Finished on 1/8/2019
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Alternate Earth, Steampunk, Epic Fantasy, Craft Sequence
Previous books in the series reviewed: Three Parts Dead, Full Fathom Five
Highly Recommended City Planning Epic Fantasy
Some books are excellent because they make you feel joy. Some books are excellent because they make you feel despair. This novel is of the second category.
‘Last First Snow’ is the story of Temoc, the last living priest of the dead gods of the city of Dresediel Lex. Forty-odd years have passed since the God Wars wherein the gods died, during which time the lich king who killed them, the King in Red, has nearly consolidated control of Dresediel Lex. Only one thing stands between the King and him fully controlling the city: insurance companies.
Dresediel Lex’s ghettos cannot be insured because they are not magically protected. To magically protect the ghettos, the King needs the permission of the people who live there. The trouble is that the moment the King protects the ghettos and they become insured, housing prices in the ghettos will spike and the area will start becoming gentrified. The present inhabitants of the ghettos don’t want their community to become gentrified because increased housing prices will force them to move. Thus, the people of the district are engaging in an ‘Occupy Wall Street’ style sit-in protest, refusing to be moved until the lich king gives them concessions.
Temoc, the last of the old government regime, has become the figurehead of the movement despite his best efforts. All sorts of ‘undesirable elements’ have glommed onto the protest movement, from religious sorts who hate the King in Red to poor folks who have to work three jobs to make ends meet to actual criminals who want to undermine the government.
Plot: Love it. The notion of a High Fantasy story about gentrification and urban planning is just excellent. The author pulls it off too.
Character: Good to great. Temoc is caught between a rock and a hard place: he can either stand up and represent his people, putting his family in the King in Red’s line of fire, or he can hide away and betray the very gods he serves. Elayne is another returning character, and we see her in her younger and slightly more impressionable days where she’s still a little naive about the cruel world. And finally Kopal, the King in Red, gets to shine as well.
Pacing: This is a slow burner of a book, requiring the attention of the reader. This isn’t the sort of story which pulls you through from first to last, but instead a slow simmer from beginning to end.
Prose: The author has lost the sense of humor present in ‘Three Parts Dead,’ but has replaced it with an earnest voice strongly attesting to human (and nearly human) suffering.
I want the humor back! While this book’s dark tone would have been misserved with the abundance of humor stemming from the ridiculous and mundane world the Craft Sequence, I think if Elayne’s portion of the novel still contained some of the whimsy it would have lightened what is otherwise a very grim novel.
Net total, Highly Recommended. I think this is my favorite Craft Sequence novel. It’s not the most approachable of the novels, mind- 3PD is still an easy to understand murder mystery. However if you want to start reading this series, feel free to start here if you want a slightly heavier High Fantasy novel with strong characters and a strong plot.