Sunday, 18 May 2014

Last Stand of Dead Men - Derek Landy Review

Blurb: War has finally come. Not between good and evil, but between Sanctuaries, and if Skulduggery and Valkyrie are to stop it they must team up with the rest of the dead men.

At the same time, war rages within Valkyrie herself, as Darquesse is on the verge of rising.

Series: Skulduggery Pleasant #8. See my review of   #7, Kingdom of the Wicked, here. 

I waited SO long to buy this one (no, seriously - months after its release date) and while that meant I had to hide from spoilers for way too long, I'm glad. This way I only have four months to wait until Skulduggery Pleasant #9, The Dying of the Light, comes out! (There had better be a signing near me. The joys of living in the same country as the author). 

And before we get started, what a snarky little author he is. 

 Would you guess from that picture how much he likes to torture both his characters and his readers? 

(If not, you're about to find out). Probable spoilers for the early books, but none for Death Bringer or Kingdom of the Wicked (unless you're telepathic). 

The plotlines covered in LSODM are (1) Darquesse (2) War between the Sanctuaries (3) Fletcher (4) Scapegrace and Thrasher (5) the Warlocks (6) the Reflection (7) the Dead Men. That is a hell of a lot of plotlines, Derek. 

(1) As you may know, I love reading about Darquesse. She's just so much fun (especially against Lord Vile). It's like ... wish-fulfilment, in a twisted way. Vicariously being a nigh-indestructible, insanely powerful, teenage girl. (I am one of these things. Guess which one). Her plotline gets pretty dark here - we're constantly aware of Darquesse's presence in Val's mind - and it loses a lot of the Skulduggery-Valkyrie banter. But such is war.

(2) Basically, the Supreme Council (all the other sanctuaries) is at war with the Irish, African and Australian Sanctuaries (the Cradles of Magic stick together). In all the other books we tended to have Skul and Val fighting a single enemy/small group of people who want to, like, take over the world or something. It's manageable, you know? This time they're fighting against their own sorcerers ... and it's really harsh. Difficult to read, I mean. There are no holds barred, lots of casualties. AND TREACHERY GODDAMNIT. 

(3) Fletcher gets more screen time in this book (man, am I happy about that). He's put in plenty of danger and I'll say no more about that. But at least (minor spoiler) a certain Myra is out of the picture. God, I hated her. Val may be a horrible person, but FALKYRIE. 

(4) Scapegrace and Thrasher ... how I love these guys. I'm pretty sure they're immortal by now. They've been humans, an incompetent Killer Supreme, zombies, disembodied heads, gender-swapped and now the Dark and Stormy Knight and the Village Idiot. Derek just seems to keep riffing on the abundant comic relief they provide. Strangely enough, we also feel for them (when we're not laughing at Scapegrace). Well played, Mr. Landy.

(5) I can't say too much about the Warlocks without spoiling but they're really powerful, very angry and present a huge damn threat. (Which is awful for the good guys because come on, don't they have enough on their plates already?).

(6) The Reflection was involved  in the HUGE MASSIVE SHOCK ending of Kingdom of the Wicked, and now she's back with an even larger role. (Note I said 'she', not 'it'). She calls herself Stephanie and sees herself as a distinct person. While Valkyrie ... does some stuff... during the last part of the book, the story is told from her point of view. I didn't really like that, actually. It felt kind of discordant to be bonding with her. 

(7) The Dead Men thing completely broke my heart. I cried. Seriously. At one point, I genuinely cried. There's something that happens halfway through (hint: it involves treachery) and, while I was left in a state of shock by the actual event, what really got me was the other Dead Men's reactions to it. Also, what a twist. I can't decide whether I love or hate Derek right now. 

I think what struck me most in this was how much foreshadowing Derek has done. I re-read #3, the Faceless Ones, recently, and the Reflection stuff was hinted at there. (Also the golden eyes thing. You got us good there, Derek. How dare you.)

Off to cry. 

Just finished Geek Girl #1 by Holly Smale (not in my usual genre but I really enjoyed it), so that'll be reviewed soon enough. Also, I'm finishing my book's second draft today, woo! And I have an exciting Angry Robot book to start reading on Netgalley, so I'm looking forward to that. 


  1. I've read it it. I can't believe ******* ****** *****. I know absolutely hate *****. ******* was my favourite character! Still, I can't figure out the ending, because of all the visions Cassandra had. DARQUESSE IS AWESOME

    1. I know, I loved him. Still do. She really is, the fight scenes are thrilling.

  2. Saracen is pretty awesome as well, but I really want to know what his magic discipline is. 'I know things' can get really annoying.

  3. Replies
    1. I have, here's the url I'll be putting a search button here soon so you can look for things. And yes, I want to Tweet Derek and ask about Saracen like 'What exactly does he know?' but Derek would just say 'Things', I think.

  4. Ha! I love that you jokingly say disparaging things about the author when you clearly love him. And it's no wonder! It really sounds like he has a wicked sense of humour and a good grasp of how to balance multiple storylines at once. I listened to the first book in audio and I loved it (and the narrator!). I can't believe there are already so many books out in the series. If you get a chance to see the author, please share a recap!!


What do you think?