Last Call (Fault Lines, #1) PDF
by Tim Powers
In a word... (roughly translated, it means your naughty bits are fired up, tingly, and ready to rumble.) In more than a word...Last Call
is my new favoritest
book by Tim Powers. From a brain stimulating perspective, this produced a a significant amount of tingle by skillfully stroking a number of literary pleasure points.You know what I mean? First
, I love the way the magical elements are woven credibly into the fabric of the story. They are, simultaneously, both elusive and omnipresent throughout the narrative. The magic saturates the story and blankets the characters, but it’s just outside the vision of “the rest of the world.” Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, one of my favorite fantasy novels, does this very well, as do books like Moonheart and Memory and Dream by Charles de Lint. Last Call
pokes the bull squarely in its eye as well.Second
, the magic system itself was smart, suave and tethered extremely well to the story. It also felt unique and internally credible, which is always important for this kind of story. Powers employs an elaborate, complex system of magic based on TAROT
cards, with each of the tarot figure representing powerful, mythical “archetypes” through whom magical abilities can be channeled by those with the requisite skill.Third
, the tie-in between the tarot-based magic system and professional poker was brilliant and made wild, wonderful sense within the context of the story. The standard 52 card poker deck
is a derivation of the larger tarot deck minus some 22 cards known as the Major Arcana. Thus, all of the hopes, dreams, fears and other intense emotions invested by people while playing cards, even with these “diluted, reflections” of the more powerful tarot, create magical energies that can be drawn upon by those with magical ability.
, setting the book in my hometown of Vegas was a real treat for me, and likely added a bit to my overall happy. Plus, I gotta toss props to Timmy because he got every single geographical reference in the book correct. I know that may seem like a “lil bitty” thing, but it shows that he was conscious about getting the details right, and as a reader I really appreciated that.
Tim cares about us and it shows. PLOT SUMMARY:
As with most of Tim Powers’ books, Last Call
is set up as a secret history, in which he uses real life historical figures and related events and creates an “alternative explanation” for such events being motivated by supernatural/magical considerations. Case in point: Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was not just a famous gangster. He was also a powerful magician and the avatar of the mythical archetype known as the Fisher King
. Bugsy’s motivation for constructing the Flamingo Hotel and creating the foundation for today’s Sin City was to create a place of power where all of the energies created through gambling could be drawn upon to sustain him.
Enter Georges Leon, the current avatar of the Fisher King who assumed the role after defeating and destroying Bugsy through a clever and complicated series of actions which, FYI, I thought was handled incredibly well. Now Georges is obsessed with his own mortality and has devised a really NEATtastic
skill to keep himself young and spry (not to mention safe). Georges has acquired that ability to instantaneously transfer his consciousness into another body, permanently destroying the personality of the inhabitee.The catch
: the inhabitee has to be one of his children.
Enter Scott Crane (fka Scott Leon, Georges youngest son). When Scott was a tyke, Georges tried to pull the old “body snatcher” routine on Scott just as Georges had already done to Scott’s older brother. Well Mama Leon had had just about enough of that, thank you very much, and stopped the ceremony with a .44 magnum shot to Georges potty pole
which completed ruined ALL of his luggage (the hanging bag and both carry ons).
Scott and his mom then disappeared themselves leaving Georges with no Scott and no ability to make himself any more babies. However, keep in mind that Georges is one smart hombre and I’m sure he’ll think of something. Flash forward to 1989…and……
That’s all the set up I want to give because I don’t want to spoilerfy any of the good stuff for you. Everything above takes place in the Prologue of the book (with a few contextual details filled in so they make sense). The rest of the book is a combination of: (1) a gathering of some amazing characters, both magical and not, as they converge on Vegas to try and seize power from the King; and (2) Georges trying to hunt down and dispose of his competition so he can remain in power with the help of mysterious and dangerous card game known as ASSUMPTION
…I told you he would think of something.THOUGHTS:
This was terrific and is one that I know I will read again at some point because the amount of information and detail that Powers pours into the story is substantial. The characters, including those representing “archetypes,” are interesting and well drawn.The dialogue is outstanding and the plot, though convoluted and very complex, is engaging as can be. It's excellent.
But the real show stealing is the world-building and the tie-in between tarot lore, Arthurian legend and various mythologies. It wasFantastiGASMness
I only had two gripes with the book that kept me from giving it 5 stars. First, while the ending was satisfying and not exactly a letdown, it wasn’t the earth-shattering, toe curling climax that I was expecting. Second, I was a little disappointed with how a few of the supporting characters had their plot lines tied up in a less than exciting way. I thought it was a bit rushed and it felt like Tim was doing little meatball surgery towards the end.
Upon a re-read, these gripes may go away but they do hold the book back just a tad.
Still, an amazing book and one that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!! Definitely 4.5 stars!!
OR….again….in a word:
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Download PDF Last Call (Fault Lines, #1)