Once, Atlantis was a fantastical realm of wonder and magic. But then it was discovered by the world of mortals, and there was a great war. The survivors fled, creating New Atlantis … but they brought all of the old House rivalries and jealousies with them, and created new ones to plague their children. …. Rune St. John is the last survivor of House Sun, heir to the Sun Throne. To put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, he and his bodyguard/Companion Brand do odd jobs for The Tower — usually involving explosions, fisticuffs, and narrow escapes with lots of property damage. This time, The Tower has sent them looking for Addam of House Judgement. But there is much, much more to Addam’s disappearance than anyone realizes, and it is not long before Rune and Brand are caught up in a conspiracy to remake New Atlantis with the power of the undead ….
I stumbled across The Last Sun when a friend posted a meme on FaceBook about LGBTQIA+-friendly fantasy novels. The cover of The Last Sun immediately caught my interest, and I downloaded the sample.
I didn’t even bother to finish the sample before I downloaded the entire book. And considering that I never purchase ebooks that are more than $7.99, that means this book really won me over.
I loved The Last Sun. The world-building is incredibly detailed. The city of New Atlantis, for example, is composed of buildings which the Atlanteans plucked and teleported from all over the world; as such, it is a mis-mash of styles, eras, and materials. The social hierarchy of the new city is modeled after that of the old world; that is, the most important and powerful Houses are named for the Major Arcana of the Tarot, with the leader of each House wielding magic modeled after that archetype. Rune, as the Sun Throne (even though he has not officially claimed the title) is light and fire and heat. His favorite weapon is a wrist guard that can transform into a sword hilt — and from there, any sword that he can imagine, but with fire properties.
The character building and the relationships between the characters is wonderful. The bromance (for lack of a better word) between Rune and Brand is fantastic and worth the price of purchase alone. Their devotion to one another is absolute, but it is also platonic; they are not lovers and never have been; but they love and understand one another in ways that no one else can. I’ll be curious to see how Rune’s (very likely) romance with Addam effects his relationship with Brand, and visa versa.
The secondary characters are just as interesting. The Tower, for example, is the spy master, torturer, and executioner for the Arcanum. The public remains blissfully in the dark about everything that he has to do to keep them all safe. He is utterly ruthless, but not without heart; he understands what he is asking others to do, and will never ask anyone to do anything that he would not do himself. That makes his relationship with Rune and Brand … complicated.
In writing this review, and giving The Last Sun such a firmly positive review, only one thing gave me pause: that was the issue of sexual assault. Rune was spared during the initial attack that killed his family. He was kept prisoner and raped, repeatedly; he was finally saved by Brand, but most of his assailants escaped. While the assault is never explicitly shown, it is referenced often (it was the defining event of Rune’s life, after all) and Rune is nearly forced to relive it by an illusion spell once. When he finally identifies one of his assailants, the man brags about the attack. So, the sexual violence is not gratuitous; it serves the needs of the story, but may still be too much for some readers.
The Last Sun is the first book in a terrific new urban fantasy/paranormal romance/political thriller series. The second book, The Hanged Man, was released in December 2019. I can’t wait to read it. Highly recommended to fans of Ilona Andrews, KJ Charles, Rebecca Chastain, Rhys Ford, TJ Klune, and the Charmed and Dangerous anthology.
[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of Eternal Haunted Summer.]