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Book Review: The Last Ancient

09 Dec

Since I haven’t had much time to read the past couple of weeks as I am currently in the process of immigrating from Finland to Sweden, I thought I’d post a past review about a book I didn’t expect to enjoy nearly as much as I did…

ancient

Around Nantucket Island, brutal crime scenes are peppered with ancient coins, found by the one man who can unlock their meaning. But what do the coins have to do with the crimes? Or the sudden disease epidemic? Even the creature? And who–or what–left them?

The answer leads reporter Simon Stephenson on a journey through ancient mythology, numismatics, and the occult. Not to mention his own past, which turns out to be even darker than he’d realized; his murdered father was a feared arms dealer, after all. Along the way, Simon battles panic attacks and a host of nasty characters — some natural, others less so — while his heiress fiancee goes bridezilla, and a gorgeous rival TV reporter conceals her own intentions.

I might never have picked up this novel had I not had the pleasure of meeting the author in person. I met Eliot Baker at FinnCon 2014 where I was first introduced to The Last Ancient during a reading session. After hearing only a few excerpts from this book, I knew I had to read it despite my reservations about the treasure-hunting pirate-type cover and the fact that I’m not usually a fan of thrillers or mysteries or crime novels – and this seemed like all three rolled into one with a dash of the fantastic. Nevertheless, I bought the book and started reading it on the train ride from from the con, and? I couldn’t put the bloody thing down!

I love mythology and this book delivers it in spades! The blurb actually doesn’t do this book justice, in my opinion – a trend I’m discovering :/ This book is a lot less mystery thriller than it is dark urban fantasy. Baker has effortlessly woven together contemporary politics, environmental issues and economics into a story about alchemy, replete with snippets from history and a good deal of philosophy – in short, The Last Ancient is the perfect cocktail for anyone who prefers their fantasy delivered on the barrel of an automatic assault rifle instead of a broad-sword.

This is not my usual sort of read – being adult and a little too urban fantasy when I tend to prefer young adult and fantasy of epic proportions – and yet, I was enthralled from the very first chapter. I have learned so much from this book, particularly about ancient coins and numismatics, not to mention shale oil technology!

Baker’s writing is great too, delivering stunning metaphor while not getting bogged down in description. The book is ambitious though and it tries to cram a lot into its pages. I think Baker pulled it off but I can imagine some readers might find the multi-genre mash-up a little too much. The plot moves at a serious clip and if I have any complaints it’s that the ending – while spectacular – seemed a tiny bit rushed, so that by the time I reached the last line I felt out of breath and still wanting more. But when an author leaves me wanting more, that’s a job well-done.

This book seriously surprised and impressed me. I cannot wait to read more by Eliot Baker. 5/5 ink splats for this one.

5 inksplats

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Posted by on December 9, 2014 in Reviews

 

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M.D. Thalmann

M.D. Thalmann, a novelist and freelance journalist with an affinity for satire and science fiction, lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife, children, and ornery cats, reads too much and sleeps too little.

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