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Last Call

(Fault Lines #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  5,609 ratings  ·  437 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 April 1st 1992)
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Tedb0t Fuck this bizarre Puritanism that conceptualizes "cleanliness" as "without sex" and yet gives extreme violence a free pass. Real, human sex can be the…moreFuck this bizarre Puritanism that conceptualizes "cleanliness" as "without sex" and yet gives extreme violence a free pass. Real, human sex can be the cleanest and most beautiful part of a real, human existence.(less)

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4.07  · 
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 ·  5,609 ratings  ·  437 reviews

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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 21, 2011 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
Jun 09, 2008 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
I wanted to like this book much more than I did—there was much in it that appealed to me, but as with Powers’ The Anubis Gates, I found myself somewhat underwhelmed. Much of this reaction will be due to my lack of familiarity with both tarot and (especially) poker. I fooled around with tarot cards in my late 20s, but never really committed myself to learning the art. And I think the kids at the back of the school bus tried to teach me poker during my high school years, but that was many decades ...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
Jason Pettus
Now that I'm no longer professionally obligated to review 200 contemporary novels each year as part of running the CCLaP website, I've been using 2018 to indulgently make my way through the complete works of a number of authors who I've always wanted to be completists of; and one of those authors is Tim Powers, who has gotten famous over the years for blending multiple types of genres into "New Weird" tales about secret histories that are taking place around us in plain sight. I started with his ...more
Pete Williams
Nov 18, 2007 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 09, 2008 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 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
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 (
$0.99 on Amazon: August 9, 2016.

Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. Many of Powers' familiar obsessions are on display: a drunk loser of a protagonist, a villain chasing immortality by possessing other people's bodies, and a magic system that blends pagan, occult, and Christian elements into a weird hash. Yet, the critic was correct who claimed Powers never writes the same book twice. This particular magic system, involving Vegas-style card games played with antique decks of Tarot cards, is dazzlingly original. One example: a magic poker chip trans ...more
Cat Rambo
Oct 10, 2010 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.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Se antoja todo un acierto por parte de Gigamesh el recuperar esta novela, publicada por primera vez en España con el título de "La última partida" en 1993 por Martínez Roca, y hacerlo con una nueva traducción que —sin desmerecer la previa— mejora la experiencia lectora, y el renovado título de "Última ronda". Es cierto que veinticinco años dan para cambiar muchas perspectivas, pero esta parece ser una de esas novelas que han mejorado con el paso del tiempo o con la adquisición de un mayor nú
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tim Powers sorprende con su increíble trabajo realizado en Última ronda al entrelazar el mundo del póker con lo sobrenatural y el esoterismo mientras hila su historia utilizando la leyenda del rey pescador. Un libro inolvidable que aunque ha tenido algunas partes que se me han hecho algo pesadas, me ha fascinado de principio a fin.

oguz kaan
*Balıkçı Kral hikayesine aşina olan arkadaşlar için neredeyse genel hatlarıyla kitabın büyük kısmını özetliyor. Ufak bir araştırma size çok değerli bilgiler verebilir:)

** Son Çağrı, oğluna babalık yapamayan bir adam, kendi kanından olmayana babalık yapan bir adam, yetim bir kadın ve erkeğin, tarot kartları, ruhlar, sonsuz yaşam, Las Vegas ile iç içe geçmiş hikayesiydi. Kitabın açılış sahnesi vahşi ve kanlıydı. Devamında ortalık sakinleştiğinde merkeze doğru bir kovalamaca sekansına dönüyor. Kova
Jul 08, 2016 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
Aug 17, 2008 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
Kayıp Rıhtım
Roman aksiyon dolu geçmişe bir bakış atıp bize neler olduğuna dair kısa bilgiler verdikten sonra normal tarihi akışına geri dönüyor. Ancak bela geliyorum demez. Scott Crane yıllar önce -üvey babasının onu, “Yapma etme oğlum,” diye uyarmasına rağmen- bir poker oyunu oynar ve bu poker oyunu aracılığı ile şeytani babası onun bedenini üstlenir. Scott oyunu ve parayı kazandığını düşünerek kendine bir hayat kurar. Ancak babası üstlenme dediği bu oyun sayesinde diğer insanların bedenlerini üstlenerek, ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una montaña rusa de personajes y arquetipos jungianos cruzados con dioses de diferentes panteones y figuras del Tarot: mezcla explosiva donde las haya. La documentación del autor es, como acostumbra, magnífica, y el desarrollo de la historia es una locura muy bien llevada hasta un final que, si acaso, peca de sencillo.

Recomendación: ir apuntando en un cuaderno adjunto quién es cada personaje, con qué facción se alinea, dónde está en cada momento y en quién o qué podría convertirse. De cualquier
Nov 15, 2008 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,
Nov 14, 2014 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
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."
"I stayed up late playing poker with tarot cards. I got a full house and eight people died."

Stephen Wright didn't mean that joke as a review of this book, but it works as one.

Read twice in 2008.
Sam Reader
Mar 16, 2013 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 des
Michelle Lowe
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Scott Crane has lived as normally as a son of a bad king, acholic can be for years after he unknowingly gave up something vitally important in a waylay card game called Assumption Poker. The surprise is that in time, those who “win” in the game will eventually have their bodies taken over by the player who assumed it. And the player who got Crane is none other than the assassin of one Bugsy Siegel, former Fisher King. Georges Leon wants to be king and take Siegel’s crown and castle that is the f ...more
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, rating-r
I have wild respect for Tim Powers as an author. His books are complex, effortless blends of rigorous historical research with wild fantasy speculation which have always inspired me, and they contain complex webs of symbolism which would be postmodern if they weren't clearly tethered to a central meaning (here, for example, a sword presented by a turtle from Asian mythology in the shape of a poker chip turns into the wafer from the Eucharist and is broken and eaten to allow the moon goddess's da ...more
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
(I made a playlist with songs to go with the book:

A Tarot card game where people's bodies are the stakes (called Assumption) forever changes Scott Crane's life. The Fisher King needs new bodies every 20 years to occupy, and obtains them through a magical Tarot card deck, playing Assumption over tamed water (Lake Mead). The stakes have been raised (and weirdly altered) by the fact that Scott Crane is also the biological son of the Fisher King (unknown to
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, supernatural
‘Last Call’ and sequels were recommended by someone on twitter for having an interesting system of magic. That it most definitely does - the magic is based on archetypes inhabiting tarot and playing cards. This reminded me of the sentient, malevolent tarot deck in Lucifer, Vol. 1: Devil in the Gateway. The plot centres on the struggle to become Fisher King, ruler of Las Vegas. What I couldn’t understand was why anyone would want that crown, as Las Vegas comes off as a nightmarish hell place. Far ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Fault Lines (3 books)
  • Expiration Date (Fault Lines, #2)
  • Earthquake Weather (Fault Lines, #3)
“You know, my Friends, how long since in my House For a new Marriage I did make Carouse: Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed, And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse. —The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, EDWARD J. FITZGERALD translation” 1 likes
“Somebody’s killing the moon, the goddess; some woman has apparently taken on the—what would the word be—goddess-hood and somebody’s killing her. I think it’s too late for her, and I don’t know the circumstances, but she’s got a child, a little girl. An infant, in fact, to judge by how close Venus was to the moon when we saw it.” Here” 1 likes
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