The Last Page
Anthony Huso’s debut novel The Last Page is certainly a tough one. Highly original and rife with elements of the weird it is a fantasy novel quite unlike any I have ever read. The blurb on the book from Glen Cook mentions a link to “science fantasy” and that comparison is not too far off base. The Last Page is a novel unlike anything on the market today; an important distinction since its unique style and willingness to borrow conventions from outside the typical fantasy genre called to mind the old school fantasists featured in the pages of Weird Tales (authors like C. L. Moore and Fritz Leiber). In a genre that has become somewhat insular and self-referential The Last Page is a rare exercise in invention and originality.
The Last Page initially centers on Caliph Howl a young man finishing his studies at school while reluctantly awaiting the summons home to assume the unwanted kingship of Isca. Caliph, in the last year or so of his studies meets Sena a fellow student and the two students quickly form a bond. Sena is not quite what she seems; Sena is a Shradnae witch who seeks the mysterious Cisrym Ta; an ancient grimoire of unknown power. The book is locked by magic and in order to open it she needs to betray someone who loves her. Of course, Caliph’s kingdom is threatened by civil war while other unknown things move against both Sena and Caliph.
One thing I should note is that the invented language and unique characters used throughout The Last Page look completely terrible on my nook. Looking at the Nook for PC software I can see they don’t look bad there so the difficulty must be on the device itself rather than the file. It’s a minor quibble but The Last Page is liberally sprinkled with this bit of invention. Secondly, and another pitfall of reading The Last Page on an e-reader is that the glossary and pronunciation guide for these letters and words is located at the end of the novel. It is a chore and a distraction to flip to that information while reading. To be fair my first choice for reading The Last Page was print, but as happens here in the library, it has seemingly disappeared off the shelves.