last Sun is absolutely perfect for anyone who wants a quick-paced read filled with lovable characters. The world is beautifully realized, combining aspects of modern human living with the magic of the Tarot arcana. I had a wonderful time reading this book, and if it sounds up your alley, please consider reaching out to me for more information on the Street Team activities! Even if you haven’t started the book yet, you’d be more than welcome to join me and the rest of Sun Court while you read along and join us in promoting The Tarot Sequence!
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Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you have any questions about it?
Let me know in the comments below!