Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Book Review: The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley

Pros: excellent world-building, lots of action, complex characters and plot

Cons: minor irritants

Note: This is the third book in the series and as such my review contains spoilers for the earlier books. This is an excellent series. You can read my review of book 1 here.

It’s been several months since the events in The Providence of Fire. Adare remains with Il Tornja in the North, protecting Annur from the barbarian Urghul. When a messenger from Kaden’s republic arrives, asking for her to return to the capital as a puppet ruler, a series of events unfolds, allowing Il Tornja to pursue his true goal. Meanwhile the remains of Valyn’s wing return to the Eyrie to find out what’s happened there, while Kaden tries to untangle the mystery of gods walking the earth.

The first few chapters get you back up to speed with regards to what everyone’s been up to the past few months. It’s a bit disorienting, but things quickly get interesting as the intrigues pile up. There are a number of plots weaving around each other, getting ever more complicated as time goes on.

There’s a fair amount of action, with descriptions of war, torture (limited), and a LOT of one on one or small group battles. The action is varied and never dull. In between, there’s a fair bit of politics (mainly Adare) and philosophical questions (mainly Kaden). 

One scene greatly confused me for a few pages until I finally figured out what was happening. More on this in the spoiler section.

As with the other books the world-building is fantastic. We get to see more of the world, including learning more about the Skullsworn and their religious order. 

The motivations of the characters are as complex as the plot. People make, question, and regret decisions. They act in own best interests based on their information of what’s going on in the world. They lie to advantage and tell the truth when it suits them. They’re infuriating at times, and completely understandable.

It’s a great ending to an excellent series.


The scene I’m referring to above is the one where Valyn shows up again. The POV character is a boy named Valyn and at first I thought it was a flashback or a fever dream. I started to question those interpretations but it wasn’t until prince Valyn actually showed up that I fully realized my mistake. In the author’s defence, it does make sense that kids would be named after the royal family, and the descriptions clearly showed it wasn’t the prince, so the mistake is entirely my own.

I thought the end battles were surprisingly - restrained. At first I was a bit annoyed that we didn’t get to see the leach battle and get more details of some of the fights in the tower, but then I realized that by this point there’s been a lot of fighting and sometimes too much is worse than not enough. Balendin’s end was fully detailed and the struggle in the tower was heavily realized. At this point in the book, a quick resolution was really the best decision.

I would have loved a short scene at the end explaining if Gwenna and co intended (or were even able) to bring back the Kettral. With only one or two birds and a handful of people remaining I’m assuming not, but part of me was hoping they’d find a clutch of eggs and start training new recruits.

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