'Last First Snow' - Book Review

I've been a big fan of Max Gladstone's "Craft" series "Three Parts Dead" through "Two Serpents Rise" and "Full Fathom Five." He's been claiming that there will be four in the series, making this, Last First Snow, the last. As it was just published in 2015, we'll see if he actually sticks by that: he's a hell of a world-builder and the "Craft" series feels like a huge world full of potential. On the other hand, if he's such a good world-builder ... he could build another world too.

This story is set in Dresediel Lex as was Two Serpents Rise. Several characters that showed up in previous stories resurface here: Caleb Altemoc is a minor character (he was the protagonist in Two Serpents Rise), his father Temoc is a major character, Elayne Kevarian is the protagonist (she's appeared in at least two of the other books, although not previously in the lead), and The King in Red (who had a small but significant part in Two Serpents Rise) has a major part here. But by the time you get 100 pages in, you realize that this is set 20 years prior to Two Serpents Rise. The problem then is that you already know that all the major characters are going to survive, which removes a lot of threat. It's intensely frustrating, as this is otherwise a very good book that I would probably rate as second in quality in the series after Three Parts Dead.

The story is about the "Skittersill Uprising," which was mentioned a couple times in Two Serpents Rise. Temoc is a priest who fought in "The God Wars" against the Craftsmen - among them Elayne and the King in Red - who ultimately defeated and destroyed most of the Gods. But Elayne respects Temoc (and saved his life during the God Wars). Now he's a leader in a morally justifiable social uprising in the poor Skittersill area - an uprising that the King in Red has hired Elayne to quash.

The politics - both the talk and the fighting - is played out exceptionally well, and the characters are very good. But - as already mentioned - I was very upset to have a huge part of the suspense destroyed for me by this turning out to be a prequel ... which meant there was no threat of death for several characters. If you read this as the first or second in the series, it would be an excellent book.