Caliph Howl is the reluctant, young King of the Duchy of Stonehold. Despite
his responsibilities, he falls into a passionate affair with Cena, whom he
eventually learns has been trained by the Shradnae Witchocracy since birth.
Caliph is caught on the edge of a civil war amid gossip and political intrigue
while Cena secretly plots to unlock the Cisrym Ta, an arcane text whose glyphs
can give their interpreter the power to destroy or reshape worlds.
Huso imaginatively weaves the story in a grimy world ripe with unchecked
crime, sweaty bodies, and organic filth. Even the food for the masses is soiled
by secrets fit only for the King. While the plot is interesting, the story
moves, and the characters have depth, Huso's gratuitous use of foul language and
sordid, vivid imagery detracts from the storyline.
The following is a brief sample of the happenings in the neighborhood where
the King's personal body guard lives:
"Flesh-tailors from Bloodsump Lane arrived promptly for abuse at the
hands of their masters. They lolled in green-lit second-story dens, staring
from odd angled positions where they had fallen into chairs and filthy beds.
For hours they would look at grungy plaster surfaces where flies and roaches
outmaneuvered gravity, tasting the walls for flecks of organic spew."
If you enjoy tangled, high fantasy filled with leather, lace, and vivid
imagery of seedy back alleys, then you may enjoy Huso's visionary world. If not,
if you want your young Kings to be heroes, or if you found the sample excerpt
too taxing, then I recommend you give The Last Page a pass.