I enjoyed The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards immensely. It’s the sort of novel that draws you in right away with interesting concepts, an engaging world, and mysterious elements to the plot then keeps you engaged with excellent pacing and great character development. The story centres on Rune Saint John, last scion of the Sun Court, which was destroyed by unknown parties when Rune was a teenager. Rune is now a fixer-for-hire, one part mercenary and one part private eye.
From the first pages of The Last Sun we’re treated to some wonderful banter between Rune and his Companion (a bodyguard/advisor), Brand. In fact, the strong characterization of both Rune and Brand is one of the things that really make this novel shine. Other side characters, such as Max and Quinn, are also well-fleshed out and engaging. I particularly loved the fact that it felt like the characters actually learned and grew throughout the novel, not remaining static. This is particularly true on the emotional side. Of course, one of the things that help the characters to shine is the vivid setting. Edwards does an incredible job of making New Atlantis feel real. There is plenty of background information shared, but without pages of exposition, which some deep world building can fall into. The characters and setting both felt quite natural. The plot was also engaging, with plenty of mysteries for the reader to attempt to solve before the characters. There are sections of this story that feel like a detective novel, but in reality things are broader than that. There are investigative elements, but the characters are the driving force for much of the action, particularly in the first two thirds of the novel. The magic system also deserves heaps of praise. Edwards has given us some fun twists on magic - the scions that use magic must use sigils to store their spells. Storing a spell in a sigil requires the user to spend time in meditation. Each person’s meditation techniques reflect something about them and their personality. For instance, one character dances to charge sigils, another goes into a corner and makes deprecating comments to himself. It’s a neat system that creates some cool character moments. All of these elements combine seamlessly for the reader. We’re treated to a story that is at times intense, at times tender, at times emotional, at times funny, and always engaging.
In terms of weaknesses, there are some odd turns of phrase from time to time. Nothing egregious, but just small ways of saying things that seemed a little odd to me, and bumped me out of the story. Sexual assault also plays a role in the back-story of a character. In my opinion Edwards handles this very well and it isn’t used for cheap emotion, but rather to build an authentic character. The struggles that character has as a result are real and true to life without being stereotypical. Some readers may have difficulty with that element of the story, even so. Finally, while the plot was engaging and entertaining, it’s possible that the characters and setting outshone it and actually stole a bit of the drama from the plot. The parts of the novel that stood out to me were the character moments, rather than the moments when the plot was front and centre, though there are plenty of mysteries left to unravel.
A highly enjoyable read from K.D. Edwards, The Last Sun is sure to appeal to those who love wonderfully crafted characters against a backdrop of excellent world building. I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel.
Review by Calvin Park
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