About the book
The city of Isca is set like a dark jewel in the crown of the Duchy of Stonehold. In this sprawling landscape, the monsters one sees are nothing compared to what’s living in the city’s sewers.
Twenty-three-year-old Caliph Howl is Stonehold’s reluctant High King. Thrust onto the throne, Caliph has inherited Stonehold’s dirtiest court secrets. He also faces a brewing civil war that he is unprepared to fight. After months alone amid a swirl of gossip and political machinations, the sudden reappearance of his old lover, Sena, is a welcome bit of relief. But Sena has her own legacy to claim: she has been trained from birth by the Shradnae witchocracy—adept in espionage and the art of magical equations writ in blood—and she has been sent to spy on the High King.
Yet there are magics that demand a higher price than blood. Sena secretly plots to unlock the Cisrym Ta, an arcane text whose pages contain the power to destroy worlds. The key to opening the book lies in Caliph’s veins, forcing Sena to decide if her obsession for power is greater than her love for Caliph.
Meanwhile, a fleet of airships creeps ever closer to Isca. As the final battle in a devastating civil war looms and the last page of the Cisrym Ta waits to be read, Caliph and Sena must face the deadly consequences of their decisions. And the blood of these conflicts will stain this and other worlds forever.
Click on the following link to purchase this book: The Last Page
The Last Page is a book I kept putting off reading. Then Tor sent me the other book in that series, The Black Bottle, and I figured it was time to start reading the series I kept putting off. I didn’t put off reading The Last Page for any real reason. I just never seemed to get around to it. So this was the push I needed, and I’m glad I got it.
The Last Page is a little steampunk and a lot of epic fantasy complete with witches, kingdoms, and trains. Glen Cook described this novel as “science fantasy” and that’s really an accurate description, as it seems to blend two very different genres almost seamlessly. If you are one of those speculative fiction readers who is constantly looking for something new and different, The Last Page will probably fit your bill based on the worldbuilding alone.
The Last Page opens up with Caliph Howl, a young student at a university who is called away to be the king of Isca, a position he really doesn’t want. Caliph meets Sena, another student who also has a unique story and the two quickly form a bond. Now, it should be noted that part of this book is a love story of sorts, and that’s pretty much expected. However, despite the romance in the plot, Huso really does a good job at downplaying it a bit. There are other factors that impact this relationship. Besides that, Huso keeps the relationship’s development and evolution over the progress of the novel very natural and believable.
In some ways, Caliph Howl reminds me a little bit of Jorg in Prince of Thorns, only without all of the madness. Caliph is an incredibly intelligent character who is thrust into a role he doesn’t want. He deals with this masterfully, by making mistakes but learning from them. He’s proud and rather sure of himself in many ways, but Huso also shows the character’s more fragile moments while he deals with issues weightier than he is prepared to deal with.
Sena, on the other hand, took some time for me to warm up to. She’s a bit of a mystery and part of this is due to the language that Huso uses frequently in her sections (also used frequently elsewhere, but I seemed to struggle with her language more than the others). Huso created a vibrant and wonderful world, and along with that he created very unique languages, some of which require footnotes to understand what the words mean. While this is fine, I felt that it did impact how I related to Sena especially, as I frequently had to look at footnotes to understand portions of her activities.
The invented languages that Huso uses are wonderful and add a real unique flavor to the world as a whole, but it can also be incredibly frustrating. There were words whose meanings I never figured out thoughout the book, and I found myself frustrated with having to look at footnotes frequently. On the one hand, Huso is a genius worldbuilder and his languages really underscore that. On the other, I kept wondering when inventive ends and annoyance beings.
It should also be noted that, on occasion, Huso can dip into quite a bit of detail dealing with machines and things of that nature. While fans of K.J. Parker will probably be used to this and rather unfazed by it, other readers might find the extensive detail a bit much.
Despite the issues with language and excessive details with machinery and inventions, The Last Page was a real page-turner, which made me wonder why I put off reading it so long. It’s filled with complex politics, a bit of a mystery, some war, and some romance thrown in for good measure. However, aside from all of that, where The Last Page really shines is the characters, and the marvelous way Huso develops and builds them with added complexity along with the plot. The Last Page is sure to please.