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REVIEW: The Last Warrior by Susan Grant

“As a decorated soldier, the young General Tao knows only one kind of honor—to his people. But when his own king betrays him, he discovers that his sacrifices, his successes, may not have been for the good of the country at all.

Fate—and his enemies—throw him together with Elsabeth, a red-haired beauty who has served as the royal tutor. Her loyalties, though, remain with her father’s people, the rebellious Kurel, who worship the old ways, even harboring the forbidden arks that brought the Kurel to this planet ages ago. When a threat greater than their peoples’ war looms, intent on destroying the world they both know, the fierce warrior and the sensitive scholar must unite. Together, they must fight for their planet, for their world and for their love.”

Dear Ms. Grant,

I sat, trying to write up a blurb for this one and stymied by all the world building so I copped out. I’m not sure if this is tied into or will eventually be tied into any of your other SF series but from the questions left open I would assume that it’s the start of a new series. Or maybe I missed the first one. Anyway, I don’t read SF all the time and perhaps would have a different opinion if I did but the world building was actually my favorite part of the book.

The Last Warrior by Susan GrantI enjoyed how it all starts to slowly shift then snap into sharp focus once the titles of the books Beth is carrying into the palace for the royal children is revealed. Well, that plus the name/title/deity Uhrth. Now I’m wondering about this Colony and why it had that number of colonists (3032) and how they got there. Seems like any group who would willingly head out into deep space exploration to settle a new world would believe in technology and science and medicine and not revert back to Luddites. But I guess after the Gorr arrive – and aren’t they awful? – and the “arks” are destroyed – deliberately? – so that the Gorr wouldn’t get back to Uhrth, some of the Colonists might have reasoned that if they didn’t turn their backs on all advanced knowledge, somehow the arks would be rebuilt or info about Uhrth would leak to the Gorr. With the rumored hidden arks in the Barrier Peaks, maybe this lost colony will eventually come home.

The Riders are interesting too. Kind of Plains Indians style people but ones who – from the background you’ve sprinkled in the story – are a mix of techno loving Kurel and back-to-basics Tassagon in their beliefs. And, just curious, where do those two names originate? I am trying to place them within the context of Earth but maybe they’re not. The Gorr are fascinatingly grotesque enemies and it seems from the info about the alphas’ speech trait now being passed on that more will be heard from about them as well as the sea raiders.

For people from two groups who have distrusted each other for -seemingly – generations, Tao and Beth quickly overcome their inherent, raised-from-the-cradle to believe, misunderstandings about each other. I guess for Tao that seeing, or rather experiencing, is believing as far as medicine goes. Still they reach detente rapidly. There’s a lot of info to be conveyed as well as setting up the conflict, romance and resolution of it all in a short word count so to keep it from turning into a tome, sacrifices are needed. Okay on second thought, Tao has fought the enemies of humans and sees them more as “in it together” or at least that they better not fight or the Gorr would overwhelm them. Meanwhile Beth has read the ancient Log of Uhrth and also knows that they can’t afford to take sides against each other or they’ll be lost to Uhrth forever.

You do come up with a plausible excuse for Tao to have to listen to Beth and try and fit into her Kurel world – namely that the Kurel elders might banish him and her if he doesn’t. Also the trade of information about the outside world for closer physical contact is inventive. Boo-yah that Beth loves to read books! Tao’s sister Aza and her husband King Xim show the Tassagon view of marriage as a business contract much like historical marriages here. Xim isn’t an uber strong villain but sometimes they’re the worst – those who allow themselves to be lead or who are manipulated by others.

Some aspects of the plot are more familiar to me – groups separated by distrust must somehow overcome their inherent differences and gather together or all is lost. Common cause must be found, misunderstandings dealt with and the disparate elements must unite! Tao leads the Kurel in a rag tag band together with appropriate Leader’s Inspiring Speech against the tracking Gorr. He, and the situation, rouse them from pacifist ways thereby leading to getting back together with the Tassagons. All this part of the plot seems more standard fantasy, SF, and historical stuff. It’s the world building that you’ve come up with that kept me interested and will bring me back to read the next book in the series – assuming that there is one.

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

15 Comments

  1. Jane
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 07:02:11

    Thank god you gave her a decent grade else she’ll be over wanting to see you puke as well as Shuzluva. The early Grant books were ones that I have tried to read but I always found her pacing too slow for an action book.

    Do you think you like Space stories more because they seem to be more focused on political struggles than say the primal stories of the paranormal?

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  2. Chelsea
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 07:07:35

    Great review! I’m also pretty confused about which of Grants books fit together in a series and what not. I’ve been wanting to try her work, but not sure where to start.

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  3. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 07:11:26

    @Jane: No, I don’t care to puke. Puking must be one of the least enjoyable symptoms of being sick to me. I’d take pain over puke.

    I think you might have something there in your analysis of my SF and PNR reading. I generally prefer the human(oid) aspects of the story rather than the technical or science parts. Those can add to my enjoyment but if the characters and their interactions don’t work for me, gee whiz space stuff won’t save my reading day.

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  4. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 07:19:52

    @Chelsea: After a quick trip to her website I see that this is the start of a new series and it’s hard to tell there which books are part of which series. Try here to see the series listings. The first book of her’s I read was Star King and I felt that was a strong series. Contact is a stand alone book I liked. Moonstruck is the start of her Borderlands series and I liked it. IIRC, Once a Pirate is a TT if those appeal to you.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Grant

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  5. Christine M.
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 09:11:20

    I would have such a hard time with this book…. General Tao is the French for General Tso’s chicken.

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  6. jody
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 09:15:55

    OK, I had to search DA for the puke review. Yikes! Not the review, the comments.

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  7. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 09:50:28

    @Christine M.: LOL, that same reference crossed my mind more than once while reading.

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  8. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 09:55:02

    @jody: Ms. Grant does seem to have a love/hate relationship with DA.

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  9. BadgerChaser
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 10:19:08

    While the world building in this review sounds really interesting, and the navigation of a relationship when two characters come from rival groups or different cultures is dear to my heart, I won’t be buying this one.

    I read the comments on the infamous “puke review” and am completely flabbergasted that an adult could react so unprofessionally. And I’m a writer as well.

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  10. Chelsea
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 11:42:17

    @Jayne:

    Thanks, that helps a bit. I wish publishers would start putting number labels on books.

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  11. Sue
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 13:21:58

    Jane, you and I used to have a nice rapport, so I want to clarify about Shuzluva’s review, for you and for the sake of the people who frequent this site. I didn’t say what I did about the grade. She had mentioned throwing up in the review so I made a joke, or tried, about pepto bismol, etc, etc and it came out all wrong. Ugh, bad word choice and I regretted it! I was sleep deprived on deadline and stressed and well, HUMAN. I learned my lesson. Never joke at DA. :) Then I made a cranky response to Jane and that was another mistake. Never make cranky responses to Jane. :) (see? I am remembering my smilies this time) I then went back to writing for the day, never realizing what happened next. Then Harlequin called and suggested I go back and apologize nicely so I did and then never to this day returned to that thread to see what transpired. I understand it was a firestorm. :) I don’t hate you guys and don’t love you, I am just neutral and never come over unless I get an alert that one of my books is reviewed. My family takes a lot of time, and I lost my mom a few months ago after a long illness, which was very sad for me. My flying job is very time consuming as well. Basically, I’m not online that much except for Facebook, as shown by my website and blog which are in desperate need of updating. As for grades, my books have usually received bleh grades at the online review sites and have for all the 12 years I’ve been published, so I am totally used to it, despite what some say. I wish I could get better grades because it would help sales. When I do it’s awesome, like the recent one for MOONSTRUCK at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Despite my bad luck in posting online and poor judgement sometimes in not using a filter :) I am just a hardworking mom who loves writing. I feel so lucky and blessed to have had the chance to be a published author. It’s been a fantastic ride and one I never in my wildest dreams predicted I’d do. In spite of my lukewarm reception online, I’ve been kept on the shelves and continuously published for 12 years, thanks to some loyal fans who buy my books anyway and seem to overlook often less than stellar grades. So, Jane, I wanted you to know that, that’s all.

    Jayne, I really did love writing The Last Warrior and all the stories in my head right now involve follow-on plots to it. I feel a calling to write more sci-fi/space/fantasy books with a longer word count, and would absolutely love to make this a long and ongoing series with the freedom to do it MY way. That said, I have been on a bit of a self-imposed hiatus because quite frankly losing my mom took the wind out of my sails, and also because my kids have been needing “Mom” a lot. I hope to restart the muse and carry on very soon. Anyway, Jayne, thanks for the review. I really appreciated hearing that you noticed the world-building, because that was the best part for me in creating the story. I will read this over to make sure I have said nothing too terrible or stupid. If I do and I have, please don’t take it as “fightin’ words.” Thanks y’all….

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  12. jody
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:26:31

    And the original apology was by request of her publisher. Could this poor creature embarrass herself any more?

    Wow.

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  13. Jane
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:43:10

    @jody I think Ms. Grant is just awkward in a comment thread, meaning she has good intentions but it never comes out quite right. I probably shouldn’t have referenced the first comment thread. Back to the book, I like space settings and political intrigue. Science fiction often seems geared in the direction of questioning political setups but like Jayne, without appealing characters, the larger scope of the worldbuilding can fall flat.

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  14. jody
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 15:00:43

    @Jane: Seems odd to me that a multi-published author of romance fiction would be that awkward at written communication, but OK. I’ll go with it.

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  15. Jane
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 15:03:40

    @jody Thanks.

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