My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Brian Staveley’s tale finally comes of age in The Last Mortal Bond. I guess the imminent climax coerces the author to finally align his disturbingly mind-boggling sorry arcs to converge at the center of Annur where it literally all begun.
Our dark Prince, Valyn hui’Malkeenian, long forgotten and thought dead by everybody, including his Wing, now headed by the red-headed Gwenna Sharpe, finally meet, although it’s not the heart to heart I was gunning for. He also meets the other last remaining Kettral Wing under the legendary Flea, who has been terrorising the Urghul before disappearing into the night like ghosts. Not to end there, Valyn comes face to face with his treacherous sister, Adare hui’Malkeenian who stabbed him and left him for dead in the previous installment. You know, it’s with complete satisfaction that I write this. The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne had a way it dispersed instrumental characters to far-flung regions that they don’t meet and each makes terrible mistakes with the half knowledge they possess. It was quite vexing.
My second personal hero, Kaden, after pussyfooting around with the stunningly beautiful and equally scarred Triste finally come to see eye and eye, and this has been long in coming. With Ciena, a supposed God or maybe a Csestriim (I won’t spill the ending for you) trapped inside of her, Triste is both parts vulnerable and dangerous beyond measure. Kaden sets off through the kenta to find Long Fist, leader of the Urghul aka Horm, leader of the brutal Ishien aka Meshkent, God of Pain aka Ciena’s consort, both of whom supposedly birthed the humans, etc. Titles aside, Long Fist is at the center of the upheaval in Annur, the deaths and economic meltdown all round. And on top of which, the undying Csestriim general il Tornja is hell bent on destroying both Long Fist/Meshkent and Triste/Ciena, as he did the last two Gods. Supposedly. According to the venerable Shin/Ishien monk,Tan, it’s all a ploy to destroy humanity and they are all Csestriim. Whom would you have me believe?
The Last Mortal Bond goes on hyperdrive in the middle of the plot when Brian Staveley let’s go of of irritating arcs and gets down to the ultimate climax. Without the need to do mental acrobatics fusing and melding plots, the story becomes much much more interesting. We get to see the unstoppable inhumanly vicious monster Valyn has become. We get to appreciate Gwenna’s unlikely leadership skills, we stand in awe of the Flea’s Wing, 2 men short and undiminished in their ferocity. We fall in love with Triste’s quiet strength and Kaden’s genius. We trim our fingers to the nub with our teeth at the invincible il Tornja whose endgame is anybody’s guess, and salivate at the inevitable showdown between the crazy and immensely entertaining Nira and her equally crazy and immensely strong brother and legendary Atmani leach, Oshin. And then there’s the devil’s spawn, the emotion leach, Balendin, marching the Urghul right to the gates of Annur and leaving a trail of horrors the likes of which have never been witnessed, all the whole amassing his strength with his kenning.
The climax was everything I wanted and hoped for. Bravo on that count! It took the author long enough to set it up! The 4 stars are well deserved.
*The showdown between Nira and her brother wasn’t what I expected.
*The showdown between Valyn and il Tornja didn’t end how I expected.
*The Eyrie. That broke my heart.
* Valyn. My man, he got a raw deal. I’d like a miniseries for him.
*Kaden and Triste. How I love those two! They deserved more.
*Adare. Singularly the worst character in the series, whom I disliked the most from the get go. Usurper of great people.