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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
The Last Skinweaver is book number four in W.G. Hladky's award-winning and highly acclaimed The Book of Ruin series, a dystopian science fiction saga spanning multiple centuries. Roge Callan has chosen an unexpected path and is living among Skinweavers, a feared race of humanoids renowned for skinning captives. Roge's role is to transform a dwindling tribe so they can survive. The American leaves The Shadowlands undetected, returning to his ancestral home and taking a mechanical marvel swiftship, Drunken Stork, to save the Widow Witches and pacifist Yetis and return them to their homeland. In Hladky's East Asian nations, opposing empires are going to extreme lengths in the lead-up to a year of forecast heightened warfare. Unlikely alliances are formed and nearly 600 years after the Flash new land is still being discovered, but everywhere else Roge and his crew see that nothing new has been learned.
The Last Skinweaver is a spectacular addition to The Book of Ruin series and returns to the lengthier page count of The Book of Ruin and The Flashfall Sword after the slightly shorter third book, RangerKnights. The pacing is fast and satisfying and in line with the previous books that are generational. There are loads more characters, and all of them feel authentic. Roge's family and backstory unfurl as the novel plows forward and the interactions he has with everyone, carrying the legendary sword and flying an airship built for war, intensify as the pieces click cleanly together. Dedicated Book of Ruin readers become armchair tourists again in the cinematic descriptions. I dog-eared a beautiful but searingly sad section where a young girl named Sun Bao chooses the Forever Path into the sentient Wangliang Forest instead of having her destiny chosen by others. Small characters often make the greatest sacrifices but W.G. Hladky gives them life and the compilation weaves them together seamlessly.