1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2013
Last year I read the first two books in the Low Town trilogy, The Straight Razor Cure and Tomorrow The Killing, in quick succession and both books made it into my favourites for 2012, so I had high expectations for She Who Waits. And Polansky not only managed to equal those expectations, he blew them right out of the water. In fact, She Who Waits was so good, it's going to take a lot to not just gush and fan-girl all over it for the entire review. Bear with me; I'll try to actually make sense as well.
It's been three years since Tomorrow the Killing when the story starts and Warden hasn't really turned his life around. He's clean, but he's still dealing and still the kingpin of Low Town. Wren has grown and Adeline and Adolphus are the same as always-solid and dependable. Rigun, however, is falling apart. Under the reign of a new king and with the Old Man slowly losing his grip on Black House the city poised on the brink of revolution under the leadership of the Sons of Śakra, also known as the Steps, a new religious sect that has sprung up. To add some more inflammatory material to this mix, there is also a new drug that has surfaced in the city, a drug they call red fever. One of the side effects of this drug is that some people go into a violent psychosis and become murderous. To investigate the origin of this new drug, the Steps bring in Warden, who is then roped back in by the Black House to spy on the Steps. This sets the stage for a breathtakingly paced narrative.
Of the three books this one is the darkest. Polansky creates a world where there is a clear distinction between good and evil, though his characters are many shades of grey. However, unlike as is often the case, Warden never seems to apologise for being so dark a grey it's hard to distinguish it from black. He knows he's a bad man and he doesn't pretend otherwise. Astonishingly, he's still a sympathetic protagonist, despite this fact. Exactly how Polansky pulls this off I don't know, but pull it off he does. One of the things I think helps in this regard is that Warden knows exactly who and what he is, is unapologetic about it, yet at the same time regrets that his life has turned out this way. I think the moment he shows Wren what his business is really about and Wren well and truly realises the man Warden is, it kind of breaks Warden's heart. He's no longer Wren's hero, which Warden thinks is all to the good, but at the same time feels as a loss, which in turn made me feel so sad for him.
In She Who Waits there is betrayal round every corner, people betraying Warden, Warden betraying others and everyone double-crossing everyone else. This means the reader has to pay close attention to remember where allegiances lie at any moment and that Polansky presents the reader with some major twists and surprises. As with the previous book we get a story arc from the past told through flash back chapters. I really enjoyed this storyline featuring Albertine quite enlightening, as we finally get the answer to why he was kicked out of the Black House and why Crowley hates him so very much. I also really, really liked the resolution of Albertine's story arc and what she meant to Warden.
She Who Waits has a stunning, stunning ending which wraps up the trilogy in a wonderful way. I think it's the best ending of a series I've read in ages. I've adored Warden, Low Town and this trilogy fiercely and She Who Waits has cemented it as one of the best series published in the last couple of years. Readers already invested in this series will need no encouragement, but if you haven't read these books and if you don't mind dark, morally grey, and gritty, then you need to read these books, because you're missing out in a major way if you don't. Daniel Polansky has firmly established himself as one of my must-read authors and I can't wait to see where he takes us next.
This book was provided for review by the publisher.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2013
I'm a huge fan of the Low Town series and was eagerly anticipating this new release and I'm very pleased to say that 'She Who Waits' doesn't dissapoint in any way.
All Wardens chickens are coming home to roost at once and this time it's becoming more and more difficult for him to see a way out. Low Town as a place once again comes alive and gives a wholly convincing backdrop to the story which along with a varied and engaging cast really pushes the story along.
The sarcastic and caustic tone is once again front and centre with the hint of violence underlining every exchange, and when it does erupt it is always hard hitting.
It's not for the faint hearted but the ending is stunning and even though you may expect what's coming I was completely floored by the execution. Overall I can't emphasise enough what a brilliant addition to a brilliant series this is.
on 7 November 2013
'She Who Waits' is the third instalment in Daniel Polansky's Low Town series, and seemingly rounds off this particular trilogy about the life of Warden. It's a thrilling and thoroughly enjoyable read that takes all the elements we've come to love about the series - grimy settings, disreputable characters, casual vice, fascinating flashbacks and wicked schemes - and multiplies them by ten to create a convoluted but fast-paced plot leading to an explosive and heart-stopping conclusion.
As with the author's previous novels ('The Straight Razor Cure' and 'Tomorrow the Killing') the story follows the character of Warden, a disgraced former soldier and Black House operative who is now a drug dealer. Not only does he practically run Low Town, but he also secretly manoeuvres critical events within politics, not to his own advantage, but to the disadvantage of those who have previously caused him harm. Most of the characters he encounters are despicable in varying ways, their negative attributes brilliantly exaggerated to the point of grotesqueness. Low Town and its denizens are ugly, inside and out, and this makes those rare moments of goodness or peace experienced by Warden all the more striking.
One thing I will point out is that there's not really that much emphasis on Albertine, the woman who betrayed him years ago and is therefore partly responsible for the way his life has turned out since. However, I don't think the novel suffers from this, since the focus of the series has always been on Warden's decisions in the present rather than his dwelling on the past; and, of course, the title is clever, referring not just to his lost love but to the goddess of death, commonly known as `She who Waits Behind All Things'. And that's a pretty apt title, since the novel's events are set against the usual Low Town backdrop of frequent violence and murder.
In a nutshell: the dialogue is gritty and facetious, the protagonists are tough and easy to root for, the plot is clever and brilliantly executed, and the final awesome culmination of events leaves us feeling wretched yet satisfied. Just brilliant.
on 24 October 2014
As this trilogy is told in the first person singular, it's technically impossible for the Warden to be the narrator of this excellent series given the way it ends.
Truth is, I didn't want it to end. Low Town isn't a place I'd care to visit, but reading about it and it's unsavory denizens is fascinating. The author has built a world of vivid depth, so much so you can almost smell it!
The flawed, amoral character of the main protagonist was beautifully rendered. Ideally suited to the mean streets he walks every day.
Although this is a Fantasy series, it would easily appeal to fans of noir thrillers, detective and spy stories. War, historical fiction, etc. Great crossover potential without compromising its core identity.
Daniel Polanski must have some great ideas up his sleeve if he can walk away from Low Town and She Who Waits Behind All Things. I look forward to reading them.
Daniel is one of those authors who exploded onto the scene a couple of years ago. His writing was fresh, it had great pace and when added to a writing style that really takes his fantasy world into a unique position all round generates a story that really keeps you glued.
Throw into this a great cast, cracking dialogue and of course an overall arc that keeps you guessing and to be honest I was more than a happy reader. Cracking.
on 25 December 2013
There is simply no other author out there who combines the complexity of plot over a few short days, the witty interchange between characters, the world building and atmosphere, to such a potent brilliant level.
I just cannot say enough superlatives about this book, the main protagonist, the world it is set in...I won't go on just to finish it is fabulous. If you like fantasy you simply have to read it.
on 7 May 2015
Picked up The Straight Razor Cure as it got my eye. Three days later I picked up the next two books. And a week later I was finished with Low Town but I have to go back. The Low Town series had me hooked from the start. A thriving world full of thievery, cunning, intrigue, secret police, corrupt officials. I could go on but all I have to say is pick it up you won't regret it for a second.
on 28 August 2014
Well I had been waiting a while for the last Low Town installment and I was not disappointed. We rejoin the Warden for more of what made the first and second books so enjoyable - jarring, menacing dialogues, cynical monologues, dark humor an of course a high body count. The first couple of chapters were slow and to be honest a bit dull, but soon picks up.