The Last Hour of Gann

The Last Hour of Gann - R. Lee Smith The slump is ended and I owe it all to R. Lee Smith.

Oh this book! This book! This is not a perfect book, but it is a great one.There are problems with the characterization of the side characters. The other humans are either cateogrically unfeeling or lemmings, and it does drag along in places (particularly in the first bit when the dumaq are first introduced), just didn't matter. None of it mattered in the end end because Amber and Meroaq are everything they need to be. And they are spectacularly drawn.

Very few characters are painted as vividly and become as real as Amber and Meroaq do in this book. There are only a handful of characters I think I've read ever that really stick with me. Sure, there are lots of books where the characters are very present and "real" while you're in the story, but that doesn't mean that they stick around occupying space in your mind after the story is done. Amber and Meroaq, for me, will become like Jamie and Clare, or Rhett and Scarlett, in other words, an iconic love story. Those are some big shoes to fill, but honestly it was just that good, they were just that well done. The romance is exactly what a romance should be, because at its essence it has very little to do with physical attraction (they aren't even the same species!) and everything to do with all the empty spaces the couple fill up for one another. They make each other better.

Another reviewer likened this book to Outlander and I have to say I agree. Not because there is really anything even remotely similar about either the plot or the characters, but rather the portrait of the alien world and the intensity of the relationship between Amber and her lizardman echo that of Gabladon's historic Scotland and Jamie and Clare in Outlander. Also like Gabladon's work there is a fair bit of nasty, cringe-worthy awfulness that happens to our heroes (e.g. there is rape and other horrible, horrible things, be warned!) But it seems the strength of both these authors is in detailing both romance and horror equally, unflinchingly, without ever straying into the voyeuristic-- it only makes the story come alive more.

Bravo R. Lee Smith. This is a real winner. I wasn't expecting it, but I'm so glad that I picked it up. The only real problem was that despite its 1000 some odd pages, it ended, and I wasn't ready. I wanted to spend more time with Amber and Meroaq on Gann. Sequel please?

And did I mention it's an epic? I'm a sucker for an epic anything-- the wild west, war time drama, or even crash landings on alien planets with strange, religious-zealot, warrior-badass lizardmen. Who knew?