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The Last Page (Caliph Howl #1)

3.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  353 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
Dark and rich, epic in scope, in The Last Page Anthony Huso has crafted a fantasy in the vein of China Mieville's Perdido Street Station and Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, teeming with unthinkable horrors and stylish wonders.

The city of Isca is set like a dark jewel in the crown of the Duchy of Stonehold. In this sprawling landscape, the monsters one sees are nothing compared
Paperback, 448 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Tor Books (first published August 10th 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,006)
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Dec 03, 2013 Lindsey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No One
Shelves: fantasy, ebooks
Only good grammar saved this book from being a single star. (This is possibly the longest review I've ever written. It was simply so problematic that I need the catharsis of writing about it. For the high points, skip to the end.)

This novel had such an interesting premise. Spies, a reluctant king, magic through math... the math angle was enough to hook me. Too bad the author has no grasp of higher mathematics (a few buzz words thrown in here and there) and never, ever explained how "holomorphy"
I got about 200 pages into it, and finally decided screw it. There's too many good books in the world to force myself through one I'm not enjoying.

I really enjoy the idea of vaguely Lovecraftian steampunk political fantasy, and aspects of the story did, undoubtedly, intrigue me. The primary problem I had was that the combination of the author's baroque prose and the unusual worldbuilding complete with made up words made it difficult to really immerse myself in the book when I kept breaking off
Apr 10, 2011 Terence rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mieville, steam-punk, and Cthulhu fans primarily
Recommended to Terence by: Impulse library check-out
Shelves: sf-fantasy
2.75 to 3 stars

A entertaining steam-punk fantasy novel that (despite the promise of a concluding book) can stand quite well on its own. For the plot summary, I'll refer you to Stefan's review.

It didn't make a great impression on me one way or another but I'll jot down some stray impressions:

1. Huso can write believably complex characters, particularly Sena, who's torn between her loyalty to the Shradnae and her love (if real) for Caliph.

2. I liked the Cthulhu-esque nature of the creatures behind
The blurb of the novel does not do justice to this awesome novel that is the "pure" genre debut of the year so far for me.

I have not encountered the inventiveness, sense of wonder and generally the "many goodies" of The Last Page in a debut, all packed in a reasonable 400 odd pages, since John C Wright's Golden Age and Gary Gibson's Angel Stations, though this one is fantasy with blood magic, necromancy, mysterious and ultra-powerful beings and airships, guns, newspapers and a "steampunk" like s
Sep 30, 2015 Derek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This contains (view spoiler) the best and most interesting rendering of a Necronomicon descendant that I've ever seen. Huso opens the veil a bit on his book of dark knowledge, the Cisrym Ta, revealing enigmatic Inti'Drou glyphs, complex fractal looping mind-distorting things--some of which are actually unsettlingly depicted on the page--representing compound syllables in a language thousands of years dead ...more
Dec 12, 2010 edifanob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books, 2010-reads
From language point of view this has been the most challenging read in 2010. It was impossible for me to read The Last Page without using several online dictionaries! You should know that English is not my first language.
The world is compelling.

While working on my full review I decided that this is definitely a five star book compared to my other ratings and therefore I changed my rating from four to five stars.
Read my full review over at Edi's Book Lighthouse
Ranting Dragon
May 03, 2011 Ranting Dragon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guests

Anthony Huso’s debut novel, The Last Page, is the first book of a duology. With its mixture of fantasy, steampunk, and horror elements, I expected to breeze through it in a matter of days. It took longer than I anticipated, but I felt rewarded for my patience.

The story centers on young Caliph Howl, a student trying his best to avoid graduating and returning to the Duchy of Stonehold where he is to become the High King. Caliph meets Sena, a sensual witch an
The Last Page by Anthony Huso is an exciting debut novel that, despite some rough spots here and there, delivers thrills and originality in spades, and promises great things for the future.

Caliph Howl, the main character, is described on the book’s cover as Stonehold’s “reluctant High King,” but when The Last Page starts off, Caliph is actually still the crown prince and a student of holomorphy (blood-fueled magic) at the High College of Desdae. Despite the college’s celibacy rule, he has a rela
An inventive modern fantasy from a promising first time author. Nerdisms like invented languages…especially the invented slang (I tell you authors be wary of its use…hard to ever take seriously). Beautiful elevated language which occasionally clunks but usually is a thick stew that pulls back for intimate characters moments. Intimacy and excess, too much and not enough of something and it stumbled in the initial school sequences. Like the high language as it provides a beautiful feeling of other ...more
Dec 03, 2013 Beth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While the fantastical elements are interesting, the world building my kind of complex, what it didn't have was a character I cared about. I read three chapters, but only because I forced myself to do so. The first two chapters dealt far too much on the relationship of two characters and how much they would sacrifice to "be together" making some of the most ridiculous and often juvenile choices. The other major issue I had was the made up languages. I don't have anything against made up languages ...more
Jul 19, 2014 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's rare to see someone get the New Weird tone right. It's not about transgressive body squick and creepy monsters (although those never hurt); it's the modernist tone taken to fantasy. Technologies of magic, bureaucracy of necromancy, financial transactions of the soul. Mixed metaphors that turn unexpectedly literal. Set it in this world and you get Matthew Swift; invent a new world and you have Mieville. (We will discuss Max Gladstone at another time.)

This book gets the tone right, but the st
Jun 07, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anthony Huso’s debut novel The Last Page is certainly a tough one. Highly original and rife with elements of the weird it is a fantasy novel quite unlike any I have ever read. The blurb on the book from Glen Cook mentions a link to “science fantasy” and that comparison is not too far off base. The Last Page is a novel unlike anything on the market today; an important distinction since its unique style and willingness to borrow conventions from outside the typical fantasy genre called to mind the ...more
Jun 02, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook
Anthony Huso’s debut novel The Last Page is certainly a tough one. Highly original and rife with elements of the weird it is a fantasy novel quite unlike any I have ever read. The blurb on the book from Glen Cook mentions a link to “science fantasy” and that comparison is not too far off base. The Last Page is a novel unlike anything on the market today; an important distinction since its unique style and willingness to borrow conventions from outside the typical fantasy genre called to mind the ...more
Seregil of Rhiminee
Jun 16, 2012 Seregil of Rhiminee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Before I say anything about The Last Page, I'll say that it looks like the best debut fantasy books of 2010 come mostly from Tor Books: Blake Charlton's Spellwright is a fantastic traditional fantasy book, Ian Tregillis' Bitter Seeds is a fascinating alternate history book and now fantasy readers have a chance to read another fine and exciting book, Anthony Huso's The Last Page.

I'm glad that I had a chance to read the advance uncorrected proof of Anthony Huso's The Last Page, because this book i
Heather *live on coffee and flowers*
I won this book through First Reads. I started out really liking this book, as it seemed different than how I usually think of fantasy books, but as I got further into it my feelings became mixed. On one hand I thought some parts were interesting and creative. On the other I thought it was a terribly boring read. I found myself spacing out during long descriptions and half the time I couldn't remember the names of characters or what part they played in the story. Then again, I don't really read ...more
After about 100 pages, nothing in this novel kept me interested.

Oh, the writing style is good. The descriptions spot on and the world-building well done. However, the characters aren’t compelling enough to raise my curiosity and the plot plods along at its own slow pace.

Nothing really new to be found here, but no horrible missteps either.

But then here’s the true reason I stopped reading: I put the book aside and totally forgot about it for a week. That’s a good enough sign for me to move on.
Oct 17, 2014 Rhia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It starts wonderfully and the first third of the book kept me enthralled.

(I've rated it 2 stars after much consideration but wish I were able to give it 2.5)

Unfortunately I found the middle of the book quite tiresome. Too many questions without any answers and far too much politics for my liking.

The end of the book was fairly brilliant and more like what I had been expecting from the story when I first picked up the book, it's a shame the story takes so long to get there.

I really enjoyed Sena'
Jul 13, 2014 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got distracted somewheres about a third of the way through this book, usually a sure sign that I'm not that into it. (Especially when the distraction is a David Eddings series that I've re-read probably a dozen times.) However, I got back to it and persevered through to the end. Anthony Huso created a very imaginative world, peopled with erratically brilliant, well-rounded and -defined characters. Sadly, I found it challenging to engage in the world.
I count three overarching plots in the book
Dec 28, 2013 Tyronne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading the blurb accompanying the book, I started reading this book expecting a fairly standard set of fantasy tropes involving battles, magic and all-overcoming shiny heroes.

Instead, I found a brilliant combination of steampunk, a pseudo scientific system of (math? magic? the distinction blurs), and characters sketched out in shades of grey, who are partly victims of circumstance and other powers.

World building is an aspect that often makes the difference between good and great fantasy
Matthew White
Jun 08, 2015 Matthew White rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book is moderately interesting. The characters lack any motivation and just seem to act as the plot needs them to. The book suffers from one central flaw. The high king should just abdicate. He doesn't want to be king. He isn't good at it. The challenger is a better leader, a war hero, and fairly popular. Why not just avoid all the horrible suffering portrayed in this book by the king negotiating a peace that allows him and his woman to retire to a university in a neutral country? There is ...more
Aug 27, 2014 Muwaffaq rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A book of two halves with a consistent problem throughout. The beginning of the book and perhaps first half were actually quite good but boy is the ending a letdown. In general the language is unnecessarily complex and the pseudo magic scientific descriptions are cryptic and add little to the story. What I liked was the initial development of the two protagonists - they were interesting and compelling. Even the initial plot was interesting......the language and the lack of a decent denouement ki ...more
Jun 04, 2015 Josh rated it did not like it
The Last Page is a COLD novel. That's the sense I got from practically The First Page of The Last Page (couldn't resist). Everything about it is cold. Even the red-hot lovers that are the central characters are just cold people.

Anthony Huso does his best to not let the reader in. It's like he thinks that by making his world inaccessible to the reader that he's more likely to be seen as a genius. And he might be, by some. I'm reminded of Neil Gaiman and Stephen Brust's metaphor for writing. If yo
Nov 14, 2014 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dark and disturbing, this tale unfortunately strains under the weight of its own density. The story itself is grand and sweeping, but too large in scope and badly paced. The book drags at the beginning, then races along at a frenetic speed to a somewhat dissatisfying conclusion.

The characters are impressively flawed, but suffer from an ambivalence that can be expected to pass on to the reader.

The language can be jarring. It tries to be immersive through the use of bizarre characters to convey
Anna N.
Aug 15, 2014 Anna N. rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 05, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
(3.5 stars)

(originally reviewed on Starmetal Oak Reviews)

I’m not sure where to start with this one. There’s a lot going on in The Last Page. Let me start by saying I didn’t expect it to be this kind of fantasy, one with very dark magic, zeppelins, industrialization and politics. Huso really takes plenty of time developing his world and setting up the stakes for the story. Not a whole lot of the novel was spent directly on the main plot – that of the civil war within Stonehold and how its king,
Feb 10, 2011 Sarabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up, thinking it was a high fantasy, because it had garnered so many good reviews; but what I got was a sort of mix of high fantasy, steam punk, and romance – which ended up being fine by me. What swept me up and kept me turning pages was the exquisite detail and haunting descriptions that the author somehow made beautiful and horrific at the same time, when describing an underground train tunnel he both entices and revolts; “cones of intense white revealed patches of crud-caked blo ...more
Feb 15, 2015 Sue CCCP rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-written, dnf
My full review: http://coffeecookiesandchilipeppers.b...

This book is bursting with imagination and originality, combining strange and unusual magic systems with steampunk technology and political intrigue. This all sounds very promising and rather refreshing as a change form the more typical fantasy offerings, but somehow it fails to gel into a cohesive novel.

I had several problems with my attempt to read this book, but I think the biggest is that there was far too little exposition for me actua
Michael Richardson
This book was a mixed bag for me. I really enjoyed some aspects, but many others ultimately seemed like failed experiments to me.

The story has two protagonists, and effectively two different plotlines. The plotline regarding Caliph Howl, a young king, was quite enjoyable - it has political intrigue, war and the moral decisions that go into it, and a look into a unique city and the technology behind it. The other plotline, involving Sena the witch, is confusing, unrelatable, and in my opinion sho
Dec 31, 2012 drey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2012-reads
I had really high hopes for The Last Page – it’s a steampunk-ish novel set in a fantasy world where would-be kings fight over a throne, witches practice magic and deception in addition to assassination, and the High King doesn’t really want to be High King. But while I did like Caliph Howl (the High King), I couldn’t get into the story. I had to make myself pick it up and keep on reading, mostly because I didn’t want to be caught unawares when I read The Black Bottle… I guess that’s the downside ...more
Steven Turner
The Last Page is Anthony Huso’s debut novel. It is an Epic Fantasy novel but is full of a Steampunk feel that translates well. There is a lot of magic in the story but it feels more scientific than mystical. The technology seems to be driven by a combination of magic and mechanization. These concepts really work off each other in a cohesive flow that just goes together.
The story centers on the characters of Caliph Howl, the Duchy of Stonehold’s new High King and Sena, a Shradnae witch who is als
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Anthony Huso lives in Cedar Park, Texas. The Last Page is his first novel.

Anthony in his own words:
Anthony_PhotoKnowing that a B.A. in English wasn’t likely to land him a good-paying job, Anthony did the only thing he could think of: he got the degree as quickly and cheaply as he could.
Having dreamt of being an author since age eight, he reveled in his classes until June of 1996 when, after three
More about Anthony Huso...

Other Books in the Series

Caliph Howl (2 books)
  • Black Bottle

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