The Last Mortal Bond (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne)
by Brian Staveley
Cover Artist: Richard Anderson
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765336422
Date: 15 March 2016 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The war which is tearing the Annuan Empire apart comes to a thrilling conclusion with a series of last stands. Adare, Kaden, and Valyn have a role to play as the Csestriim emerge once more. Each of the children of the fallen Emperor must make their own stand. Their goals and motives are their own, based largely on the world in which they developed.
Adare has been close to the center of power. She makes deals and reads the will of the people. She makes decisions based on what is needed to continue to move forward. Her child is heir to the throne and a potential pawn she wants to keep out of play
Kaden, raised by reclusive monks, has the ability to use the hidden paths. He was raised to fulfill his duty, no matter what he wanted. He must protect the gods from their own poor choices, but he also wants to save innocent lives.
Valyn was raised to strike. But when he is betrayed, he no longer has the will to be a part of the greater world. His abilities, greatly enhanced help him survive, but his own guilt handicaps him. His life has been a fight, and Ketterals always fight.
The one major remaining point of view follows Valyn's former Wing. They travel back to the home base of the Ketteral to find strife and a vicious leader controlling a remnant of the former glory and power of the Ketteral. They must find a way to bring the Ketteral back into the main war.
This is the third and concluding novel in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne. As such it isn't the best starting point for new readers. The series is full of action and fans of Peter Brett's Demon Cycle should find a lot here to enjoy. The world has a large number of factions fighting towards their own goals. The alliances form an break over time as goals change. This is a reflection of history and real life politics not just fiction and Staveley stays on point.
The story flew by for me. After the last novel, I found myself wondering how Staveley would be able to tie up the loose ends in just one book. He did it by not going for the simple and straightforward conclusion. He left some ambiguity so the reader can use their imagination to fill in the future. That said, Staveley gives insight into the future of the characters.
The climax wasn't completely satisfying. As a reader you develop your favorite characters, and when their stories take dark paths it hurts. I applaud his willingness to stick to the trilogy and not fall into the never-ending series trap.