Anthony Huso is a new fantasy author. His official website can be found here.
His debut fantasy book, The Last Page, will be published in August 2010 by Tor Books.
Here's the official description of The Last Page:
A stunning new voice in fantasy
The city of Isca is set like a dark jewel in the crown of the Duchy of Stonehold. In this sprawling landscape, the monsters one sees are nothing compared to what's living in the city's sewers.
Twenty-three-year-old Caliph Howl is Stonehold's reluctant High King. Thrust onto the throne, Caliph has inherited Stonehold's dirtiest court secrets. He also faces a brewing civil war that he is unprepared to fight. After months alone amid a swirl of gossip and political machinations, the sudden reappearance of his old lover, Sena, is a welcome bit of relief. But Sena has her own legacy to claim: she has been trained from birth by the Shradnae witchocracy – adept in espionage and the art of magical equations writ in blood – and she has been sent to spy on the High King.
Yet there are magics that demand a higher price than blood. Sena secretly plots to unlock the Cisrym Ta, an arcane text whose pages contain the power to destroy worlds. The key to opening the book lies in Caliph's veins, forcing Sena to decide if her obsession for power is greater than her love for Caliph.
Meanwhile, a fleet of airships creeps ever closer to Isca. As the final battle in a devastating civil war looms and the last page of the Cisrym Ta waits to be read, Caliph and Sena must face the deadly consequences of their decisions. And the blood of these conflicts will stain this and other worlds forever.
A REVIEW OF ANTHONY HUSO'S THE LAST PAGE
Before I say anything about The Last Page, I'll say that it looks like the best debut fantasy books of 2010 come mostly from Tor Books: Blake Charlton's Spellwright is a fantastic traditional fantasy book, Ian Tregillis' Bitter Seeds is a fascinating alternate history book and now fantasy readers have a chance to read another fine and exciting book, Anthony Huso's The Last Page.
I'm glad that I had a chance to read the advance uncorrected proof of Anthony Huso's The Last Page, because this book is fantastic! When I finished reading this book, I said to myself: "Wow! What a book!".
I enjoyed reading Anthony Huso's The Last Page very much. It made a huge impression on me and I can recommend it to everybody who likes good adult fantasy. It's a delightfully steampunkish and sophisticated fantasy book, which grabs hold of you and won't let go until you've reached the final page.
Anthony Huso's prose is good and the story is amazingly addictive – once you start reading it, you won't stop until you've reached the last page. I read the whole book as soon as possible, because it was so good that I couldn't stop reading it (I had to find out how the story ends).
The Last Page feels surprisingly fresh and interesting when compared to many other debut books. Although this book contains several traditional fantasy and steampunk elements, it's an original and well written book, because Huso avoids all the typical clichés. Huso's tight and descriptive writing style is charming.
Glen Cook has said that The Last Page is "a first novel of unusual scope, power, and imagination" and David Drake has said that it's "an excellent story told in High Style". I totally agree with them, because Anthony Huso's debut fantasy book rises clearly above many other debut books.
Categorizing The Last Page is a bit difficult, because it contains several different kind of elements and it's quite dark. It isn't exactly high fantasy and it isn't steampunk either, so it's difficult to say what it is, but perhaps it's enough to say that it's perfect fantasy for adult readers.
Here's some information about the characters:
The main characters, Caliph and Sena, are interesting and believable characters. The other characters are also interesting.
The story begins when the main Caliph and Sena are students and become lovers. Later they're a bit older and they meet again under different circumstances. In the beginning Caliph is a student, but later he's a king, and Sena is a witch who is ordered to do certain things. Caliph is desribed as a reluctant king and that makes him an interesting character. Anthony Huso writes carefully about his life, duty and feelings. Some people may probably think that Caliph is a clichéd character, because he's a reluctant king, but he's not – he's a realistic and genuinely interesting character.
Anthony Huso also writes carefully about Sena and makes her a complex character, who has an obsession to find out more about Cisrym Ta, which is an ancient arcane text. Sena is a witch and she's the pupil of Megan, who's an older witch and a Coven Mother. Sena's life can be called difficult and the choices she makes are interesting.
The motives and feelings of Caliph and Sena are handled in a sophisticated manner. Both characters are almost like normal people and that's why they're both likeable characters. I think that several readers will feel sympathy for both of them.
The witches are fascinating characters, because the Shradnae witches are described as women who are willing to do almost anything to get what they want. Their sex life is interesting, because they use sex for their own purposes – sex is almost like a tool for them. Being a witch is dangerous and a witch has to work in secrecy and follow the orders of the Sisterhood.
The servants and other characters are also interesting characters and they make a good supporting cast. For example, spymaster Zane Vhortghast (Mr. Vhortghast) is a good and mysterious character and Caliph's friends from the college are also good characters.
The official synopsis of The Last Page reveals a lot about the story, but it leaves many important things unsaid. It only scratches the surface on certain things, so here more information the world and other things:
The world of The Last Page is a steampunkish and fascinating fantasy world. In my opinion this world is in the early stages of industrialism/industrial revolution. The world is full of different kind of things – trains, power sources, newspapers, airships, guns etc. These things make the world interesting, because it differs from normal medieval fantasy worlds. I think I can say that the world Anthony Huso has created is a strangely familiar place, but it's also a profoundly different place.
The worldbuilding is done with care. Anthony Huso writes fantastically about the world, the people, the cities and the wilderness. He describes things with care, but he also leaves room for the reader's imagination.
The Last Page combines different kind of elements – fantasy, steampunk, witches, sex, magic, political situations etc – in a splendid way. It's almost amazing how entertaining and well written this book is. Although Anthony Huso uses several basic fantasy elements and writes about typical fantasy situations, he manages to create something new and wonderful. His fantasy is inventive and engrossing. Sexual situations are handled well in this book, because Huso writes fluently about sex and desire. Magical things are also handled flawlessly.
In my opinion political situtations and other similar things are surprisingly interesting in this book. Some scenes are simple while others are more complex. This is good, because it creates diversity. In one fine scene Caliph has to prove to the Council that he's capable of being a king. This scene shows that Huso writes fluently about political situations – the character interaction works well in this scene and the reactions of the characters seem realistic.
There are several other good scenes, but I'm not going to analyze all of them. I'll only write about one more scene and then I'll write about other things, because I don't want to reveal too much about the story and I don't want to spoil anybody's fun of reading the book.
In the beginning of the book Caliph is reluctant to become a king and he runs away from the college to find Sena. In my opinion this scene is powerful, because it demonstrates how unwilling Caliph is to become a king, but it also shows that he's capable of making difficult choices when necessary. The Last Page contains lots of similar deftly written scenes, which will easily charm the reader.
Now I'll write about other things...
The sense of wonder is always present in The Last Page and the magical things are fascinating. As the story begins to unfold Anthony Huso shows the reader almost an amazing mount of wonders and inventions from the shocking meat industry to strange power sources (and much more). As the story develops, the plot becomes more interesting and nuanced, and the ending is good. I think that the author has done his best to create an absorbing, imaginative and vivid fantasy book for adults and he's succeeded in it beyond expectations. I'm sure that he'll become a successful and respected fantasy author.
I was positively surprised when I found out that this book contains darker magic (blood magic) than other new books. This kind of magic has always fascinated me in fantasy books, so I was thrilled to read about it. Holomorphy is a good invention, because the reader wants to know more about it.
The meat industry of Isca is a brilliant invention (it's one of the best inventions in this book). This meat industry is probably a shocking surprise for most readers, because they will never suspect what will be revealed to them. I'm not going to write more about this subject, but I can mention that the author has used quite a lot of imagination when he's written about this meat industry. I think that horror readers will love Isca's meat industry, because horror literature is the only place where you'll be able to find similar shocking and disturbing visions. I loved this invention.
The fauna of the world is also quite interesting, because Anthony Huso mentions strange animals. For example, there are sarchal hounds and horrible otter-things which lie in wait below the lakes.
The pronunciation guide at the end of the book was useful. It helped to clarify certain things.
I could write much more about The Last Page, but I won't do that, because I think I've already praised this book too much. There's only only thing, which I haven't written about and that's the map of the world. The uncorrected proof doesn't contain a map of the world, but the final book will contain maps. The map isn't necessary to understand what's going on in this book, but it'll be interesting to see the map of the world.
According to Anthony Huso's official website, he has sold The Last Page and its sequel to Tor Books, so there'll probably be at least one sequel. I have to confess that I can hardly wait to get my hands of the sequel, because The Last Page is an amazingly good book.
Some readers may probably wonder if The Last Page is worth reading. I can say that it's definitely worth buying and reading. If you like good and inventive fantasy, you'll love this book. I think that The Last Page will be like a breath of fresh air to several readers who are fed up with mediocre and unimaginative fantasy books. This book is pure quality from the first page to the last page.
If you're looking for a new and a bit different kind of fantasy book, you must read The Last Page. I can recommend The Last Page to all fantasy readers, because it's an exceptionally powerful debut book, which deserves all the praise it gets. I can honestly say that The Last Page is one of the best and finest fantasy books I've read this year. You won't regret reading this book, because it's a damn good fantasy book! Buy it, read it and love it!