– goodreads –
Once again, Sharade got me to read a book. And once again, it was fantastic. I took it with me on a train ride and finished it literally in one single sitting. It read that fast. If you’re looking for something ridiculously fun, with great characters, tarot-based magic, loads of action, LGBTQ+ rep, and plenty of banter, this is the book for you.
My name is Rune Saint John.
I am, before anything else, a survivor: of a fallen House, of a brutal assault, of violent allies and complacent enemies, of life among a people who turned their back on me decades ago.
Rune is the last member of a fallen House, a survivor of a raid that killed his entire family with their servants, and a brutal sexual assault after. He lives with his bodyguard/best friend/Companion/major pain in the ass Brand, and together they act as sort-of mercenaries for the Tower Court. This time, they have to find out what happened to Addam, one of the scions of Justice Court.
I was, initially, quite wary. UF is not my style. Action is not my style. Magic systems are not my style. Humour often falls flat. In short, I’m fussy and a general pain in the ass to recommend books to (gods have mercy on my poor friends). But it won me over completely.
First, the characters. They are absolutely the best part of the book for me. Rune and his friendship with Brand especially. And the snark! It was hilarious. And how they care for each other is adorable. I liked everyone else as well. Teenagers Max and Quinn, the sheltered and rich Addam who eventually becomes Rune’s love interest. Or the mysterious Lord Tower. I don’t think I could pick a favourite character. Not everyone was likable, but they were all well-rounded and interesting.
“I will shoot you in the ass, the goddamn ass! I will shoot you in the ass, and you’ll be shitting through an inner tube for weeks!”
“I’ll be right back,” I said.
“In! The! Ass!”
(And have I mentioned the snark?)
The world is equally fascinating. It’s based on the Major Arcana tarot cards, which is not something I know much at all about, but it was certainly unique. Some characters have various inborn abilities, such as seers, others use sigils (items that store spells), which are rare and precious, some have no magic at all. Spells are often flashy and take a while to prepare or recharge. This combined with the fact that characters have limited spell slots reminded me a lot of video games.
The only thing that bothered me was that plot was a tiny bit predictable regarding the suspects – I expected some wild twist, but no, this is no mystery. But that’s a fairly minor complaint. I also need to reread it because I blew through it just a little too fast and too sloppily, but oh well.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.
Recommended to: those who don’t usually read UF, fans of Los Nefilim, anyone looking for a fun read with great characters, those who prefer a bit more excitement in their books, fans of magic systems, anyone looking for ownvoices LGBTQ+ representation
Not recommended to: those for whom any of the above is a deal-breaker, content warning: rape (in flashbacks, but detailed)