Book Review: The Hanged Man by K.D. Edwards
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 2 of The Tarot Sequence
Publisher: Pyr (December 17, 2019)
Length: 383 pages
Unlike a lot of readers, I wasn’t really as bedazzled by The Last Sun. A good story cannot be supported by action alone, no matter how many battle sequences or daring escapades you throw in my face. Despite the spectacular world-building and relentless pacing, all throughout the first book I couldn’t shake the feeling that much of it was meant to compensate for (or distract me from) a rather thin plot. It’s true that I wanted something a bit more substantial, especially from a series opener, and while overall I enjoyed the book, by the end of it I was also exhausted and feeling no small amount of relief that it was over.
But now we have the sequel, The Hanged Man, and I’m pleased to say I found it to be a lot more balanced with regards to story and plotting, more restrained in its action, and best of all, more time was given to character and relationship development. Before I proceed with the review though, I highly recommend being caught up with the series because spoilers for The Last Sun are possible. In this sequel, which once more centers on the lives of Rune Saint John and his friends, we are delving deeper into complicated world of the Atlantean court whose members represent the Major Arcana of a Tarot deck. Known as Scions, these individuals are possessed of powerful magic, able to store and utilize spells in the form of sigils. The story picks up soon after the events at the end of the previous book with a bombshell development that involves Rune’s ward, Max. It appears that the monstrously cruel and vicious Scion known as The Hanged Man has set his sights on the young man, intending to force him into a marriage contract against his will.
Needless to say, Rune and Brand are going to do whatever it takes to make sure that will never happen. However, it soon appears that our protagonist’s troubles are merely beginning. As the story shifts its attention to the Dawncreeks and Rune’s friendship with Corrine, we find out that her son Layne is missing, and it’s feared that his disappearance may have something to do with The Hanged Man’s sick and twisted agenda.
Rewinding back to my review of The Last Sun, I noted how amidst all the furious action and excitement, the irony was that my favorite parts of the novel were always and unfailing the quieter moments especially when Rune had his stolen moments of connection to those closest to him. To me, those were the scenes that defined his character and brought meaning to a novel that sometimes felt like it was more concerned with delivering wise-cracking lines and fast thrills. In contrast though, I was glad to see that in The Hanged Man we got more of these precious, emotionally revealing conversations between our protagonist and the people who mattered to him most. For one thing, it gave us more insight into the bond he has with Brand, and for another—and this was important for me, personally—some of the interactions between Rune and Addam in this one provided some much needed clarity into the nature of their romance which was something that felt off to me in the first book and never sat quite right.
I also liked how the flow of the story remained snappy without becoming overwhelming this time around. It’s possible that some of this can be attributed to what I wrote about above, which had a balancing effect on the pacing. The Hanged Man is also much darker, featuring higher stakes with consequences that are more significant and far-reaching. As someone who thought the tone of the first book was occasionally too flippant in the face of some of its heavier themes, I appreciated how this installment brought in greater depth and profundity to make me care more about the characters and the story.
Finally, it would be a crime to discuss a novel of The Tarot Sequence without mentioning the world-building. I think this element remains the strongest of author K.D. Edwards’ writing, and he continues to build upon the existing lore and magic of New Atlantis, dishing out answers to some questions while raising many more. The world of this series is a vast system—living, breathing, and complete—but clearly, it’s not ready to give up all its secrets yet. And that’s a good thing, considering how many more books are planned (nine all together, apparently!) and I hope to savor each and every discovery as Edwards adds more layers with each installment.
Overall, I was very pleased with The Hanged Man, which managed to step up as a sequel should. It continued to excel in the things the first novel did well, while improving on the things it didn’t. If this trend continues, The Tarot Sequence will become a force to be reckoned with—not that it isn’t a big deal already, making some huge waves in SFF circles. Truly, I think its potential can only grow, and I’m curious and excited to see where series is headed.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of The Last Sun (Book 1)