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Last Call (Fault Lines #1)

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  4,811 Ratings  ·  345 Reviews
Set in Las Vegas, Last Call concerns the fate of Scott Crane, former professional gambler, recent widower, blind in one eye--and also the lost natural son of the man who is determined to kill him. In this novel, Crane is forced to resume the high-stakes game of a lifetime--and wager it all.
Paperback, 544 pages
Published December 1st 1996 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
Jun 30, 2011 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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 Schwent
Feb 01, 2011 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-weird, 2010
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
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
The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon)
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
Sh3lly ✨ Bring on the Weird ✨
$0.99 on Amazon: August 9, 2016.

Pete Williams
Nov 30, 2007 Pete Williams rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 14, 2008 Adam rated it really liked it
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
Jul 30, 2007 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 17, 2008 Peter rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 12, 2016 Richard rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Richard by: Lori @
Shelves: fantasy
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,
Jan 04, 2015 Carly rated it liked it
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
Aug 08, 2016 Josh rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Takes place in a universe riding on an underlying magical force that expresses itself in things like playing cards, and especially tarot cards. Want to know what kind of day you're going to have? Deal yourself a hand and see what comes up. So if you live in a world where cards and dice really matter and really tell you something, Las Vegas is a nexus where a lot of serious stuff goes down, so naturally that's where the bulk of the story plays out.

I generally get huffy when stories lean on cliche
Sam Reader
Mar 16, 2013 Sam Reader rated it it was amazing

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
Dec 26, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it
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
William Thomas
Mar 06, 2015 William Thomas rated it it was amazing
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
There were so many ways that this book was amazing.

The premise itself, that there is a secret magical kingship of the American West, is intriguing and fun.

Powers' writing is powerful (hah!), spare and beautiful. He had a solid handle of literary devices like foreshadowing, allusions, self references, irony, etc.

The characters were all well developed. Strange, broken, messy wonderful humans.

The inclusion of concepts from psychology, mythology and folklore was excellent. Close enough to real world
Bob Hamzik
Aug 01, 2013 Bob Hamzik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, although I did find the ending a little bit too predictable. If not for that, this would be a definite 5 star book. Don't get me wrong, this is still a great book and i highly recommend it. It just seemed to me that everything was tied up a little too neatly when all was said and done, A lot of comparisons have been made in other reviews between Last Call and American Gods and there are some definite similarities. Personally I liked Last Call better than American Gods as I fou ...more
Melissa McShane
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."
Sep 28, 2007 Betsey rated it it was amazing
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.
Cat Rambo
Oct 10, 2010 Cat Rambo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fantasy readers
One of my favorite, favorite books of all time. I love the way the Tarot and the Arthurian stuff is used, as well as the Las Vegas setting and its ghosts. This is a book I reread once a decade or so. The best of Power's (many) good books.
Kate Sherrod
Mar 24, 2013 Kate Sherrod rated it it was amazing
"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
Sep 25, 2016 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Last Call hits so many sweet spots for me that it was pretty much a given I would love it. It's got the who Jungian archetype thing going on, plus a great Las Vegas setting that's strangely compelling to me. But perhaps best of all is how incredibly well plotted it is. The book has at least half a dozen different threads running through it, sometimes going off in different directions, sometimes crossing, and ultimately all coming together. Powers has real talent for knowing how to spend exactly ...more
Jul 11, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
Review from TenaciousReader:

3.5/5 stars

The Last Call is a unique fantasy where magic lies within cards. It is about fate and destiny as told by the cards. When you play with others, you also have the ability to control and trade your destiny in life through the game at hand. One player has even found a way to win people’s bodies for his own devices through these ‘games’. Pretty much, the cards are much larger than anything you would think of as a game. Yo
Sep 25, 2016 Bibliophile rated it liked it
Intriguing concept and lots of entertaining action, but I couldn't care less about the characters. This pretty much sums up my feelings on every Tim Powers novel I've ever read. I keep reading them, because how could I resist magic Tarot poker & chaos theory, but I'm always somewhat disappointed because I want to love them instead of just liking them well enough.
Juan Raffo
Oct 24, 2012 Juan Raffo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"—¿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
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
Jan 11, 2016 Dustpuppy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 17, 2011 Patrick rated it did not like it
Several people of good judgment have told me to read Tim Powers, and after reading this I understand the regard that Mr. Powers has earned among fellow writers, but of all the books to which he's put his name, I suspect this was the wrong one to use as a calling card.

His dark tale of a card game gone wrong and a cross-country race against time with nebulously-defined redemption on the line left me cold. Cards are trying to make themselves whole, or demigods are trying to make themselves whole,
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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)

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