Friday, 23 January 2015

The Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith

 

TW: graphic descriptions of rape, sexual slavery, torture, murder, violence towards women, violence towards children, xenophilia, and I'm probably forgetting a thousand other things...

Don't let the trigger warnings discourage you (or really, really DO if they are trigger warnings to you), like many epic fantasy/sci-fi works most of these things are present. They didn't keep A Song of Ice and Fire from becoming a best-seller, and they don't keep The Last Hour of Gann from being an amazing book.

Amber, our female protagonist, crashed along her sister and a bunch of other humans (this seems so weird to write, but bear with me, I'm still on that human vs aliens mindset after 1277 pages of it) into an unknown planet.

What follows is a pretty good illustration of human character when faced by survival: horrid.
That's not to say that the power dynamics which arise aren't absolutely enthralling! 
Scott (he can't really be thought of as the main antagonist because so many villains pop up in this book and they are absolutely despicable, but he's certainly the one who lasts the longest) who by virtue of embodying insufferable and unflagging male entitlement, no matter how repeatedly he is proven wrong, becomes so hateful that I ended up longing for his appearance just so that I could hate some more.

They end up finding one of the indigenous species of the planet: a lizardman (for lack of a better descriptor). Meoraq is part of the elite of an oligarchic society, a warrior priest, who defines himself by his strict religion.

I was expecting the romance, since I read the book's Goodreads' page, but I was still a bit... iffy about it?
I mean, when you think of a dreamy hero your mind doesn't automatically go to a lizard. ...Hopefully. 

But here's the thing, their relationship is so sloooooooow moving, and so well developed that when they get together (way, way into the book) it just seems natural. 

One thing I absolutely loved! 
Amber doesn't find Meoraq attractive, and Meoraq doesn't find Amber attractive. They fall for each others' mind, spirit, character, strength, morals. 
I find that great! Too often books gloss over these things, but think about it: why would an alien find a human woman attractive? This is the Mars Needs Women trope at work, and I'm glad R. Lee Smith avoided it. 

The action never lags, I never found myself bored - in fact I wish I did! There never seemed to be a moment of peace! 
The plot is coherent and addictive, the pacing is phenomenal, the characters feel real... I have nothing but praises about this book!

Then why the 4 star rating instead of 5 stars?
It was too much for me. Bear in mind that this is a purely personal complaint, and does not reflect upon the quality of the book!
But, as I said, for me, it was too much. Too much violence, too much rape (it's never rape for the sake of rape, it's always there for a reason and adds to the realism of the story, considering the society in which the characters find themselves), but too much... too much!

Still, it was an amazing read, and I highly recommend it to fantasy/sci-fi/romance fans.


R. Lee Smith's blog 

Buy The Last Hour of Gann
@ amazon ($8)
@ Barnes and Noble ($6.50)

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