Book Review: Last First Snow

Last First Snow by Max Gladstone, Craft Sequence #4


Forty years after the God Wars, Dresediel Lex bears the scars of liberation—especially in the Skittersill, a poor district still bound by the fallen gods' decaying edicts. As long as the gods' wards last, they strangle development; when they fail, demons will be loosed upon the city. The King in Red hires Elayne Kevarian of the Craft firm Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao to fix the wards, but the Skittersill's people have their own ideas. A protest rises against Elayne's work, led by Temoc, a warrior-priest turned community organizer who wants to build a peaceful future for his city, his wife, and his young son.

As Elayne drags Temoc and the King in Red to the bargaining table, old wounds reopen, old gods stir in their graves, civil blood breaks to new mutiny, and profiteers circle in the desert sky. Elayne and Temoc must fight conspiracy, dark magic, and their own demons to save the peace—or failing that, to save as many people as they can.
 


And so we have come to the first book in the Craft Sequence. Yes chronologically not in publication order. In a post last year Max Gladstone made an apology not to have published the books in chronological order. But you know when I started reading Last First Snow several things that were told in the earlier book made much more sense, this is precisely the mosaic that he was talking about. Each book introduced something new but also with each book you learned more about the others, not making it a linear journey. I do think that with writing the books in the mosaic order that a much bigger world has been created, it gives a much better feeling of them being connected. Yes, you can read every book as a standalone, but frankly, why would you?

Last First Snow picks up before the the story of Two Serpents Rise and thus is the first book in the series. The story takes place about forty years of the God's Wars in the city of Dresediel Lex. What was once a teaming city had now been left in ruines for certain districts. Skittersill being the most prominent one. In the Gods War, Kopil the Red King managed to beat the Gods and managed to gain control of Dresediel Lex, but now order and of course prestige had be rebuild and Kopil hires an lawyer, Elayne, from the firm Kelethres, Albrecht and Ao to assist in this manner. But only if it were all that simple. Not soon after the arrival of Elayne one priest from the Skittersill regain starts to protest and quickly gains followers. Temoc, the priest in question and the other inhabitants of Skittersill like it just the way it is and don't fancy the pop up of high end stores and other improvement and thus the road of Kopil is crossed and the necessary actions have to be taken. Therefor Elayne is also most suited, being a lawyer and all and thus the three, Temoc, Elayne and Kopil soon find themselves around the bargaining table to make some kind of agreement. Even despite the differences that the two factions have, Temoc and Kopil, in the end it does come to a solid agreement that both parties can find themselves all up until the moment that an assassin pops up and causes irreparable damage. Guess what, the war is back, bigger then ever and only one party can survive. 

If you have been reading the book in the publication order as I have a few names might sound familiar those of Temoc and Elayne, they both featured in Two Serpents Rise and Three Parts Dead respectively. It should be noted that if you are that familiar you also know that Temoc had a son called Caled and he does so feature in this book as well. Looking character wise I have to say that Max Gladstone really plotted out the story well. Above I mentioned that the mosaic makes sense and it truly comes to show in the characters. We know how they are in the earlier or actually later books, and here you are introduced to again newer versions. This only further increases the character background of many of them. For me personally I really liked reading about Temoc. In Two Serpents Rise we were introduced to him as being a terrorist and last of the Eagle Knight. In Last First Snow, we see him as a passionate priest and father and husband being torn between being there for his family and fighting for his rights and that of other. The same counts for Elayne. Here you  see a more compassionate Elayne that even shows some emotions.  

Next to these two characters Kopil is also one to stand out. I loved his character, even though he fights full force against Temoc. Kopil, the King in Red, Red King Consolidated, is a dangerous force to be reckoned with, he is quite suicidal and wont stop at anyone no matter how steep the cost. Again it was great to see and think about what Kopil really is, having beaten the gods and not ruling as the singular force, he isn't afraid to show it of and forcefully submit people to him. You don't want to cross him. 

Last First Snow is a terrific addition to the growing Craft Sequence. On it's own it can be read as a standalone but trust me you will miss out on a lot. The book really completes the Craft Sequence and takes it those extra leaps further. At the heart of the story the premise might sound like a small dispute but leave it to Max Gladstone to build a full spectacle story around it. Focusing on the younger version of some characters that we met before only further helps to let the story take more root. Max Gladstone is an author that is on my must read list. Terrific stuff what he manages to write. 

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