It was her last chance:
Amber Bierce had nothing left except her sister and two tickets on Earth’s first colony-ship. She entered her Sleeper with a five-year contract and the promise of a better life, but awakened in wreckage on an unknown world. For the survivors, there is no rescue, no way home and no hope until they are found by Meoraq—a holy warrior more deadly than any hungering beast on this hostile new world…but whose eyes show a different sort of hunger when he looks at her.
It was his last year of freedom:
Uyane Meoraq is a Sword of Sheul, God’s own instrument of judgment, victor of hundreds of trials, with a conqueror’s rights over all men. Or at least he was until his father’s death. Now, without divine intervention, he will be forced to assume stewardship over House Uyane and lose the life he has always known. At the legendary temple of Xi’Matezh, Meoraq hopes to find the deliverance he seeks, but the humans he encounters on his pilgrimage may prove too great a test even for him…especially the one called Amber, behind whose monstrous appearance burns a woman’s heart unlike any he has ever known.
A week or two ago Jane from Dear Author wrote on Facebook how much she enjoyed this book. I’ve been wanting to try this author since I heard about Heat last year. So I wandered over to Goodreads to see what other readers had to say, and I saw this review by Jill Myles so I knew I had to read it.
This is most likely my favorite book of the year, which means I gently place Captive Prince Vol 1 & 2 in second place (and Heart of Obsidian in third place – my top three books make me so freaking happy.) If someone had told me at the beginning of the year that my two favorite books would be these extremely dark, intense, epic world books, I probably would have laughed and snuggled up with a motorcycle club book. How interesting things have turned out.
There is so much to say about The Last Hour of Gann, I feel like if I start trying to summarize I’ll just ramble on forever. So I’m going to make my points in a list format, to stay somewhat organized. And before I go on let me say – this book is extremely long. I think the longest book I’ve ever read. Just FYI.
Our Heroine: “So suck it up,” she told herself. “Amber Bierce, fearless Space Adventurer, can live with loose underwear.”
Amber is a human who lives on Earth, a future Earth that is very over populated, government controlled etc. She decides her only hope for a decent future is to jump on a space ship with 50,000 other people (and her younger sister), go into a medically induced sleep for three years and wake up on a new planet and colonize it. Except their ship gets off course, and they crash land onto a new, unknown planet. Oopsie. She doesn’t believe in God – I tell you this for what you read next.
Our Hero: “This day will end,” he said softly. “You and I will go on.”
Meoraq lives on the planet that Amber crashes into. The people that inhabit this planet are lizard-like creatures. They walk on two legs, wear clothes, live in houses, speak their own language – yet have scales, spiney-thngs and three fingers. God and religion is everything to Meoraq. He believes every single thing that happens is fate/destiny. He lives in a world where “The Ancients” built machines, and then something really bad happened, killing many, many people. So now they have gone back to no modern items, a very religious, strict culture. Meoraq comes from a line of pure blood warriors, so he is the chosen one of his people – is a Sheulek – which means he acts as God’s hand for his people. He can also walk into any village and take anything he wants (including women) and people bow down to him. He also is the ultimate judge and has killed many whom God tells him are guilty.
There is rape in this story. In Meoraq’s culture, women don’t get much of a say as to who (or when) their sexual partners will be. The men in his culture have non-consensual sex. Meoraq has non-consensual sex. The first time he is introduced, we see a scene with him doing this. He never rapes Amber, BUT Amber does get raped more than once by other ‘bad guys.’ And those scenes are in this book and are quite descriptive. I felt the author took care with these scenes and the way they play out and the aftermath were very relevant to the story. They were not in there just for shock value. I also feel that as Meoraq comes to know Amber and eventually comes to care and love her, his views on women might have changed…maybe more so in the future. Amber is an extremely strong heroine – I mean really strong and I loved her. The other women in the book are not so strong. They are very submissive and weak. That didn’t bother me as I read – but I’m putting it out there in case that is a turnoff for you. At the end of the book, Meoraq doesn’t have some miraculous turn-around where he wants all women to rise to power. I think he’d still take a houseful of female slaves any day. But – something quite impactful happens to Meoraq at the end, and I think after he has time to really let his new knowledge settle he may be open to having different thoughts about women. That is something that the reader has to decide on his/her own.
The World: I loved the world in this book. This is a world that is ravaged by storms and always cloudy. Amber and the few other survivors must tromp through water day after day. The cities are now ruins and at some points in the story, they enter these cities trying to find shelter or maybe some kind transmission tower. What you find in these cities are creepy and very dark and intense. I really like that the author at times takes us out of the soggy fields and puts the characters into these desolate places. There are also clues and foreshadowing as to what is to come at the end. When Amber’s ship crashed, it caused a huge fire. Meoraq, quite a distance away, sees this fire and it is kind of pointing upwards – of course Meoraq takes this as a sign from God. There is a holy temple of sorts on a mountain somewhat near the crash site that Meoraq now feels like it is his mission in life to pilgrimage to this temple, open the doors and hear the voice of God.
Meoraq had trained a lifetime to hear Sheul’s voice and feel His touch. Now he saw His waving arm. It would be a foolish thing to pretend he did not know what it meant.
Or what he had to do.
It’s during his travel to this place where he stumbles across Amber and the other survivors. The entire story leads up to Meoraq and Amber getting to this temple. I found it very exciting and suspenseful knowing that eventually at the end of this book, we would get to the temple and something big would happen. I wasn’t disappointed.
The Romance: I adored the romance in this book. I fell in love with Meoraq and all his scales and spines damn it! He is so fierce, and arrogant, and sexy. He is witty. They learn each other’s language but there are still slang words and phrases he doesn’t understand which would make me laugh. Meoraq is suppose to be in control of his emotions at all times but he often lashes out with his temper and then immediately starts to pray – which made me laugh. Meoraq and Amber butt heads in this book so damn much. Amber can’t stand the fact that Meoraq thinks everything happens because of God – that plays a big role in this book – but their banter is just so well done. Meoraq being this revered lizardman of God, never gets touched without his explicit consent – except Amber has no idea this is the case.
And she took his arm.
Reached right up and took it.
Meoraq held very still as she used him to climb to her feet, unsure where he should be looking. He was excruciatingly aware of everything around him: the wind whispering through the grass, the piercing warble of laughing humans, the smell of wet leaves and earth, Nicci’s silent staring eyes, and above everything, the warm press of all five thing fingers that gripped him.
No woman in all his life had ever…ever touched him like that.
And there is sex. Eventually. At first they have to work through their surprising attraction to each other.
Meoraq reached out and caught at her leg before she could flee. He rubbed his brow-ridges,cursing himself and all the words he could not make, because there was no way to tell her that it wasn’t sex, it wasn’t either that fierce eruptive will of Sheul or the shameful temptation of Gann, but this…this nameless thing that was neither fire nor clay but as constant as the wind, sometimes a storm and sometimes only a breeze, was always with him.
No, it was not sex, but it had to be something that made him look for reasons to sit with her, to speak with her, even to fight with her if that was all there was, because even the most tedious and foul chore of curing a damned animal hide could become something to look forward to if he was with her. And it wasn’t sex, but he wished it was; it wasn’t sex, but if it had been, even that could be good, could even be glorious, just because it was with her.
Yes – the lizard peen comes out of this slit and him and Amber do the dirty dirty a lot. Meoraq is one horny dude. But let me say – by the time they actually have sex, you want it to happen. You know them both well enough that it makes sense. (for reals!)
I know some of you are like – seriously? You want me to read this book? Some of you will love it. Some of you will hate it. I hope I warned you of the dark and intense stuff enough.
I became completely invested in these characters. This author has such an incredible voice. The way she writes the dialogue, the romance, the world, the action scenes – it all worked for me. It’s so different and so well done.
For more thoughts on this book: