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Craft Sequence #4

Last First Snow

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The fourth novel set in the compellingly modern fantasy world of the Craft Sequence

Forty years after the God Wars, Dresediel Lex bears the scars of liberation—especially in the Skittersill, a poor district still bound by the fallen gods' decaying edicts. As long as the gods' wards last, they strangle development; when they fail, demons will be loosed upon the city. The King in Red hires Elayne Kevarian of the Craft firm Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao to fix the wards, but the Skittersill's people have their own ideas. A protest rises against Elayne's work, led by Temoc, a warrior-priest turned community organizer who wants to build a peaceful future for his city, his wife, and his young son.

As Elayne drags Temoc and the King in Red to the bargaining table, old wounds reopen, old gods stir in their graves, civil blood breaks to new mutiny, and profiteers circle in the desert sky. Elayne and Temoc must fight conspiracy, dark magic, and their own demons to save the peace—or failing that, to save as many people as they can.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published July 14, 2015

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About the author

Max Gladstone

145 books2,124 followers
Max Gladstone is the author of the Craft Sequence: THREE PARTS DEAD, TWO SERPENTS RISE, FULL FATHOM FIVE, and most recently, LAST FIRST SNOW. He's been twice nominated for the John W Campbell Best New Writer award, and nominated for the XYZZY and Lambda Awards.

Max has taught in southern Anhui, wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat, and been thrown from a horse in Mongolia. Max graduated from Yale University, where he studied Chinese.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 389 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,516 reviews7,719 followers
April 2, 2016

It’s not a kissing book.

I feel I have to mention that because both people who saw me reading it at work said the title sounded like a romance. Since one was reading A Game of Thrones, I was a bit surprised at her lack of knowledge about Gladstone’s standout fantasy series, The Craft Sequence. It deserves far more recognition among fantasy and sci-fi fans than it currently receives. My best guess is that Gladstone is such an unusual writer, he travels above and below the average radar. The series has a setting that feels vaguely urban fantasy, language that reminds me of Kay, and complicated concepts found more often in conceptual science fiction. Honestly, his writing hits so many of my satisfaction points that I’m resisting skipping my review in favor of starting a series re-read.

“There would always be a spider who bargained with a fly, there would always be two sisters who played ball with demons, there would always be monsters who tried to eat the sun, even if marrow and majesty seeped out from the myths.“

It is a book about relationships in the most philosophical sense of the word, the ways of faith, money, fidelity and love and the agreements made between them. Oh, and a bit of revolution, urban decay, gentrification and the aftermath of war. One of the main characters is Temoc, warrior high priest of a god banished from the city during the god wars forty years ago. Without sacrifice and followers–a contract of belief, if you will–the gods lie dormant, and weak. Temoc has been practicing a peaceful way of life, living in the Skittersill district with his academic wife and his pre-teen son Caleb. It also follows Elayne, a Craftswoman, magically skilled in a secular form of power that has risen to prominence after the god wars.

In the poor district of the city, the Skittersill, god-created protections are decaying, leaving the district vulnerable from fire, pestilence and disease. Elayne is trying to negotiate an acceptable contract between the Red King Consolidated and the merchants that want to buy and raze the Skittersill. Elayne has a eye out for trouble and tries to warn both parties: “‘You’ve not accounted for all the factors.’ ‘Between the King in Red and Tan Batac’s merchant collective, we control property use rights in the Skittersill. Who else is there?’” How about the residents who want to prevent their homes from becoming unaffordable? Temoc becomes involved by believers in the district, and by his old enmity with the Red King. The powers that come from his belief could be all that stands against a successful resolution–or that creates one.

If you’ve been following the series to this point, you’ll recognize both Temoc and Caleb, a good ten years earlier than the events in Two Serpents Rise, (my review) and Elayne from Three Parts Dead (my review). It is worth taking a moment to admire Gladstone’s writing genius. These people are going to survive, because we’ve seen them in their future, yet the certainty does not lessen the tension of Last First Snow. I’d compare it to hearing a story from my father about Vietnam: I know the ending–I know he’s here, and the general kind of person he is now, but that doesn’t make hearing about the experience less tense or less interesting (insert carol’s rant about the concept of spoilers).

Narrative is third person omniscient focused on a handful of characters; Temoc, the priest; Elayne, the Craftswoman; Chel, a dockhand in the Skittersill, with the occasional thoughts from a few others. Elayne is particularly admirable as she tried to find the balance between legal responsibilities and ethical principles. As a Craftswoman, she’s destined for existence beyond the flesh, but instead of giving her arrogance, it leaves her grasping at compassion: “Elayne was still human enough to give the other woman space, to let her stand and watch the blood and read the letter with her hand clenched around the railing. Elayne was still human enough to leave.”

Both Elayne and Temoc fought in the wars forty years ago, and both reflect on their reactions now versus their actions then. In some ways, it is a book grounded on the dilemmas that come with maturity; once you have lost the righteousness of youthful activism, how do you navigate the obligations of real life–family, profession–with passion, belief and ethics? Temoc, technically part of the ‘losing’ side of the war, recognizes that the history of a place he has known intimately has grown into a modern presence: “Temoc had not left his city. His city left him, replaced by another. He been born scant miles from the spot, yet felt a half a world away from everything he knew.”

When the scale is a revolution, it’s easy to lose humanity, and perspective. A little judicious humor occasionally lightens the mood:

“Air filters be damned: in Dresediel Lex, to run was to invite the city into your lungs, and the city was a drunken guest who like to trash the place.”

“Elayne briefly considered gutting the man, and decided against it. In her experience spraying a Court hallway with blood and other humors was rarely a good idea. That one time in Iskar had been a special case.”

There are a few shortcomings, but honestly, I think that’s because I’m comparing Gladstone to the greats in literary fantasy. No mere beach read, this one engaged my brain as much as my heart, and I was vaguely anxious as the events cascaded.

Immensely engrossing, what I really wanted after finishing was to go home and read the series from the beginning again, just so I could see the echos from Temoc, Elayne and the events of the Skittersill reverberate through the earlier books. At least my Game of Thrones friend related to that feeling.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,911 followers
February 9, 2017
I'm sure I'm not the only one to feel that this book doesn't really take off until negotiations turn to crap, but I'll say it anyway. :) The book REALLY takes off after the assassination attempt and that's also the spark that turns all the powers in the city upon each other. The Soul-Rich versus the Soul-Poor.

And it's not easy to negotiate with ourselves, as readers, just who is bad and who is good. It's very complicated, but more than that: it's vivid. We start out ten years before the events of Two Serpents Rise and we get the back story for Tamoc and what he did to Caleb. We get the re-introduction of all the gods into the city, too, and the slight diminishing of the King in Red's power. (Or it's enhancement, if you consider the return of the gods.) But either way, this is the book that changes the world. (Maybe not as much as 40 years prior with the war against the Gods, perhaps, but this is the book we've got.) :)

I'm continually amazed that the wide tapestry of the story. Not just the individual novels that are fantastic in themselves, but the over-story that encompasses the whole world and all of the events.

I've seen this before and have told myself that a full re-reading of this series is absolutely in order, but it's even worse now. The chronological order of books is all over the place. The numbers in the titles tell us that much. This is the earliest but its also the fourth book in the series.

That's fine. I actually prefer it that way. I love having already gotten to know and love so many of the personas that have center stage in this enormous mindfuck of a civil war fought in the skies, of gods and mortals and necromancers bloodying the streets of this oddly modern and recognizable town very much like our own.

Seriously, this writer is amazing. I'm still blown a way. :)

And yes, I probably will jump on a chance to re-read it all. I'll even do it again in publication order, too. The threads that keep intertwining are pretty awesome. :)

This fantasy series is rapidly becoming one of my absolute favorites. :)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Seth Dickinson.
Author 41 books1,461 followers
July 1, 2015
We used to tell a lot of stories about gods. They got drunk, cheated on each other, held grudges, and fought long ruinous wars over small things. They had our problems, except bigger.

Dresediel Lex used to have gods. Now Red King Consolidated runs the city, a necrocapitalist water consortium helmed by a skeleton, staffed by wizard lawyers called Craftspeople, and dead-set on making everything better for everyone (as long it's net profitable). If you get in their way, well — we'd say gods help you, but the Red King killed them all.

Red King Consolidated wants to make the Skittersill better. Don't say gentrification, please, that's an ugly word. The old neighborhood needs investment, development, and infrastructure — a chance to join the modern world. The only problem is that the people living there refuse to get out of the way.

It's starting to look a lot like a protest. And in Dresediel Lex, the will of the people is as real as fire.

Dresediel Lex has our problems, except brighter. Wardens on rainbow-winged snakes keep watch on camps of protesters struggling to get over their differences and speak as one. Lawyers with immortality contracts and contacts in Hell slug tequila and complain about their jobs on top of eighty-story step pyramids. The last priest of the old gods fights to keep his congregation together in the face of modern life — while trying to raise a son who can thrive in the new world.

It's not an easy book. In here, as in the real world, it feels sometimes like the only thing little people can do is jump into the gears of the big machine. And in here, as with us, people struggle to find the line between order and tyranny, or faith and fanaticism, or change-by-negotiation and change-by-struggle.

If we all sit down together and say our piece, can we find a solution we agree on? And if we fail this time, if it all ends up like a war, does that mean we've failed forever? Are we just going to keep fighting this thing again and again until the stars go out?

Dresediel Lex tastes like corn tortillas and dust. It sounds like man-sized dragonflies and chanted slogans. It looks like Aztec gods dreaming Blade Runner. Everyone's trying their best to make the world better. They just have different ideas of what 'better' should look like, who should be in charge of it, and who should pay the blood and money it takes to get there.

You can read some truth in here.

This was my first Craft book. I'll read the rest.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,008 reviews2,598 followers
March 8, 2016
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/09/28/b...

The Craft Sequence is unlike many conventional fantasy series in that each book can be read as a stand-alone, their stories ping-ponging unapologetically all over time and place, focusing on different characters. It makes it an unusual, albeit very special series. That said, many of these characters and events connect to each other, and there is a clear advantage to reading these books in the order in which they are published.

Last First Snow, for instance, is technically a prequel, taking place before the other three books, but it still felt like I was reaching a “crossroads” of sorts, on account of some of the familiar faces. The two main protagonists, Elayne and Temoc, are characters we’ve met before, though both appeared in their respective books in a supporting capacity only. It is also only forty years after the God Wars, and the city of Dresediel Lex still feels its effects, not least of all the poor population in the district of Skittersill, constrained by the old gods’ wards. Elayne Kevarian, a craftswoman, necromancer, and lawyer (not necessarily in that order) is retained by the King in Red to repair the wards, but the people of Skittersill rise up against her efforts, led by the warrior-priest Temoc.

Something had to be done, so Elayne organizes a meeting between all the parties in the hopes of negotiating a deal. After long days of bargaining back and forth and against all odds, an agreement is finally reached. However, no sooner had the ink dried on the contract than an assassination attempt throws all possibility of peace out the window. An all-out battle ensues. Gods and mortals, law and tradition, magic and reason, duty and family – it all comes to a head as both Elayne and Temoc must decide what they fight for.

In spite of all the cool ideas and fiery clashes, so far in the series Last First Snow was probably the toughest book for me to get into. Each installment has focused on a different theme, and something about this one just didn’t quite capture me right off the bat. We got started on a lethargic note, establishing the situation and mood in the Dresediel Lex. I didn’t feel what we were supposed to feel: a growing pressure, a sense of a city on the brink of losing control, the citizenry holding its collective breath. I don’t think I felt much of a connection to the people of Skittersill, not if I spent half the book actually rooting for the King in Red – whom, I might add, is not the villain in my eyes. In truth, there are no villains in this story. It also means no good guys either, but more on that later.

In essence, it felt like Max Gladstone tried to save all the good stuff for the second half of the novel. It wasn’t until the negotiations went sideways that I found myself full engaged; those scenes following the assassination attempt featured some of the best writing I’ve seen from Gladstone in this series so far. Once those floodgates were open, the story became more interesting, but still only because the main characters’ potentials were unlocked and not because I felt much for the nameless, faceless crowds of Skitterskill. Bottom line, Last First Snow is all about Elayne and Temoc, both of whom valiantly propped up the narrative.

Let’s start with Elayne Kevarian. You don’t mess with her. For readers who’ve been following this series since the beginning, that’s a lesson we learned early. There’s a certain satisfaction seeing her take center stage in this book, because though we’ve already taken her measure, there are still clearly so many ways in which she can surprise you. While Elayne remains one of my favorite Craft Sequence personalities, Temoc on the other hand stirred up plenty of mixed emotions. Seeing him with his young son Caleb, who will grow up to be the main character in Two Serpents Rise, was both a treat and a dreadful reminder of how things will turn out. Temoc���s personal journey in Last First Snow puts him in the difficult situation of choosing between two things that mean everything to him. Is he right for choosing one over the other? Just as difficult as it is to call the King in Red a villain, I too find it hard to get a bead on Temoc; for all the reasons there are to support him, I can probably find just as many to condemn him.

I enjoy books that throw me curve balls. Last First Snow by Max Gladstone is such a book. Is it my favorite of the series? Probably not. Still, as I say, there’s no such thing as a bad Craft Sequence book, just that some are better than others. Taking place before all the other books, Last First Snow was perhaps disadvantaged from the start, because the future is known for a lot of the characters. We already know who will make it out alive, how events will come to pass, how certain relationships will play out. For a book that’s mostly for filling the gaps in history though, it paints a rather fulfilling picture of two important characters who have thus far been on the periphery of our attention. I still love this series, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Profile Image for Fiona.
1,209 reviews222 followers
March 9, 2023
I was so excited for the new Craft book I decided it was time to reread the series in chronological order, rather than publication. I'm sure I'll get to it sometime next year - but in the meantime, getting to read this book again was phenomenal. I'm genuinely excited to get to the rest. (Also, finished the reread two years to the day from the last read. Accidental precision!)

Another absolutely brilliant and completely different entry in this series, Last First Snow is the earliest - and almost the last - entry in the series. Makes sense? Excellent!

We're back in Dresediel Lex, back with characters familiar from Two Serpents Rise, 10 years before we met them last. It makes for the perfect recipe for dread - I know something happens, I know who we get to see ten years later, but not how we get there or what happens along the way.

Gladstone found quite a different tone with this book, though there's certainly been similar echoes in parts of previous books. It's a little quieter but inversely a little more directly critical of social issues - there's less in the way of showing us new parts of the world, and more expanding on previously explored territory, adding new dimensions to familiar ground.

This really impressed me - this whole series has, but the author just keeps building on that with every book I read. Onwards!
Profile Image for Netanella.
4,216 reviews12 followers
March 20, 2023
The Craft Sequence is rapidly becoming one of my favorite fantasy series in the last few years. The world-building is amazing - I think I like that more than most of the characters, with the exception of course being the Craftswoman Elayne. Gladstone easily creates a modern fantasy setting peopled with gods, priests and acolytes, sorcerers who practice law and necromancy, common citizens, skeleton kings. This story focuses on Elayne and Temoc as they try to save a poor district of Dresediel Lex from gentrification, now that the gods of the city have been killed in the God Wars of forty years prior. Aside from the political machinations of the plot, and the familial and personal dramas, Gladstone creates a fantasy world based on Aztec history, with flying feathered serpents, gods nourished by blood sacrifice, and priests with ritual scarification.

I'm enjoying the talent of this author, and the creativeness of this world, and I look forward to more books in the series!
Profile Image for Nathan.
399 reviews123 followers
July 26, 2015
Fantasy Review Barn

Have you started reading the Craft Sequence yet? Because if not you are now four books behind in what is probably the best series running under the speculative fiction label. I come to this conclusion slowly. I have not personally five starred any of the previous outings despite finding them all highly enjoyable. And here is a spoiler for you; I will be giving Last First Snow four stars instead of five at the end of the review.

Because what we have here is a series that is greater than the sum of its parts. This is high praise because each outing of this series has been unique and wonderful, brimming with a creative setting unlike any other and dealing with a cast of characters that hasn’t disappointed throughout. The design and outlining that has gone into crafting (bad pun) this series to date is nothing short of exceptional. Because while up to now we have seen plenty of overlapping the first three books we complete standalones in a timeline we could only guess at. With Last First Snow it is all coming together AND continuing to operate as a complete stand alone.

For the first time the main protagonists are people we have spent serious time with before though neither were the main characters in their previous appearance. A craft lawyer (aka magical necromancer who operates within some rules) and a former priest of now dead gods find their paths crossed during land negotiations. That’s right, negotiations over land. That is what this book is about. Except of course, it is so much more. Because it is a battle of classes, a battle of gods, a fight about tradition (which means live sacrifice) and of course—a battle of law. When lawyers can toss magical shields, priests can take a hands on approach to violence, and a skeleton represents the ruling class anything can happen.

What makes this book great is the same thing that has powered the three previous entries. It is fast paced and unique. It makes seemingly mundane details matter; particularly when the very base of the story involves a common land dispute. When the fantasy aspects really start to show their face they turn things up to eleven. And the strength of the characters is second to none. This is a world without villains but full of people to love and hate. Everyone has motivations that are understandable; some selfish and some less so but all very human.

But what makes this a great series is the way everything is starting to come together. It is no secret that the chronology of this series is represented by the numbers in the title. With this forth book being the first some questions are being answered. Questions I didn’t know I had. Characters are fleshed out, the land’s history is becoming clearer, even the nature of the craft that we have seen used since the beginning is becoming more clear. Context we didn’t need yet craved is being provided book but increasingly good book.

This may be the best book of the series. It may not, I seem to be saying that after each new outing. Certainly my own opinion is suspect because I am a sucker for books that hint at class warfare. And let’s give some credit for have a likeable character involved in human sacrifice (something I have only seen in Aliette de Bodard’s historical fantasy series before). Not that I am a proponent of human sacrifice but it adds an interesting dynamic in this case.

I ask again. Are you reading the Craft Sequence? Because if it isn’t obvious, I think you should be.

4 Stars

Copy for review provided by publisher.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews256 followers
August 20, 2015
3 Stars

The Last First Snow was a huge disappointment for me. The Craftwork Sequence by Max Gladstone has up to this point been an incredible breath of fresh air. In this series he demonstrates how incredible an adult oriented fantasy can be. Max Gladstone is on top of his game. Each of the books in The Craftwork Sequence is an improvement on the last, with this book being a slight miss. Gladstone is rare in that he wants each book to be able to read alone, even though they are very connected. They take place in the same world and even have some recurring characters. Each of the first three of the Craftwork Sequence explore something different from the next. Book one explores the Craft. Book two the Gods. Book 3, Full Fathom Five explores something that blurs the border between the Gods and the Craft. And finally The Last First Snow is really a book about the Gods and their return.

I never connected with these characters, normally a strong point in all of the previous Gladstone novels. As a result I had a tough time with this book. Sure, it is incredibly written and it takes place in the same world that I have come to love, but it did not provide enough to overcome my disinterest in the characters.

What a shame. I absolutely loved the first three books. Maybe I will have to try this one again at a later time to give it another chance.
Profile Image for John Wiswell.
Author 44 books385 followers
August 21, 2015
The God Wars are over, and the lower classes of Chakal Square sit in protests. The capitalist overlord monsters (literally, the King in Red is a living skeleton who runs a corporation) want to rewrite its laws, including the laws of physics, to prevent any demons from breaking through, but they have to be careful, as the locals getting too upset could wake the ancient gods and split reality open. They must negotiate peace before the crowd's anger itself triggers an apocalypse.

You can't read "___ Square" without thinking of Arab Spring, and Last First Snow's plot is clearly tapping protest culture. Like all Craft books, it's full of neat ideas, and boldly this one diverges from the string of Corporate Thriller-structured stories, trying to do something different, something set in public unrest. Unfortunately, we rarely get a sense of the tenor of crowds beyond them being passive or boiling, and none of the everyday people involved are main characters. Instead we have Elayne, a woman hired by the King in Red for security, and Temoc, a priest and community organizer who explicitly says he's not part of the cause but will be its mouthpiece. Temoc spends more time idly looking at his kid (Caleb, who will grow up to be the main character of Two Serpents Rise) than discussing concerns with the huddled masses, who remain faceless, as though series continuity is forcing them and the important themes out of their own book.

It's not a spoiler to say that this Fantasy negotiation eventually explodes, and it's disappointing, because for all the page-space negotiations get, it never feels like we go deep into them. Scenes keep ending with a point being made and dialogue just starting. There are so many scenes of people worriedly going home, or to alleys, or to camps, and just being nervous. The violence is so obviously coming that, when it comes, the plot feels foregone. We wanted something cleverer than another riot story, even if this one has a cool plasma dragon (and it is a freaking cool plasma dragon).

If buildings burn, I barely know anyone whose life was ruined by it. They had no names, no agency, and barely any presence in a novel that was about the destruction of what they knew. What's left is investment in the main characters to not kill too many of them in the warring streets.

The action is also undercut by this being a prequel to Two Serpents Rise. We know Temoc, Caleb, Elayne, and the King in Red survive; we even know the King in Red stays in power. The world can't actually end. Making the story about those characters doesn't just sideline the protests, but foregrounds conflicts that can only be dramatic if you can suspend how much you know happens after this.

Instead, this stuff fills in series back story, and there's pathos in seeing Temoc fear for his wife and son after his Batman-like holy warrior future in the other novel. There are cool ideas here, like Temoc convincing his blood-thirsty gods to take non-lethal imitation sacrifices. In the big battle that everyone knows is coming, we get a glimpse of how the God Wars had to be fought, and it is fascinatingly complex. It's cool for moments and for explosions, when the prose doesn't struggle.

Because Last First Snow has both the most inspiring and the weakest writing of the series, sometimes both on the same page. Late scenes use so many one-sentence "drama" paragraphs that Michael Crichton would blush; I counted sixteen in just one scene. There's too much emphasis on too many things, until it feels like the brakes are being slammed at every action.

At the same point, as heavy sacrifices are made, Elayne and Temoc have some amazing cognitive experiences, their minds and souls are physically challenged by what's happening. One telepathic event turns Elayne's mind into a montage of life experiences that rock you paragraph by paragraph, and even crumble bits of conventional grammar. Once you get to it, you won't forget it anytime soon.

If you want to know more about Caleb's father and the King in Red's rise after Two Serpents Rise, this is your bag. And if you want an explosive romp through other people's suffering, the back-half of the novel delivers. But having heard the first chapter of Gladstone's next book, I'd say it's more interesting than anything in this one.
Profile Image for Kaa.
560 reviews51 followers
March 9, 2019
What an amazing book. As ever, the world of the Craft Sequence is beautifully drawn and completely fascinating. I enjoyed Elayne's role in Three Parts Dead, but I like her even better in this book as a younger woman growing into her power and making some hard decisions. Fantasy politics are always my jam, and I think Last First Snow does an exceptional job of creating a political story full of people and nuance. There are a few minor things within the book that I don't love, but honestly my biggest disappointment about it is that Two Serpents Rise doesn't do a better job in telling the story of the future of Dresediel Lex - even Temoc is a much more interesting character in this book than in that one.
Profile Image for Pavle.
409 reviews142 followers
February 26, 2018
Ono što čini ovu knjigu (i pretpostavljam serijal) toliko zanimljivim je to što uzima za ozbiljno ’problem magije’ odn. na koji način bi se svet razvio samo kad bi magija postojala. Nema više birokratije – napravi prolaz za magičnu birokratiju! Itd. itd. I to je sve uradjeno na tako organski i zanimljiv način da čak i dosadne delove čini podnošljivim. Plus, tu su uverljivi likovi koji se samomrze kroz debate tipa „tradicija v (kapitalistički) progres“ tako da Gledston ume i da čačne i te neke tzv. ozbiljne teme. Jedino je malo mlak kraj, ali šta je tu je.

Profile Image for Ken Liu.
Author 497 books19.9k followers
July 29, 2015
I blurbed this book:

Brilliant, elegant, epic, astonishing, smart, gritty—that's just the zoning debate that starts the book. Last First Snow is another wondrous visit to the fantastic world of the Craft Sequence whose only flaw is that it is too short.
Profile Image for Javir11.
520 reviews155 followers
April 12, 2019
Le pongo 3 estrellas porque creo que en global es una historia interesante, pero no entiendo porque en España se ha editado desde esta cuarta entrega. Lo sabía al comprarlo que era la 4 entrega, pero me imaginé que no era necesario conocer el contexto previo y Meccccc, error grave.

Creo que en general la ambientación tiene cosas muy buenos, pero al final entre que ciertas cosas se daban por sabidas y que no he terminado de empatizar con los personajes, pues no me he enganchado.

No tengo mucho más que decir, porque mi opinión es poco objetiva debido a lo mucho que me ha molestado el gastarme el dinero en algo que no iba a poder disfrutar al 100%.

Profile Image for The Captain.
1,067 reviews359 followers
October 12, 2018
Ahoy there me mateys! So in previous times, wendy @ thebiliosanctum set me on a series of adventures that led to me reading the first book in The Craft Sequence, three parts dead. I absolutely loved it. This is a review that talks about the fourth published book in the series. Like the others, I read this one without reading the blurb first. Not that would have helped me predicament. No real spoilers aboard but read at yer own peril . . .

So me hearties. I loved this book. But I found when I was readin’ it, something be fishy. Action that was happening in this book seemed to have been discussed in the previous books. I knew it was the correct book in terms of publishing order. But it had been a while since I read book three and me mind be faulty and often drops facts so I was very confused about timelines and such. I knew I was missing something. Eventually, I mentally shrugged and finished this fun tale.

But after I was done, I was even more confused. What in the world was going on? Turns out I can blame all the confusion on the author (more on this below). Arrr! Ye see I was online searching for a recap for full fathom five, the previous book, to help sort things out. I checked out the wiki fandom and some random reviews and was still unclear. So I hopped onto the author’s website. There on “The Craft Sequence” page was a section entitled “What about the chronology.”

Aye matey, what about it? Well, turns out that the publishing order does NOT match the chronology order. Well, shiver me timbers! Apparently the titles hint at the chronology. The books have numbers in their titles. Book four in publishing order is actually book one in chronology. But the books are all meant to be read as standalones even though there be some limited crossover in characters. So does the order in which ye read them matter?

Aye and nay. Ye see the first published book, three parts dead, is the book I read first. And it be me favourite and was a wonderful introduction to the world. I be grateful this was me initial foray into the series. This book, last first snow, is the fourth published book but is set 20 years prior to three parts dead. Is yer noggin’ whirling yet? But this current book is me least favourite of the series so far, even if it happens “first.” In fact, the order in which I like the books is (by publishing order) 1 –> 3 –> 4 –> 2.

Still with me? Now if I had read these books in chronological order then me third favourite (4) would have been read first. And then maybe without knowing how strong the other books were, I wouldn’t have picked up more of the series. And that would have been a shame. At the same time book four confused me because of the jump back in timeline.

Aye, I know I did not read the blurb. But that wouldn’t have helped. There is no indication in the blurb (see below) that this book takes place in an earlier time. And I be sure that the author put clues about time frame into this book. I just missed them. But some of the enjoyment of the book was lightly lessened due to me silly confusion. So the chronological order DID end up being important in the sense of me focus on the book. I wasn’t drawn into the story as deeply as I could have been. I do wish that I would have figured things out sooner.

That said, I always read books in publishing order. I am not sure why that be. The idea of readin’ books in chronological order bothers me.

Side note: Don’t get me started on the order in which the Naria series should be read. I still get angry when I see the box sets “ordered” incorrectly. But I digress . . .

I do know that some members of me crew read things in chronological order. I am not sure if readin’ this series in that order is best. Mehaps some of the crew has opinions on this matter and is up for lively debate on such topics. All I know if that I be glad that I read them in the order I did. Also I be glad that the author issued an apology-of-a-sort on tor.com called “This is How I Numbered My Books and I’m Sorry” where he takes responsibility for the scrambling of me noggin’. And I be grateful that he be crafty enough (hardy har har!) to give me such wonderful readin’ material.

I have been spacing out these books for times where I need a pick-me-up and for when I can savour them. I will be reading the next two books at some point and, no, I won’t be reading the blurb for them either. Wish me luck. Arrrr!!!

Side note no. 2: While searching for the recap, I inadvertently came across a post on Mr. Gladstone’s website called “How to Convince Your Friends to Read My Books.” I, of course, immediately became sidetracked because explaining these books to me crew can be hard. His post was absolutely funny and delightful and explained each book with fun little taglines. For example, the first book published, three parts dead, is described as “For Law, Finance, or Business People: ‘It’s about bankruptcy law, only the entity in bankruptcy protection is a dead god, and the attorneys are necromancers.’ So wonderful.

Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...
Profile Image for Jukaschar.
161 reviews4 followers
December 27, 2022
Great fantasy with a very epic feel to it.

Gladstone knows how to create characters in every spectrum of grey there is. That's a big plus in my opinion. All main characters in this book are deeply flawed, as are their actions and their view of the world.

I've hated Temoc with a passion from his first appearance to the finale of the book. I don't think I've ever read a book with a main character I disliked more than him. It's definitely a testament to the great storytelling that's going on in this book that I continued reading, and reading fervently, instead of dropping the book.

I would have given five stars, if the book had been a little less violent. I do think that most of the graphic descriptions were adequate, however when describing the final battle Gladstone unnecessarily went a bit overboard in my opinion.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews256 followers
August 19, 2015
3 Stars

The Last First Snow was a huge disappointment for me. The Craftwork Sequence by Max Gladstone has up to this point been an incredible breath of fresh air. In this series he demonstrates how incredible an adult oriented fantasy can be. Max Gladstone is on top of his game. Each of the books in The Craftwork Sequence is an improvement on the last, with this book being a slight miss. Gladstone is rare in that he wants each book to be able to read alone, even though they are very connected. They take place in the same world and even have some recurring characters. Each of the first three of the Craftwork Sequence explore something different from the next. Book one explores the Craft. Book two the Gods. Book 3, Full Fathom Five explores something that blurs the border between the Gods and the Craft. And finally The Last First Snow is really a book about the Gods and their return.

I never connected with these characters, normally a strong point in all of the previous Gladstone novels. As a result I had a tough time with this book. Sure, it is incredibly written and it takes place in the same world that I have come to love, but it did not provide enough to overcome my disinterest in the characters.

What a shame. I absolutely loved the first three books. Maybe I will have to try this one again at a later time to give it another chance.
Profile Image for Raul Ruiz.
110 reviews6 followers
September 9, 2019
El mundo que crea el autor es bastante interesante pero su prosa es bastante mediocre, no alcanza un equilibrio justo entre las explicación mínima y la indefinición. Consigue, de laguna manera extraña, que la trama se arrastre lentamente y a la vez presentar unos personajes planos e (otra vez curiosamente) vagos e indefinidos. Me corta un poco el rollo que no sea el primer libro del autor, porque no hay una promesa de mejora. A ratos se me ha hecho pesadísimo. No se si repetiré.
Profile Image for retro.
344 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2017
Quality writing & world building. Extremely irritating protagonist. Couldn't get into this one on account of how much I hated Temoc. The fact that this book is a prequel to Two Serpents Rise, which is about his equally irritating son, didn't help.
Profile Image for Bogdan.
853 reviews1 follower
January 18, 2018
Good addition to the series. And impressive as the writer choses different stories for his books centered on the same world.

Maybe this volume had some flaws, the late start of the whole action, not so much deity around and other crazy stuff like the others (for example the city, Dresediel Lex, in the second volume, has vampires, zombies, and more, more creatures and fantastic beings roaming around ), in truth this one has some golems and some others in the end, but, anyway, still, not complaining much because it was an entertaining book.

I mean that his style and books reminds me of the books that weren`t written in China Mieville`s series, of the Bas-Lag world. It has the same strangeness and uniqueness that very few are capable of achieving.

So, if you`re in search of a solid urban fantasy series that could fulfill your wildest dreams, look no further, you`re in the right place!

Ps: another minor complain is that until now, in 6 books, he has return two times in Alt Coulumb and Dresediel Lex, one time, the action is on an island, Kavekana, and in the last book published on a new city, Alikand- I mean not so much new places if you get my meaning! But, hey, in the end, that means that there are plenty of other books to be wrote in this world!
Profile Image for Sabrina.
463 reviews14 followers
February 3, 2018

“…war always had been a chance for great powers to play with their most exquisite toys”

These books are really hard to rate. On the one hand, I feel they’re too complicated, so interwoven that I hardly understand them and have trouble to keep focus. But on the other hand, there is a brilliance too them (that is just a little out of my grasp) and there is always just something that keeps me going. One of those somethings was the overall story of this series, that finally started to come together. This time we follow Elayne, Temoc and the King in Red. In the end Elayne really grew on me, but in the beginning, I had trouble to raise true compassion for the characters.

While this was mostly a story about rebellion, contracts, war, conflicting interests and emotions, there were also a few things that made me love. Working in a hospital myself I especially liked this one:
“…searching for a nurse who didn’t look too busy to interrupt. As the clock ticked toward midnight, she decided that looking too busy to interrupt was likely a survival trait for nurses.”
Profile Image for Chip.
444 reviews52 followers
April 6, 2017
Characters: 5*
Universe: 5*
Plot: 3.5*

After reading book 5 by accident this book was *slightly* spoiled for me by myself (and book 5 now makes a bit more sense).

It was good to return to this universe and I greatly enjoy the concept of this series. What if religion and faith and miracles were based on math, science, and economics? You'd have the craft sequence.
Profile Image for Peter.
133 reviews30 followers
February 18, 2016
If you're not reading this series, then it seems a bit silly from the outside looking in...maybe that's not the right word. Definitely weird.

That's what I thought when I started the series. Even after finishing Three Parts Dead, I just kept thinking, "What a weird book." I really liked it, though. It was new and fresh and exciting. And every other book in the series has continued that. And now I'm here, four books deep, and it all seems normal. It's a series where characters range from skeleton kings to witch lawyers to warrior priests without any gods left (kind of), where everything is an analogy to modern life, where it's hard to tell the difference between great realism and cutting satire...and it's all pretty normal feeling at this point. I'm sold completely.

Anyways, in a series of good books, this is the best yet. We get to see a bunch of old characters (before they were old) in a relatively familiar setting, and in a really interesting time period. There's a really great dynamic between Temoc, Elayne, and Kopil, which really adds to the series as a whole, since those characters show up elsewhere as well. So that's pretty great. The story and themes were great, as usual in this series. It's always fun to see how Max Gladstone can use modern-day, real-world professions in his fantasy, and having Elayne work as a lawyer hired to help negotiate a stand-off over what is essentially a zoning issue (with a heaping dose of gentrification) is really cool. How is that even remotely interesting? I don't know how he does it. He's made lawyers and actuaries and investment bankers seem super interesting and get involved in some really great stories without stretching anything too far. In all of that kind of stuff, this book is right on par with the rest.

The only noticeable difference to me was the actual writing, the prose. It seemed like there was a decent shift in the style of writing here, and I liked it. It felt a little more poetic, and a little more sleek...Gladstone essentially added some really top-notch writing into his already impressive worldbuilding and characters and plotting.

This is easily one of the coolest series in fantasy right now, and if you're not reading it, you're missing out. It's way too weird to not read.
Profile Image for Jacqie.
1,590 reviews76 followers
February 13, 2018
This is probably my second favorite book of the first four written in the Craft sequence.

Gladstone has written these books in a non-chronological order, with the numbers in the title indicating how the order works. That means that this book is first in the series time-wise. It's a prequel to the events in Two Serpents Rise, with Caleb's father Temoc as one of the main characters.

Temoc is what makes this book for me. He is a priest who can no longer practice the blood rites of his psuedo-Aztec gods because his city has been conquered. Temoc has found a way to perform a semblance of the ceremony, enough to allow him to minister to his people. He's got a wife and son, and has convinced himself that this is enough.

Elayne Kevarian (from Three Parts Dead) is in this book too. She is helping the King in Red ( a skeleton sorceror who has conquered the city) and his business partner in a land negotiation. All of Gladstone's books deal with economics translated through the prism of magic. In this book, urban gentrification becomes a sparking point for something that could develop into a revolution. And wouldn't the anointed priest of blood gods be called to fight in that case?

Temoc doesn't want conflict- he's seen what war does to a city. Because of his influence in the slums, he is enlisted to negotiate a compromise that will avoid bloodshed. But in a city founded on sacrifice and death, it's not going to be that easy.

The characters are really what make this book for me. After reading about Temoc's implacability in Two Serpents Rise, his kinder gentler version is almost unrecognizable. I needed to know what made him transform so utterly. The trick of a prequel is to put the audience in suspense even when they know what's going to happen, and Gladstone pulls that off here masterfully.

And what a world. Couatl fly with airborne riot police, the city shimmers with heat and tension, a new paradigm forces its way into being. The end of the book felt just slightly overwrought, but 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Dan.
656 reviews22 followers
July 24, 2015
This was a book about destruction and loss. Prequel to Two Serpents Rise, it tells of the rift that sprang up between Temoc and his son. The Red King is considerably more of a jerk than I remembered.

The first book in the series, I was surprised and impressed by the creativity put into the setting and worldbuilding. Four books in, it's the same setting, and it doesn't surprise me any more.

The tone of the series has been all over the place but this one was just depressing. Nobody in this book is having fun. (Except the Red King, perhaps?)
Profile Image for Kdawg91.
258 reviews14 followers
October 1, 2015
If you are a fantasy fan, and you HAVEN'T read Max Gladstone, stop reading this, go get your paypal, credit card, pint of blood, etc..and hit up your bookstore/crack dealer of choice and buy the Craft Sequence series.

On a five star rating system, the book in this series I like the LEAST is 4 and a half stars.

so...........GO BUY IT.
Profile Image for kari.
608 reviews
March 18, 2018
So far my favorite Craft novel; the sense of inevitable tragedy and the conflicts were the emotional equivalent of being punched in the gut (repeatedly). I loved seeing a younger, more humane Elayne, a more terrifying Kopil, and most of all - Temoc before he became who he was in Two Serpents Rise. That's fine, I guess I didn't need my heart that much anyway.
Profile Image for Marlene.
2,842 reviews192 followers
July 16, 2015
Originally published at Reading Reality

Dresediel Lex is a desert city. The last time it snowed was also the first time it snowed – 40 years ago during the God Wars.

It was also the first and last time that Craftswoman Elayne Kevarian met Temoc, the last Eagle Knight of the Old Gods.

Forty years ago, Elayne and Temoc were both young and idealistic, and Kopil, the King in Red, still had a fleshly body. Now Elayne and Temoc are both older and wiser, and Kopil has made the final transition of a Craftsman – he rules Dresediel Lex as the skeletal King in Red.

While 40 years is enough time for Elayne and Temoc to have both lost their naivete and idealism, it is not enough time for a powerful skeleton to forget all the wrongs that were done him during the Wars – even though he won.

Last First Snow starts out as a tale of modern urban renewal (or urban removal, depending upon perspective). The Powers That Be in Dresediel Lex, meaning the King in Red and the insurance companies represented by Tan Batac, want to remake the Skittersill slum into a modern suburb of palaces and high-end shopping. Which will, of course, force out the blue-collar dockworkers who have called the Skittersill their home for the last 40 years.

Elayne is a Craftswoman. In terms of the Craft Sequence, that makes her a combination of lawyer and necromancer, and she is very good at her job. The Skittersill is a depressed area because the Old Gods that Kopil defeated left wards that keep it economically depressed. Those wards also keep out demons and suppress fires, but they are fraying now that the Old Gods have been defeated.

Development requires new wards. It also requires that the working-class poor who have made the Skittersill their home shove off for less desirable pastures. However, they don’t want to leave their homes or their community, and who can blame them? They are all well aware that all this glorious proposed development is not for their benefit. It never is.

Elayne steps in to broker a “peace agreement” between the two sides, something that she can present to the redistricting judge. It is only when she arrives at the Skittersill that she discovers that the community is being led by her old frenenemy, Temoc. In the God Wars, she once saved his life.

And he once earned the ire of the King in Red. Neither of those events slips into the background when the “peace conference” erupts in violence. A lone assassin has brought the God Wars back again with a vengeance. As the district slips further into violence, and back into the old ways that Kopil and Elayne once defeated, it feels as if there is nothing she can do except watch the body count rise.

Until Elayne follows the money and discovers just who benefits from the destruction. And decides to make sure that they don’t. No matter the cost.

Escape Rating A: The Craft Sequence is an urban fantasy series that is guaranteed to leave readers with a terrible book hangover. Each volume immerses you further into this world, and makes it that much more difficult to let go.

Last First Snow is no exception. But readers will be rewarded by starting with the first book in the series, Three Parts Dead. Each book builds on the layers of world creation erected by its predecessor, and the result is utterly compelling.

We have sayings about gods, “Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad,” is one that will come to mind during the reading of Last First Snow. Sometimes the question is whether Kopil has lost it, or whether Temoc has been clinging to the worship of his Old Gods for far too long.

But the phrase that I want to apply to Kopil, the King in Red, is the one about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely. Because while Kopil and Elayne won the war to abolish the Old Gods of Dresediel Lex and their blood sacrifices and replace their worship with technology and self-determination, the King in Red is now himself an absolute power. When the situation in the Skittersill goes pear-shaped, Kopil uses it as an excuse to get out all of his war toys and use all of his power and obliterate the people who have defied him.

He doesn’t care about the cost, not to the district and not to his own troops, because he has lost his ability to empathize with people. He isn’t really people any longer.

One of the questions in this reader’s mind is whether Kopil has become an even greater tyrant than the Old Gods he fought so hard to defeat. Elayne Kevarian, who has been his ally all this time, begins to work against him, telling herself that it is in his long-term best interests. Whether it is or not is something we will have to judge in later books.

Last First Snow works on multiple levels. In its base, it is a story about urban renewal. We’ve seen this story play out in real life; the powers that be sell the plan on the grounds of how it will help the residents of some area that middle class people see as blighted. All of the benefits to area residents are touted until the deal is closed. And then, the poor or working class folks who lived in the area are forced out by construction and rising prices and the rich get richer. Everyone in the Skittersill knows exactly what will happen. They can’t stop progress, but they can work towards getting themselves a halfway decent deal as part of it.

There are too many forces arrayed against them. Too many people who are trying to make sure the deal fails, no matter what underhanded methods are used. Even Elayne knows it is too easy, but she doesn’t find the flaw until it is too late for everything but counting the bodies. We’ve all guessed. Even she’s guessed. But as a Craftswoman, for the legal parts of that training, she needs proof she can take before a judge.

We also see how far Kopil has stepped away from being human. He’s still holding on to the grudges, but none of the feeling. He wants to suppress the Skittersill rebellion because Temoc is on the other side of it. Kopil is still fighting old battles and old wars. It’s possible that he can’t feel the reality of any new ones.

I’m still thinking about Last First Snow. Every angle on the story inspires more and more possible tangents in my brain. Plus the manipulators of events are clearly not done. Peace is definitely only temporary.

If you like urban fantasy that makes you think (and think, and rethink) you will love Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence.
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