The Last Skinweaver

Fiction - Science Fiction
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 10/21/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

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.

K.C. Finn

The Last Skinweaver is a work of fiction in the fantasy and science fiction subgenres. It is best suited to the adult reading audience owing to scenes of a sexual nature and some moderate violence and was penned by W. G. Hladky. In this fourth novel of The Book of Ruin series, we find Roge Callan living among the Skinweavers, former enemies who now seek a path to a better future. But Roge is forced out of hiding by a quest that only his unique bloodline can follow. A journey on an unsuitable ship with an equally mismatched crew awaits him; to seek out the Widow Witches who have mysteriously vanished.

W. G. Hladky pulls out all the stops in this thrilling work that deftly balances all the elements you need for a true sci-fi masterpiece. The world-building and lore surrounding the different species and factions blend nicely with place names and ideas that will be familiar to readers, creating an alternative universe filled with terror and dread. In the midst of all this, the character-building and narrative work around Roge and his crew offer much to admire, with hardened figures shaped by the dangerous environment they live in and the many political and personal battles they must overcome just to survive, let alone solve the mess they find themselves in. What results is a gorgeously penned and atmospheric novel with high-stakes consequences, making The Last Skinweaver a highly recommended read for fans of the existing series, and Hladky a recommended author for sci-fi and fantasy fans everywhere.

Jamie Michele

The Last Skinweaver by W. G. Hladky is the fourth book in a science fiction series. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic world that was impacted by a global phenomenon called the Flash, an event similar to the complete worldwide power grid failure predicted by the proponents of the polar shift hypothesis. Hundreds of years following the Flash and the dispersal of humanity, pockets of people, uncivilized by contemporary standards, are in a perpetual state of conflict. Roge Callan is an American who has relinquished his birthright and left behind a tyrannical, murderous father to use his expertise in training a barren tribe of Skinweavers on how to survive after impotency makes their skin-flaying human man-suit-wearing ways impractical. Roge pilots a compact swiftship called the Drunken Stork, in which he and a worn-out crew travel through the world in search of those who have some good to offer and to ward off the armies of the dead.

The Last Skinweaver should ideally be read chronologically as part of the series and the reality is that it's unlikely to prove as enjoyable as a stand-alone. The book is narrated from multiple points of view across a vast landscape of alternate cultures, religions, social structures, and supernatural elements. This is a speculative tale set in a time that looks pretty horrible but reads like a treat. The writing is tight and it is evident that, as the series progresses, so too does W.G. Hladky's storytelling ability. Hladky is consistent in keeping the characters fresh and is at his best when he takes us deep into battle, forests that have been reclaimed by nature, and into attacks by giant eagles. I loved the character development, and my goodness, the way my heart went out to weak little Benny is a testament to Hladky's talent. Highly recommended.