She Who Waits

She Who Waits by Daniel Polansky, Low Town #3

Low Town: the worst ghetto in the worst city in the Thirteen Lands.

Good only for depravity and death. And Warden, long ago a respected agent in the formidable Black House, is now the most depraved Low Town denizen of them all.

As a younger man, Warden carried out more than his fair share of terrible deeds, and never as many as when he worked for the Black House. But Warden’s growing older, and the vultures are circling. Low Town is changing, faster than even he can control, and Warden knows that if he doesn’t get out soon, he may never get out at all.

But Warden must finally reckon with his terrible past if he can ever hope to escape it. A hospital full of lunatics, a conspiracy against the corrupt new king and a ghetto full of thieves and murderers stand between him and his slim hope for the future. And behind them all waits the one person whose betrayal Warden never expected. The one person who left him, broken and bitter, to become the man he is today.

The one woman he ever loved.

She who waits behind all things.

She Who Waits is the highly anticipated third book in the Low Town series written by Daniel Polansky. The Low Town series is new and interesting taking in a mystery and noir fantasy series. It all started in the more than sound debut The Straight Razor Cure that introduced us to the Warden, a person with a complicated and rich past, and his story continued in Tomorrow the Killing. The Low Town series so far has been a great pleasure to read, with using the Warden as the main protagonist, they automatically turn out to be cool. And on top of this Daniel Polansky has a way with showing on one hand the dark and gritty side of Low Town, but also shows a more light-hearted side with the humor and witty remarks hidden within several characters. So far in the series there have been a great many of events that have shaped the storyline but one overall element comes forward: is the Warden still tough enough to control Low Town or is his control slowly slipping away?

What I have come to know about the first two books is that Daniel Polansky doesn’t spare the reader one moment. I read a bit of a more light hearted story before She Who Waits and BAM! You are right thrown there in the dregs of Low Town, the dark and gritty feeling directly surrounding you. This is something that I have really come to enjoy in his books. And likewise the first two books you again follow the Warden in She Who Waits. His persona is just as deep and dark as the slums of Low Town. The Warden is a war veteran turned dealer and has an (in)famous reputation in and among Low Town. If you need something done he is the guy to go to. But also the Warden is on a higher level the singular person who tries to keep control on all the situations that arise in Low Town. There is the policing force know as The Black Hand and bit of helpers known as the hoax, but some can be easily bought to look the other way. What I have come to learn about the Warden, is well...  a lot but then again also a lot remain obscure and this is one part where the story of Low Town get its strength from. You learn so much about the Wardens past, that he has had quite a difficult time, and how he is getting by now but Daniel Polansky never reveals all. You keep wondering and guessing about certain why’s, if’s and how’s. On top of this the Warden’s personality is quite “diverse”, if he is on your bad side, the Warden is ruthless and unforgiving, but if he is on your good side he is your best ally. Daniel Polansky weaves this great aura surrounding the Warden that makes him a great main protagonist.

Besides the Warden there are many more interesting characters to which we were already introduced to in the first two books and that make a re-appearance in She Who Waits, for starters Wren. A young boy that the Warden took under his wings. Wren has something, a specific power, that keeps me on the edge of my seat. The Art. This the magic of Low Town. Each time I am reading about Wren I have my fingers crossed to just get that small glimpse of the Art. Daniel Polansky keeps this element so well hidden throughout the story, only showing brief glimpses, that you never know what is in store for you. However this time around we do see Wren being more grown up and confident and it is time for him so seek new advice, so it might, might just be that we will see a more pronounced scene with the Art soon. I have my fingers crossed. But back to Wren, when you first got to meet him he was a boyish boy and it seems that the tutelage of the Warden has really shaped him into a grown man and this is notable by the actions and sometimes bad decisions that he makes. Is Warden is a suitable role model? I have my guesses but he sure is as solid as a rock, and it seems that some traits are rubbing off on Wren... Now there is one interesting addition to the story that should really get the fans of this series fired up. An important woman out of the past of the Warden... This was one of the moments I was waiting on. All throughout the book you learn more and more of this person and what she had done to the Warden and this gave me on some levels an satisfied feeling but feels rather like an anticlimax (but I am saying this in a positive way!) since I know there must be more to this and that it isn’t the last part of what we have seen from her. Because even the Warden couldn’t pull through on this one occasion.

The storyline of She Who Waits is just a rich and dark and engaging as the first two. The stories so far in The Straight Razor Cure and Tomorrow the Killing do feel on one part self contained with each time putting the Warden into an investigation to find out what is happening on his turf, they do all have one thread connecting each other and gradually taking the story further. This time isn’t any different, but before hand the story doesn’t fall into some drag at all. Since Daniel Polansky has lain quite the foundation of the Low Town and surrounding areas in the first two books. In She Who Waits, Daniel Polansky now uses this foundation to really take his story and the whole series further. In the first two books it felt that the Warden was more giving the lowdown on Low Town and all that was happening, in She Who Waits, the emphasis is more on the characters and the storyline itself. Daniel Polanksy starts explaining a lot of things that we learned in the earlier books about The Black hand and the Wardens fall from grace and more over that the Warden is starting to lose control of Low Town and that there is only on course left for him and his friends. I was very pleased by this aspect, and really makes me eager to see what else Daniel Polansky will have in store for us in his next book.

Where Tomorrow the Killing already took the Low Town series further, She Who Waits is even more furtherering the series.It really comes to show that Daniel Polansky himself is letting his audience know: This is what I have in store for you, you will either like or not. He is becoming bold, daring and taking risks in his writing that are really paying off storywise. Letting people die. Showing more and more of the past and current events but then again raising a 10fold more questions. She Who Waits does leave you on a cliffhanger moment with the Warden, one of which I hadn’t imagined, with everything that the Warden embodies... this was totally unexpected. In a good way that is. What Daniel Polanksy proved in The Straight Razor Cure and Tomorrow the Killing is further emboldened by She Who Waits, if you aren’t reading his books, you are sorely missing out.   

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