A fast-paced, richly imagined, gritty tale of epic proportions…
In Hladky’s fourth installment of The Book of Ruin series, Roge Callan pulls together a small crew of misfits and travels from Mitteleuropa to Russia to the Middle Kingdom to locate the missing Widow Witches and their sentient Yetis. Trying to escape his family’s troubled past, Roge has changed his name hoping to start afresh. Working as a sergeant under a banished RangerKnight, Roge joins the Skinweavers, his former enemies, who are seeking help to find a path out of their barbaric tribal past. When the benevolent Widow Witches and their sentient Yetis go missing, Roge is summoned to find and rescue them. Accompanied by Jacques and a misfit group of allies, Roge boards the hobbled and sabotaged swiftship called the Drunken Stork and begins his mission, unaware his path is full of impossible dangers. Hladky piles on the challenges for this fourth volume—Roge and his crew need to prepare themselves to face off deadly ambushers and vicious chimeric predators as they begin their mission; Emperor Zhong Ren must learn the meaning of his diviner’s mysterious predictions among the dirty politics and backstabbing—and manages to bring all to a truly satisfying ending. The high stakes and the group’s dangerous journey keep the story moving at a swift pace. Hladky’s characters are admirable as ever as they learn to work as a team. Roge, Jacques, Father Navid, Kath, and Benny make a marvelous team. The troubled but more mature version of Roge that readers come across in this installment is endearing. His age and wisdom are on proud display as he battles both external forces, such as a deadly plague, vicious chimeric predators, and massive storms, and his own inner turmoil as the circumstances put him in front of his estranged father once again. Over the course of the novel, Hladky offers prose that’s measured and assured, and his action-packed narrative enhances the story’s enjoyable mix of court intrigue, dirty politics, well-guarded secrets, and backstabbing. Although the story echoes many other dystopian tales (including the almost middle-earth-ish settings), Hladky manages to carve out new territory for himself, constructing a story that is able to stand on its own. His knack for blending the fast-paced lingo of paramilitary thrillers with the intriguing worldbuilding of sci-fi and fantasy keeps the pages flying. Throw in the sharply drawn characters, atmospheric setting, and the roller-coaster pacing, and you’ve got a winner. Readers will be enthralled.
The Last Skinweaver
(The Book of Ruin 4)
Middle River Press
Pub date January 1, 2022
Price $12.99 (USD) Paperback, $3.99 Kindle edition