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Last Call (Fault Lines #1)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  4,015 ratings  ·  274 reviews
Enchantingly dark and compellingly real, the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Last Call is a masterpiece of magic realism from critically acclaimed author Tim Powers.

Set in the gritty, dazzling underworld known as Las Vegas, Last Call tells the story of a one-eyed professional gambler who discovers that he was not the big winner in a long-ago poker game . . . and now must
ebook, 560 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1992)
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In a word...
(roughly translated, it means your naughty bits are fired up, tingly, and ready to rumble.)

In more than a word...
Last Call is my new favoritest book by Tim Powers. From a brain stimulating perspective, this produced a a significant amount of tingle by skillfully stroking a number of literary pleasure points. You know what I mean?

First, I love the way the magical elements are woven credibly into the fabric of the story. They are, simultaneously, both elusive and omnipresent through
“Good evening and welcome to ESPN’s coverage of the 1st World Championship of Assumption Poker Tournament at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. I’m your host Mike Honcho and with me is three time poker champion Billy “Busted Flush” Stark. Billy, you can certainly feel the excitement and tension in this room tonight.”

“Mike, you got that right. We all used to think that poker tournaments for money were a big deal, but ever since the recent revelations that magic is real and that muc
Dan 1.0
Former professional poker player Scott Crane's life is falling apart, having just lost his wife and been on a beer binge, when aspects of his past have come back to haunt him. Specifically, a bizarre card game twenty years before where he may have lost his soul. But what do his foster father and foster sister have to do with it? And why is everyone trying to kill him?

Last Call is really hard to summarize accurately. You could say it was about a man who lost his soul and tried to win it back. Or
Summary: Reminded me of a mash-up of early Stephen King and Neil Gaiman... I loved it!

I'm running miles (and miles!) behind on my reviewing, but I have to say something about this book - so let's bullet point:

- I thought it was a fantasy/thriller based on poker.
- I hadn't read any Tim Powers before and I found it hard to get psyched about the concept
- It won me over pretty damn quick.
- It's excellent - really, truly, I was a fool for not reading it sooner!

Let me get one hang-up off my chest
Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper
Another twist on the Arthur Legend from Tim Powers. This one is uniquely unusual (yes, imagine the song in the background, "People are strange, when you're a stranger...") It deserves a longer review than this, so I'll update it later.

For now, this is a fun book in the spirit of Declare, with a unique blend of the unusual woven through actual historical events. The story is set in the near past but reaches back as far as "Bugsy Malone" and the gangsters who hatched Las Vegas. In this story, Tim
Pete Williams
Nov 30, 2007 Pete Williams rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people the term "speculative fiction" appeals to.
Like this one nearly as much as Powers's "On Stranger Tides" and more than Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" (similar subject matter).

Powers does a lot of research. Obsessively immerses himself in whatever is available on a time and/or place that interests him, and then goes looking for the gaps in the facts. He runs screaming from Occam's razor and fills the void with the most complicated and far-fetched "possibilities". I love it.

Here, he looks at Vegas, from the early days to the early 90s (when
Last Call should be revered as many things, one is a great novel of the American West with a focus on that dark heart of it all, Las Vegas. A dark fantasy or magic realism pitched somewhere between Leiber and Pynchon and Eco. Secret history, noir, and Jodorowsky styled surrealism combine in a dark demented trip through the major arcana, poker, chaos theory, the Fisher King legend, and wealth of literary allusions(Rudy Rucker, T.S. Eliot, M.R. James, and many more). Great eccentric characters mak ...more
Twenty years ago, the main character lost his soul in a game of cards. To prevent his foster sister from suffering as well, he enters into a battle for godlike power—literally. He and many others race across the country trying to become the new embodiment of the legendary personas that guide humanity unseen. The writing is taut and the pacing is great; the detailed descriptions and various characters’ introspection serve the plot rather than hinder it. The basis for the novel is twisty and compl ...more
Ben Babcock
I was avoiding this book, and then I decided to read it during my busiest weeks of the term, which in retrospect was a mistake, since it took me two weeks to read! In Ben's reading world, that is an eternity.

This book comes to me courtesy of an ARC of the Subterranean Express edition, which I received when they shipped me The God Engines . I was pleasantly surprised, and I shelved this book to read it when I could get to it. Every time I took it off the shelf and glanced at the back cover, howe
Aug 17, 2008 Peter rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Powers or Vegas
Up there as my favorite Powers novel (tied with Declare and edging out Earthquake Weather because it's a sequal), this is the novel where he learned to get the reader though his main character's dark-night-of-the-soul without losing the forward momentum of the plot. A heady mix of gambling, American mythology, and clever occult conceits, this novel shows Powers is at the top of his form -- engaging characters, humor, horror, pathos, thrills, and a certain kind of meloncholy awareness that, while ...more
Book Reaction (not a full review)

Last Call is a weird little alternate history that mixes poker with tarot. My ability to enjoy this book was probably impeded by the fact that the last time I played poker was in the fifth grade (we played for mechanical pencils), and basically the only thing I know about Tarot is that it doesn't rhyme with "carrot."

The general idea is that Tarot cards have magical powers that are also carried in the more mundane playing cards, and certain individuals (includin
William Thomas
Having just a bit ago gotten over award season by watching the Oscars and being extremely disappointed once again, I tend not to take award-winning anything too seriously. Birdman was a good movie, is a good movie, with terrible cinematography (yeah, I said it). Don't believe me? Watch it again, only this time notice how 99% of all framing and all shots are done in the closeup. Not as enjoyable when you realize there's nothing else in the frame other than parts of two different peoples faces. An ...more

Splendid; deeply involving -- and long. My eyes can barely focus after reading so much.

Reminded me of Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light : a masterful absconding of ancient mythologies to tell and entirely new tale. Enough to make me put Zelazny's book on the re-read shelf just to compare.

For those that have recently read Powers' Anubis Gates -- this one is much better.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

As I suspected, after my brain got a chance to overcome the infatuation of a powerful book,
Last Call is the second book I've read by Tim Powers, with the first being Anubis Gates. I enjoyed Anubis Gates a bit more, as the central time travel conceit was better suited to my interest than the Tarot/poker focus of Last Call. However, I must say that knowing nothing about poker or Tarot did not significantly detract from my enjoyment of the book.

If I had to liken Last Call to any other book that I've read, it would have to be Neil Gaiman's American Gods (though I believe Last Call was pub
Sam Reader

Okay, so the rundown is as follows: I love this book. I love it unabashedly, I love it with all my heart and soul, it is hands down one of the best books I have read. The characters, dialogue, and the way history and actual mysticism and mathematics are woven into the fiction all work, and even anyone who isn't well-versed in crazy historical minutiae can enjoy the story of a man storming Las Vegas to claim back his soul and his birthright with no difficulty. Add to this the descripti
-Póker, religiones, mitos y tragedias de diferente índole.-

Género. Narrativa Fantástica.

Lo que nos cuenta. Georges León tiene una extraña relación familiar con su esposa y sus dos hijos, una posición de poder en Las Vegas que va más allá de lo económico para adentrarse en una misteriosa versión de lo sobrenatural, una afición por el póker que supera tanto el propio juego como el dinero y, además, un oscuro pasado. Décadas después del fin trágico y violento de la unidad familiar, su hijo menor, S
Melissa Proffitt
One of my favorite books ever. There's just too much going on here: the mythos of the Fisher King is wrapped up in gambling and Tarot and the history of Las Vegas, the plot hinges on a bizarre and brilliantly-conceived game of poker, there are ghosts and dead kings at the bottom of Lake Mead.... It seems the more I love a book, the harder it is for me to describe it without just saying, "Read it. Read it now."
Samuel Lubell
This is an Americanized version of the myth of the Fisher King based around poker and alcohol. Scott Cane is the son of an evil version of the Fisher King, who jumps from body to body by assuming their hands in a came of Ascension, poker played with a Tarot deck. Not knowing their relationship, Scott had played the game and 20 years later his body is due to be possessed. His only hope is to become the Fisher king himself. Meanwhile, he is being tempted by a spirit taking the form of his dead wif ...more
Sep 28, 2007 Betsey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lori
This was a fun read. It wasn't too deep, but wasn't too shallow either. It was extra fun b/c Powers really worked knew his tarot and poker, and made his created world seem effortless and logical. I saw some other reviewers compare this to American Gods, but this difference is: it doesn't suck.
Lauren Stoolfire
I greatly enjoyed the audio production of Tim Powers' Last Call. There's a lot going on, but the main gist of the story is this: A professional gambler realizes he didn't win big at that big poker game 20 years ago, and now he must find away to win back his soul before it's too late. I could also say it's a retelling of the Fisher King legend and about Bugsy Siegel and Las Vegas.

I like the magic system and how well it's woven into the fabric of the story. The magic is elusive, yet always there
Kate Sherrod
"Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died." - Steven Wright

While finishing with The Stand, the climax of which takes place in a haunting, demonic ghost town version of Las Vegas, I had to struggle not to compare King's version of bad magic in Sin City to Tim Powers' in Last Call, one of my all-time favorite novels. And the comparison was totally unfair of me to make, because as far as I'm concerned, Tim Powers is the sine qua non of maki
Juan Raffo
"—¿Qué compraste en la última mano? —preguntó Crane.
—Suerte —dijo Ozzie—"

El mito del Rey Pescador re-interpretado en clave de póquer con Las Vegas como especie de Monte Olimpo de arquetipicos dioses representados en las cartas del tarot.

El mafioso Bugsy Siegel, uno de los creadores de Las Vegas fue en realidad una re-encarnación del Rey Pescador, avatar de Dionisios, Osiris, Jesús y cualquier dios que haya muerto para resucitar, destronado por Georges Leon, quien para ser inmortal necesita trasl
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I re-read it as often as I can without having it feel stale. It takes place "now"-ish (I think there's a specific year, but it could be "now"), and in a world that you begin to believe might be ours. It's a lot like ours, but with forces at work that most people won't or can't perceive.

I cannot do this book justice. Just go get it and read it and love it.

Possible spoilers below, do not read further if you don't like spoilers!
(I'll try not to give muc
This is one of my favorite Tim Powers books (Expiration Date and Earthquake Weather - the other two in the loose "fault lines" trilogy - also making the list as well as Drawing of the Dark). Most of Powers books are high in cool factor but these three with their teasing oblique references to an overall mythology (the fisher king) have added cool. This one features a vegas that plays poker with tarot cards for even more fun. Everyone should read it :)
If you're only going to read one Tim Powers book, this should probably be it. Of course, I would urge you to read several Tim Powers books, and possibly all of them.

Assuming it's your first outing with Powers, get ready for Grail Magic in Las Vegas, turning the new kingdom in the west into a very old kingdom in the west. Although Shane complains that the magic system is obscure and poorly explained, this is not a book that can be approached from a technical viewpoint as to the magic system. It's
Demi Abromaits
There is something really special and captivating about the way this story is written. Having suggested this book to a few friends, I still find myself stumbling over words trying to describe the plot: gambling, an adventure, body snatching, Las Vegas, arcana, gangsters, and Arthurian legend, etc. Yet no matter how I try to describe this novel, its whole is more valuable than the sum of its components. I find Last Call to be the perfect middle ground between a approachable page-turner and a more ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tim Powers sure writes some interesting books. His 1992 "Last Call" (the first book in his "Fault Lines" series) won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 1993. Not only is it different as only Tim Powers can write, it's also different from what Tim Powers usually writes. His normal method is to fill in the gaps in documented historical records with weirdness to come up with an "alternate history." In theory, that's what we have here. But, in this c ...more
John Herbert
A mixture of playing cards and tarot cards will determine the next Fisher King, and the battlefield consists of the current holder (the father) and the contender (the son), and a host of would-be's who flit in and out of this strange tale.
But lives are at stake, or more to the point, souls are at stake, and ghostly visions pop up now and again, just to keep you on your toes.

And, if like me, you have a job remembering who did what on which page, which is about 60 pages ago, and now you've forgot
This was originally reviewed at my blog "Relentlessly Reading - And Writing About It". Check it out for more upcoming reviews.

"If the drink in your glass starts to sit at an angle that ain't quite level, or if the cigarette smoke starts to crowd in over the cards and fall there, or if plants in the room suddenly start to wilt, or if the air is suddenly dry and hot in your throat, smelling like sun-hot rock, fold out. You don't know what you might be buying or selling come the showdown."

— Ozzy Cr
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Timothy Thomas Powers is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare.

Most of Powers's novels are "secret histories": he uses actual, documented historical events featuring famous people, but shows another view of them in which occult or supernatural factors heavily influence the motivations a
More about Tim Powers...

Other Books in the Series

Fault Lines (3 books)
  • Expiration Date (Fault Lines, #2)
  • Earthquake Weather (Fault Lines, #3)
The Anubis Gates On Stranger Tides Declare The Drawing of the Dark The Stress of Her Regard

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