This comes from O.P. in Australia, originally posted on my “Playground Player” chess forum on http://www.chessgames.com . I have his permission to post it here. I have edited it slightly, only because it’s so long. Here goes:
I’ve finished “The Last Banquet” and found this fourth installment to be a most enjoyable read, just as I did the first three!… You continue to come up with fascinating new characters and the further development of your existing characters from the previous books is ingenious.
The obsession of Lord Reesh with the past Empire is an intriguing sub-theme throughout the series.
“But to be free, we must have power. Power to feed ourselves, regardless of the vagaries of rain and drought and frost. Power to go where we wish to go, when we please, regardless of how far away the destination, regardless of the weather. Power to channel human labor, and direct it. The men of the Empire had such power. So must we.”
I wonder to what extent the old Empire, and its demise, is a commentary on our own society.
Orth is an interesting counter-point.
“Folly, Orth thought. You collect bits of rubbish from the ruins of the Empire and treat it like fine jewels, and you delude yourself. If the men of that age were so great, why is there nothing left of their greatness but useless pieces of trash? Why did they perish? You say they flew through the air, and sailed the seas, and spoke to one another over great distances as if they sat across a table from each other–but did any of that save them? Where are they now, First Prester? Why should we try to emulate a civilization that has utterly died out?”
Orth develops into a compelling character. He is pathetic and cowardly, yet retains a residue of conscience, which only emerges when driven by his fear of “the dark angel” with the slaughter weapon. His reaction to the human sacrifice, in contrast to the cynicism of Lord Reesh, is particularly stark.
Your treatment of the various animals throughout the series is particularly heart-warming. Cavall is so reliable and the addition of Angel was a nice touch for Helki, who preferred “the company of hawk and hound”…
Wytt’s importance in this book, as in the first three, cannot be overstated. The little hairy fellow becomes more captivating with each book.
“Wytt leaped out of her arms and chattered loudly. He snatched up his little sharp stick and brandished it over his head and started dancing all around…He made a squeaking noise that was Omah-laughter.”
You really do bring him to life with your remarkable writing.
The finale of this book, as with all of them, is very dramatic! Of course I won’t give anything away, but Chillith’s last stand before the Thunder King, “You are delivered into judgment!” was spine-chilling!
There’s more, but O.P. says he’ll post the whole thing on The Last Banquet amazon.com page. There’s a lot of praise here that is very gratifying to me–but I’ve posted this not to blow my own horn, but in hopes that some of you out there, after reading the review, will want to read the book.