This book is a lavish concoction involving hit-men, gangsters and professional gamblers. It's also a book populated by the Fisher King, Isis Osiris, and a cast of extra's lifted straight out of a Tarot deck (literally). After reading this book my world was a richer place. Suddenly, the world is a place of wonder and danger, people are not merely themselves but archetypes also - represented by some pagan id, or by a card from a 'normal' deck of cards. There's also guns, possession and car chases. I was truly stunned by this book, which I read purely by accident, having never heard of the author - I now freely recommend to anyone willing to listen.
In style, tone and some substance, this book feels very similar to Stephen King's The Stand. That's a compliment! There are massive differences, not least that Last Call is set in a world which hasn't quite gone post-apocalyptic but if you enjoyed The Stand then you should shuffle this one to the top of your reading list. Last Call is an intricate, well plotted, slightly baffling supernatural mix of myth and modernism, set in Las Vegas at a pivotal time. The Old King needs to take a new set of bodies to survive and all the action happens through card games. His son is one of his targets, but his son could also be the only real threat to the Old King's supremacy. The resulting battle is played out in casinos and bars, while the hero's life disintegrates around him as the dark lords of drink and death tug at his coat-tails.
If you enjoy Neil Gaiman's Sandman stories of gods walking in the modern world, or enjoy the idea that all the characters are avatars from a deck of cards, or are captivated by the idea that the tarot may be true, then this book will grab you from the get-go. The characters are compelling and it's very well written. I didn't understand all of the references or most of the poker play, which made some segments of it hard to understand but that didn't detract too much overall. Some scenes are genuinely chilling, and some of the characters utterly repugnant. Like many 'quest' novels there is a fair bit of running around in circles but it builds to a very satisfying resolution. And you never quite know who is going to make it to the end of the final chapter in one piece... Thrilling. 8/10
Highly enjoyable. Retired gambler Scott Crane once played in a high stakes game of "Assumption", and thought he came away a winner...now 21 yrs on he realises that in fact he was not. Now with the help of his stepfather & next door neighbour he must go to Vegas to finish the game for good. It is not money up for grabs however, but a race to see who will become the next Fisher King, a role previously held by gangster Bugsy Seigel, and most recently Scott Crane's real blood father. The plot is very cleverly pieced together, and it reads almost like a road trip to Vegas at times, with mythical elements woven in. As more and more characters are introduced in the race to see who will succeed in becoming the next Fisher King, the book hurtles along towards a very satisfying climax. The first part in the Fisher King trilogy, I will definitely be searching out he next two chapters. Great stuff.
A more typical Powers heavy-occult book than the much lighter 'Three Days to Never', this book revolves around a fusion of the Fisher King myth and those parts of the occult powers of the Tarot deck that leak into the awareness of high-stakes professional poker players in the American west. The book opens with the incumbent King trying to take possession of his natural son Scott's body. He escapes, is adopted by a professional gambler and learns card-craft, and falls into a high stakes game with his father where he loses his soul. The book is set another 20 years on, when the possession is almost ripe, and Scott stands to lose himself completely unless he can fight back.
This reads well, although can seem a little long-winded in stretches, doesn't let the pace of gradually building tension towards the final struggle die off. All the minor characters clutter the pace a little, and there's a sense of many minor plot resolutions along the way. Recommended for any Powers fans.
Despite being quite lengthy I felt that this was a fast paced and fun read. Powers really is an inventive author. There are enough great scenes, characters and set pieces to fill up at least five books.
The background detail is very richly textured. It really does draw you in. It is very cleverly done. The exposition is slickly done as well.
Most of the characters are very well described and well drawn. They are very varied and everyone's actions and behaviours do seem to be plausible.
The storyline is very compelling and I really did feel immersed in the story
I would really recommend this. It works as SF/Fantasy and as a thriller.