A fascinating tale of magic, beings of immense power and their unique governing system, and even Atlantis, The Last Sun is K.D. Edwards’ debut novel with Prometheus Books, which promises an engrossing trilogy to follow a solid beginning. With a court system based on tarot and the Major Arcana, powerful magics, and mythical dangers around every corner, Edwards brings a new Atlantis to life just off the coast of Massachusetts, and pulls readers into a twisted missing-person investigation that is covering up much more sinister plots.
Rune Saint John is hired by Lord Tower to find Addam Saint Nicholas, the missing son of Lady Judgement, who is hidden somewhere in New Atlantis, a city raised after Atlantis fell in the war with humans. His search for Addam leads him and his Companion, Brand, to dangerous sites across the city and against violent enemies, revealing a deeper plot against Rune himself that Addam is only tangentially a part of. And when a strange, impossible creature finds Rune, there is little time left to track down the culprits and save the city from ruin.
The beginning heist felt like it was trying to tell a completely different story, but it eventually comes together because it seemed necessary to introduce one of the major characters, and leads into the larger investigation. Rune’s search for Addam doesn’t begin until chapter three, which is when the real story takes off. The plot that follows is intricate and well done, though it lacks some key exposition to explain certain background factors that affect the story.
The worldbuilding is consistently intriguing, drawing the reader deeper in with promises of a rich history and unique premise. The magic of New Atlantis relies on spells cast through sigils, expensive artifacts that are only possessed by the most powerful members of society. The form of combat that is a running theme throughout the novel also relies on these spells, with intricate descriptions of the magical effects that make up battles. I loved the mechanics of the battle magic and weapons, and each scene is a masterclass of fast-paced adventure. There’s also an interesting setup for sexuality in this universe—poly relationships are accepted, even the norm, and there is no taboo sexuality or identity. Rune himself is gay, and it’s never made out to be a huge deal (but there is some romance and a slightly steamy scenes).
However, Rune also has hefty trauma in his history, which leads me to this warning: Rune was raped as a young man, the same week his father was murdered, and there is at least one upsetting line that references the specific trauma.
Edwards gives mere glimpses of the background of New Atlantis. There are several mentions of the war that destroyed the original Atlantis, but it’s unclear just how that war was started, and why it had such devastating effects on the Atlanteans and their power. It feels like Edwards teases readers with the possibility of a prequel, which I would be happy to read. The original Atlantis and Rune’s family history is fascinating, even from just the barest tidbits that are dropped throughout the novel. But it also would have been easy to give readers a little more context, rather than dropping into a story that seems to be lacking an integral piece of its foundation.
That said—the world that we do see intimately through Rune’s eyes is almost overwhelming in its descriptions. The people in this work are as varied as their city, by species, race, orientation, and power. The magic is an enigma, the ruling class secretive and haughty. And this book is ultimately snarky and fun, lending brevity to a serious plot. The broad world of New Atlantis is unique and engrossing, and Rune and Brand are a pair that will last the ages, as long as they don’t get killed first. Rune is a flawed and powerful main character with a brilliant secondary cast, and his story is far from over. The Last Sun does a great job setting up several problems to be addressed in the sequels, and is a great beginning to a series that I hope does very well.
K. D. Edwards
Originally Published June 12