The trilogy that began with The Emperor's Blades and continued in The Providence of Fire reaches its epic conclusion as war engulfs the Annurian Empire in Brian Staveley's The Last Mortal Bond
The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; leaches, solitary beings who draw power from the natural world to fuel their extraordinary abilities, maneuver on all sides to affect the outcome of the war; and capricious gods walk the earth in human guise with agendas of their own.
But the three imperial siblings at the heart of it all - Valyn, Adare, and Kaden - come to understand that even if they survive the holocaust unleashed on their world, there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.
©2016 Brian Staveley (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
If you loved the first two (I did) just be prepared for disappointment if you think it will compare.
Vance is great. Switches between male and female are very distinct and well acted.
In all seriousness I was kind of rooting for the destruction of mankind by the end.
Likes to listen while doing chores; likes to write reviews while he should be doing chores.
If you've read the Providence of Fire (book 2 in this series) you're probably wondering whether you should throw a good credit after bad. I managed to overcome my revulsion for the last book and listen all the way through this one. It is not as bad as the last book; I would venture to say that it rises as far as "kind of okay."
I want to give Staveley some credit. The underlying story arc is pretty cool. There is some worthy intrigue. He has built some artifacts into this world that are really interesting particularly the Kettral soldiers and the Skullsworn. There is a hint of some good world building here.
From the last book to this one, Staveley has improved on his male characters. They're no longer crashing around incoherently doing things that don't make sense, even to them. In fact, he even does some really cool things with a few of them (which would take spoilers to explain).
His female characters are half-cooked. They are more like caricatures. Most of them are one dimensional. He makes some silly decisions when he tries to flesh them out. But worst of all is Adare. She doesn't make sense as a person. Staveley uses her to increase the drama artificially. She basically walks into each scene and does something really dramatic that screws everything up for other people to fix. Her motivations are all over the place. It is so prevalent that she bends the entire book around her idiotic misadventures. This makes is significantly less enjoyable.
Vance continues to give strong narration. I took points off as some of his accents are bleeding together.
characters unbelievable decisions a crutch for storyteller. Cool concepts, unforgivable leadership. incredible departure from character identity. Just when you think that you know what a character is all about, they make the worst decision due to the worst conclusions rationale has to offer.
"Oh, you plot revenge against me for disgrace of your family name? Nevermind that for now, have my baby."
The sacrifices made by noble characters are nullified by the results of the leadership's breathtaking errors in deduction.
A trilogy. Say it in three. Done.
Superb narration. The series began well, but I didn't enjoy book 3 very much, even though some scenes are wonderful, especially those involving the kettrals (the birds and the humans). Loved the scenes on the old training islands, and felt for the decisions Gwenna had to make.
Writing style: The author writes beautifully, but he includes far too much internal rumination and reflection for my taste. Thoughts slows the pace, especially when listening to audiobook (no matter how superb the narration). Some of the thoughts felt like short speeches about life, emotions, death, etc., expressed in an almost lyrical language.
Plot: Not complex. I liked the premise of the beleaguered emperor saving his best three blades for last, siblings trained — each one differently — to outwit the deadly foe on a different plane. Also I was greatly intrigued by the ancient Csestriim. I thought of "Battlestar Galactica" with the cold brilliant Cylons trying to annihilate the emotional humans. But I don't like plots that rely too much on the superhuman powers of maniacal mages and insane gods (we never learned how Ciena got into Triste). I didn't care for the exceedingly OTT grim-dark, grisly, gruesome, and depressing tone that consumed this book, with slaughter, mutilation, and masochistic sex.
Characterization: Characterization is a plus, as we see the "blades" develop across the trilogy. I followed Kaden with interest. His character allowed for some clever ideas about zen philosophy. I enjoyed the scenes in Rassambur and around the gates. I didn't much care for Adare, although she grew on me. I did like her councilor, Nira, but she could have contributed more. As for Valyn...hmmm. He's the one who truly caught my heart strings. I wanted the best for him but...
General Ran il Tornja the Csestriim (aka Tarn'is) made for a clever villain. I wondered if he was also known as Sos, in the prologue? Belendin was flat-out evil with no texture, similar to Long Fist and Meshkent (although some substance came from the god of pain).
The book ends well. The last chapters are vivid, heartbreaking, and suspenseful, followed by a promising epilogue set about a year in the future. I would have also liked to read more about the future of the Kettrals, especially Gwenna, Tallal, Anneck, Quick Jak, The Dawn King, Flea, etc.
struggle to finish, main female character is the worst and an insult to women. super anti-climactic for major moments
I, having enjoyed the first two books, found myself just waiting for this one to be over. Overburdened with cliches and miserable whining characters, The Last Mortal Bond was a predictable and disappointing. The story constantly involves decisions were characters have to choose between factors of their own life and the destruction of the entire human race, and for some reason the reader is expected to feel tension as if the world actually might end. Its understandable that some people have trouble, say killing someone they love to save the world, but by the fifth time experiencing the dilemma its just tiring. Almost all of the main characters have the exact same grim, beaten down, attitude, continually throwing themselves into suicidal situations because deep down they all seem to want to die. And, as with every martyr cliche, each character spends half their time trying to die amidst their own self loathing, while spending the other half of their time demanding that everyone else stay back, where its safe. Every single action of the book is laden with internal monologues as every character contemplates their current situation from the same uniform state of depression and with the same painfully poetic sentiments of a try-hard coffee shop artist. It might be understandable for one or two characters to think like this but not all of them. If Staveley thought that Kaden's moments of distanced and disinterested reflection would help break up the monotony he was quite wrong. Its almost as if the monk-trained character realized what a bore everyone was being and decided to simply check-out. If Gwenna had not been around, I'm not positive I would have finished the book. Of course, she is guilty of many of the same things but she acted more like a human than any of the others. Obviously, most people need to read the book to get some closure on the story, just don't be surprised if you find yourself rooting for bad guy, or anyone else that will make these bleeding hearts actually bleed.
Yes, the narrator - Simon Vance - is exceptional with a great speaking voice and a good range of voices for the cast of characters and just the right emotional touch, Mr. Vance makes the book come alive.
The imperial brothers, Valyn and Kaden, were both heroic in their struggles to overcome a never ending series of nearly insurmountable obstacles, while the snotty know-it-all pampered little bitchy sister, Adare, foolishly undermines every bit of their progress made at such great cost, while she continually pats herself on the back from her cushy throne for being the only one who truly cares while moaning about how difficult her life is.
I kept hoping for the brothers to finally triumph against the overwhelming odds, but would have been equally satisfied if the sister had been stripped naked, shaved and paraded through the streets of Kings Landing, while the town folk threw dung at her... oops, wrong book. I despised Adare through the entire trilogy, more than any other character in the book including the villains, yet she still managed to come up with all of the prizes at the end. The writing, the story and the action were all compelling, but the conclusion left me frustrated and unsatisfied.
The first 2 books were great, but I feel the writer really lost his direction and characters in this book. All 3 of the main characters become the worse version of themselves in this book, with one never coming back to the character they were, one come back but in a nonsensical way, and one just kind of not making sense the whole book. Not sure what happened, but this trilogy needs a different ending.
I think there were a lot of things missing rom this story's conclusion and did not bring closure or things that happened in previous books had no hearing in the conclusion. *spoilers ahead*
How did the obviate work when Meshkent said they weren't high enough?
What was the point of Kaden's republic and those politicians? Were they solely there to show that Kaden couldn't rule?
Why tell us about Gwenna's love for Vaelen if nothing came of it? I also thought Balandin's death should have been done by Valen and more...dramatic, given Harlin's death. It just seemed to be over so quickly and without any real sense of justice. I would have liked to see Valen lead his wing, too. After learning from the Flea that he should lead the wing he has and not the wing he wanted, that information never became useful. And what happened in the end to Pierre?
It's really a shame because I liked a lot of hints about this book and this series. But in the end, the finale made a lot of the subplots and characters superfluous.
This book was captivating as it had turns on top of turns. I couldn't see the end until I was almost at the end which is what I liked. I do wised that a bit more relationship was described between the Flea and Valyn, their was more than enough scenes for it to happen, but it was still great. Both had their own darkness, which to me builds a character and make things more realistic. I could see the my own version of the Flea and Valyn because of the descriptions shaved head and scared eyes. I would have to say this is as good as Game Of Throne, the idea of killing people off really hurts, but it happens in reality . Mortality whenever it's confronted even in a book hurts and that's how I know it was good.
"Never reached the excitement of the first book"
I thought, like many trilogies that the 2nd book would be the"filler", but the feeling I had about this was that it was mainly filler as well.
Although beautifully written at points with fantastic description of character and scenery, it lacked the snappy, pacey plot that made the first book so good
I love books involving magic. and I don't even mind some involvement of gods, but much like David Dalgleish's books about Ashur and Karak, it starts to lose something when gods become directly involved.
I re-listened to the first two books before listening to this one and what the second 2 lacked was the humour of the first one. There is a deliberate distinction in the 3 main protagonists in the writing style, language and pace of plot and it suits the first book. in the second, it loses this and by the third, the urgency of the first book is lost in a long, sprawling, convoluted plot
worth a credit but nothing like as good as the first of the trilogy
"Much less compelling than its predecessors"
Unfortunately the conclusion to what could have been this decade's best epic fantasy trilogy disappoints in almost every regard. Overlong and hugely repetitive it lacks the urgency and suspense that made the first two books so great and meanders along in an almost shockingly uninspired fashion. Would have needed a much better editor than it had. One can only hope that Mr. Staveley will rebound with his next series.
Trying my best to not put spoilers in.
The first book was good. The main two male characters were interesting. One a badass, the other a unpredictable. The female boring and felt very pointless. In general, a great storyline and told very well.
Then the second book brought the boring female character into herself. Helping the reader understand why she was in the first. Making the 'badass' brother annoying and the munk more intriguing.
And the third book finished the whole story amazingly. All three characters, plus a new one added too a forever growing story that became more and more intense. The author showed a skill few can.
"just doesn't work somehow"
The first 2 books in this series were fantastic but it's just lost its way with this final installment. hard to put my finger on what was wrong but the pacing and the drama just were not there.
A must read if you are into this type of stories. The narrator is superb, I so enjoyed it. The writer a genius. Thanks guys for making many of my travels to work so pleasant.
"Engaging story & narration"
Fantastic conclusion to the series, I've loved all of these books. The characters are flawed, relatable and at the same time do awesome things.
The story arc throughout the series is totally engaging and unpredictable.
If I had one criticism it's that Staveley has this brilliant cynical, deprecating voice, which is conveyed wonderfully by the narrator Vance, but so many of the characters speak with that voice that it can detract from its effectiveness.
Brilliant story and very well read - highly recommended. None of the books disappointed -
I'm just sad it came to an end!
"Truly epic. Great ending to an awesome story.
Loved every bit of it. Just sorry it had to end. Great performance, totally enraptured.
A fantastic finale to this fine trilogy.
Eight further words required to complete this review.
Thrilling Rich Tapestry
I would compare it to The Game of Thrones series because of the way the story focused on the three characters surrounding the throne. The story was wonderfully complicated and the character development and descriptive writing was really enjoyable.
I loved all the chapters about the Kestral who I found just captivating. My favourite scene was when Gwenna and her companions go back to their island to steal back the Kestral birds with a newly trained recruit. I had to play it twice! Riveting!
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