The Hanged Man - the Tarot Sequence ramps up

Posted by Sevhina on Fri, 08/26/2022 - 20:07

The end of The Last Sun was action packed and hinted at several tantalizing secrets so the follow up entry could make or break the series. The Hanged Man not only fails to disappoint but focuses on the best elements of the first and builds on them. Before the fall of the Lovers' court Max Saint Valentine was contracted to marry Lord Hanged Man. Rune swore an oath to safely deliver Max to his day of majority, age 21 in New Atlantis, which means protecting the fifteen year old from the creepiest of the Arcana. Unfortunately, Lord Hanged Man is very old, very powerful, and has the law on his side. While searching for a legitimate reason to challenge the contract Rune is asked to help find the missing child believed to be abducted by the Hanged Man. Rune and his allies discover the darkest nature of the Arcana and a secret that threatens the fragile peace between New Atlantis and the humans. They have fought evil scions and a legendary lich but a hero can't force the Arcanum to act. It is time for Rune to take his rightful place as the Sun of Atlantis.

Rune swore an oath to keep Max safe and if that means taking on the Arcana so that even the other Arcana avoid him so be it. Conveniently, for the politics of the situation, the Dawncreek family, a lesser house that was a member of the Sun Court before it's fall, also has a situation with the Hanged Man. The Hanged Man killed Lord Kevan Dawncreek, burned down their house, and has now abducted his oldest son. The family is important to Rune on many levels. They are a reminder that he wasn't the only one who barely survived his father's death. The loss of her scion has caused Lord Kevan's Companion to age rapidly, they were both well over a century thanks to rejuvenation, which reminds Rune of Brand's fate should he outlive Rune. Then there are the three very talented children who desperately need protection. All of this is in Rune's thoughts as he tries to find evidence that the Hanged Man is responsible for the boy's abduction and what he and his friends find is evidence of both psychological and physical torture of humans as well as pedophilia and the one magic forbidden even to Arcana.

The evidence is all there if the Arcanum sees it before the Hanged Man makes it disappear, but even though Rune is granted some respect as his father's Heir, only a member of the Arcanum can propose they take action. His ascension to Arcana is suitably dramatic. After the grim darkness of touring the Hanged Man's properties seeing several of the Arcana in action is fun. Several Arcana join Rune in trying to take down the Hanged Man, as well as some surprise assistance from the Companions due to Corinne's situation although only Brand is crazy enough to take part in the assault directly. Humans don't fare well in magic battles where Atlanteans can take control of their minds with relative ease. However the Companions are all trained weapons specialists and have no issue taking a stand against lesser Atlanteans.

All together it's actually a more well crafted book than The Last Sun. The plot is still very weird with plenty of drama and action but its a lot more focused. Many aspects of the world building were mentioned in passing in the first book but here there is an emphasis on the Companions and the issues that concern them specifically. Paying attention to those bits that don't seem to fit continues to be important in the series. On first reading The Last Sun there were several remarks or things Rune observed that seemed out of place in the current scene that could be taken as extraneous information or poor writing. This second book clearly reveals that they are actually very subtle clues to matters of great importance as the series goes on. They are simply an element of intrigue, missing them doesn't hamper understanding things as they happen later.

Josh Hurley's performance as narrator is again highly rated at 4.9 on Audible.