THE LAST LIES OF ARDOR BENN by Tyler Whitesides.
Orbit Books. p/b. £9.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
Third cycle, The Char and Ardor Benn’s next masquerade is ready to commence. This time he appears as a Holy Isle, though perhaps more than just in costume, with everything he needs ready and in place; his team at his side, a vial of ignition grit and a bit of Raek’s expertise.
Pardoned by the queen after his last escapades, Ardor Benn has issued apologies to his previous victims – those whose names and status render it necessary, anyhow – and his public image is firmly that of ruse artist turned Holy Isle.
Unlike Ardor Benn and his recent religious activities, Quarrah Khai is still working and is as effective a thief as she ever was. With job after job lined up, despite her being in Talumon rather than Beripent, she is getting along very nicely without Ardor and his antics. Yet whether she likes it or not it, would appear that fate – or someone else – has destined their paths to cross again, and it seems Ard is not at all ready to forget their past, or his feelings, even if he is a little preoccupied with his next scheme…
A ruse, on top of a ruse, on top of a ruse. Will this be their biggest yet?
The Last Lies of Ardor Benn is the closing book in the Kingdom of Grit trilogy and certainly brings things to a close on an epic scale. Following Ardor, Quarrah and Raek for one last time, the narrative runs from ruse to stumbling block and back again as they face an enemy who appears to see their every move before they make it, and Ardor comes face to face with more than just a dragon from his past.
In this final instalment, the focus is much more firmly on the bigger picture, exploring moonsickness, scripture, Ardor’s relationships and the consequences of his past actions, and as a result, we don’t have the exciting and manic tumbling from ruse to ruse so much as with the first two Ardor Benn books. There is less plotting and more reactive action this time, but still enough of Ardor’s brilliance that the slower pace is forgiven.
If this is the last we see of Ardor Benn, then he ends as he began, with just enough charm, arrogance and wit to have the reader applauding him to the grand finale. However, just as Ardor never seems to give up rusing, we might live in hope that his world is perhaps not ready to give him up just yet.