The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards. ★★★★
TW: Sexual Assualt, Anorexia
I’m so so glad I listened to everyone telling me to read The Last Sun. It’s a stunningly imaginative urban fantasy novel with characters I came to care deeply about. The best comparison I can think of is Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence crossed with Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniel series, but gayer.
The city of New Atlantis is ruled by the courts — powerfully magical families, all named after a card in the Major Arcana. Rune Saint John is the last child of the Sun Court, which was destroyed in a devastating night twenty years ago. Rune and his companion/bodyguard Brand were the only survivors, and Rune still has no idea who was behind the destruction of his court and his assault. Now, he makes a living working odd jobs with Brand. Currently, he’s been hired by Lord Tower to find Adam, his missing godson and the son of Lady Justice. Whatever happened to Adam involves a magic strange and powerful, one not even Atlantians believe in…
What makes The Last Sun for me is the characters and their relationships with each other. I particularly love the strength of Rune and Brand’s platonic bond and how much they mean to each other. It’s probably my favorite relationship in the whole book, although I do like the other central relationships. As with Rune and Brand’s bond, this book brims with empathy and warmth. If I have one criticism of the characters in The Last Sun, it’s that I wish there were more women. Pretty much all the major characters are male, and I have no idea whether or not it passes the Bechdel Test, but my gut says not.
As you might guess from my comparison to Max Gladstone and Ilona Andrews, the world building is amazing. I love the idea of using the Major Arcana in this way, and I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t encountered another book doing it! The world feels like it has a past, present, and future, with the old city of Atlantis destroyed and New Atlantis now located off the coast of New England, jumbled together from abandon buildings taken from around the world by magic. K.D. Edwards focuses on the world-building that we need for the plot and characters, but there’s enough passing detail to make the world complex and lived-in. I can easily believe that we were seeing just a small part of a greater whole, and I can’t wait to see more in the sequel.
New Atlantis is largely without homophobia or biphobia, and multi-gender attraction is closer to the norm than heterosexuality. That said, Rune notes that a few court members have their own strange prejudices. Rune himself is gay, and I really loved reading such an excellent novel with a queer lead. I’m going to be recommending this one a lot in the future.
As you’ve probably gathered by now, I can’t wait to read the sequel to The Last Sun, The Hanged Man. Unfortunately, it’s release has been pushed back to September. That’s such a shame because I want to get my hands on it ASAP! I need more of the Tarot Sequence and Rune Saint John.