Hey everyone! Recently, I´ve discovered an urban fantasy duology (that will be expanded into a series later on) that blew my mind so much that the moment I closed the second book, I just knew I would never be able to forgive myself if I didn´t share it with you. So, come with me into this wonderful journey that I swear you will never regret.
This is a completely spoiler-free review, proceed with tranquility
The Last Sun
During the first book in the series, we get introduced to the world of New Atlantis: a reconstruction of the original Atlantis which was destroyed after they unraveled themselves to the world back in the 1960s. This society is organized in different courts, each of them inspired in the Major Arcana of tarot decks.
This story follows Rune Saint John, the heir of the Sun Throne and the only survivor of the raid that took place in his court when he was fifteen. His father´s throne fell with him and even though our hero survives, he wasn’t left unharmed.
Fear not because our heir is not alone. Years after that terrible attack on his state, Rune lives and works with Brand, his bodyguard, though the bond they share goes further; closer than siblings or even twins, Rune and Brand face the world together on every step of the way.
Our pair of misfits work for another nobleman called The Tower, who sends them into multiple kinds of frivolous jobs in exchange for money to pay their next rent. During The Last Sun Rune and Brand are hired to find Addam Saint Nicholas, Lady Judgement´s missing son, and second in line for the throne. But the closer they get to him; the more Rune starts to uncover secrets hidden in his past that might change everything.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Initially, his novel caught my attention by its premise: a queer, urban-fantasy book is something I can simply not resist, and, in the end, it didn´t disappoint! The author created a complex, well-built world that even going through the first pages, you can sense just how much dedication and thought he´s given to it. Every single detail is covered, and I found it really interesting how he managed to merge all these made-up elements with the real-world ones, they all coexist in a way that not only makes sense, but that makes you wish you could live there too.
Even though the world-building is outstanding, what I really think takes the crown of this book is the characters, they are all unique and intriguing, each one of them with a special story to tell. Rune is hilarious, we see the events that unfold round the book on account of his sassy and slightly child-like point of view, although we can constantly feel a certain tint of roughness only attained after experiencing simply the darkest and most terrible things the world has to offer. Rune is ruthless and epic, an imperfect hero yes, but with an enormous heart. Even after everything he´s been through, our protagonist finds within himself to be kind to those who deserve it (and even sometimes to those who don´t) and that, is a different kind of strength not owned by many.
Regarding the rest of the characters, I think that there´s not much that I can say without entering into a spoilery zone, so as for now, I will keep it short and true: I really enjoyed to experience Rune´s companion bond with Brand develop so much, even more so than the romantic relationship. It was refreshing for once to see the friendship connection get more attention given how in most novels, friends are all good and merry until the main love interest waltzes in, and they suddenly fall in second place.
However, those who are here for the gay bit, you won’t be disappointed either 🙂
As much as I like to praise it, The Last Sun is not perfect, and I did have my issues with it; first of all, this is nothing major but it still bothered me for some reason, I was told within the first pages of this book that Rune was about thirty-five, and to be honest, it didn´t feel like it at all. It was not about maturity per se, but… his voice didn´t echo an adult´s. If the author would´ve avoided that fact, I would´ve easily believed that he was a teenager.
On the other side, I found myself overwhelmed for great part of the book. Too many things happened at once, so much so that there were times in which I didn´t even get to process the first attack that three more were thrown into the mix and I was just confused.
And besides, there were too many concepts introduced at once that I found hard to grasp given how quickly they were explained; I know that when it comes to the fantasy genre, one really must have patience, after all, it is a whole new world set by a completely different set of rules that the author created, but I just didn´t find the book reader-friendly for the most part.
Finally, I wanted to remark that after this book, fans claimed the author for more diversity in The Tarot Sequence and he listened, you will find diverse voices and representation later on. I guess I just wanted to shoutout KD Edwards for this because not many authors listen to their audience as he does and try to accept and change their mistakes. It´s something that I, as a reader and reviewer really appreciate.
The Hanged Man
During this sequel of The Last Sun, Rune finds himself once again dealing with the sick and twisted politics of the powerful people of New Atlantis after one of the most dangerous and mysterious of Arcana that goes under the name of The Hanged Man threatens one of his own. But this time around, Brand and Rune discover that they are no longer alone as they once were, this time, their wonderful family of misfits has their back.
Our hero realizes that he has more allies than he thought.
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ★
As you might have read earlier in this article, I was not the biggest fan of The Last Sun. It was a pretty enjoyable read, but I didn´t fall in love like I´d seen most of the Goodreads community do so to be honest, I didn´t really know what to expect with The Hanged Man, but if there´s one thing I can say for sure is that I´m so very glad I gave it a go.
The Hanged Man was truly a game-changer for me; it is really a sign of improvement and development from the author´s part, almost every single thing that bothered me about the first book was fixed.
Even though this sequel was far from quiet, it did take a step back on the action, there were many exciting combats and thrilling adventures but we also got those gentler moments, where we could really appreciate the essence of these characters, what made them tickle, what they hoped for, what made them who they are. Then, the terminology was better explained and thrown further in between each other, leaving the reader a little bit of time to let the names sink in, to learn, and understand their meaning. So, The Hanged Man, had me much more oriented most of the time which I really appreciate.
Then, if you read my review on The Last Sun, you must´ve seen that I complained about how poorly the characters acted in retrospection of their age. With this book, I came to understand that in this world, age is moldable, and the life span is larger than the ones us mortals have so, I guess that in the New Atlantis’ eyes, thirty-five-year-old, are authorized to act like teens sometimes.
And as much as I loved The Hanged Man´s plot, my point keeps standing, what really makes this book shine is its characters, their hearts are shown to the light of the sun when we see just how they approach life, judged by every single thing that they went through before. Full of diversity and complex arcs, The Tarot Sequence bears a rich cast of lovable characters whose bonds they formed (or reinforced) during The Hanged Man just stole my heart away. They are too good for this world.
All in all, I think that the author took everything that made The Last Sun a great book and enhanced those features creating a completely new and stronger sequel full of feelings: I swear that I laughed out loud with Brand’s snarky remarks (and Addam´s witty ones) and I won´t admit nor deny that a few tears stroke past my face in some moments. (Okay, you got me, several tears in several moments.)
Well, I think that´s all for today, everyone! I really hope I was able to make justice to this wonderful series and I can´t wait to see what comes next! This is just the beginning of the journey, given that there will be nine books in total so stay tuned!
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And remember, even if sometimes feels like it, you´re not alone, there´s always something rooting for you. But if you feel that no one out there is, I would happily be that person, here´s my email if you ever need someone to talk to, I will respond. firstname.lastname@example.org