My rating: 5 of 5 stars
My first read of 2017 straddled the old and new year, which is pretty apt for a tale of the death of an old king and the ascension of a new one.
LAST CALL is a dazzling jewel of a book. Powers pulls out all of his vast array of literary tricks, and not for the first time drags his Jungian archetypes to center stage to show off for him.
In this one we get Fisher Kings, blasted lands, fools and knaves, queens and one eyed jacks, all vying for control of the Kingdom and the power that comes with the role of the new King in a plot centered around the casinos of Las Vegas and the surrounding area.
So there’s that, but there’s also an almost noir feel to the book, like Raymond Chandler filtered through the eyes of a burned out poker player ready to cash in his chips for the last time.
As ever with Powers there’s wonderful characterization, tremendous set pieces, wild flights of fancy, and lyrical flourishes of brilliance.
This one won the World Fantasy Award in 1993 and fully deserves every plaudit thrown at it. It hasn’t dated either – you can still feel the desperation and despair in those Vegas casinos, and still see the lost and fractured people chasing their places in the Kingdom.
The old King wants to be reborn in a new body at the start of a new cycle, and will stop at nothing to avoid slipping away into the waiting dark. But the throne comes at a price, one that many others are also willing to pay. There’s a game being played, a high stakes one, and Powers makes sure the tension is ratcheted up all the way to the final hand.
It’s a great, great novel, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone with a taste for dark tinged, modern Arthurian Fantasy.