Thursday, 29 May 2014

Book Review - Last Stand of Dead Men

Last Stand of Dead Men
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant #8
Genres: Fantasy | Childrens, Young Adult
Release Date: 29th August 2013
Publishers: Harper Collins
No. Pages: 604
Source: Borrowed
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
War has finally come. Not a war between good and evil, or light and dark, but a war between Sanctuaries. Skulduggery and Valkyrie must team up with the rest of Dead Men if they're to have any chance of maintaining the balance of power and getting to the root of a vast conspiracy that has been years in the making.

And at the same time, another war rages within Valkyrie herself, as Darquesse is on the verge to rising - and if Valkyrie slips, even for a moment, Darquesse will burn the world and everyone in it..

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

It's almost over friends. The Skulduggery Pleasant series is almost over and I am so not ready for it to be over. I started this series in Febuary, and as I'm writing this review, it's the 2nd April. I've made my way through eight pretty hunk of books and now I feel like Landy has abandoned me to play merry with my emotions and rip my heart out in the finale. I am not ready, and I wish I'd had some preparation for the contents of this book. With plenty of action scenes to make up for what was lacking in the last few predecessors and a handful of plot twists I seriously wish I'd seen coming, Last Stand of Dead made me laugh, cry and absolutely want to throttle Landy with my bare hands.

Splitting this review up into three coherent sections like I have with the other books in this series is nigh on impossible because of how much actually happened in this book. If they weren't on the battle field of the war, they were off stealing something, and by they, I mean to newly reformed Dead Men, and if that wasn't happening, then there were vampires out for revenge, characters in full frontal danger and so much betrayal and murder that I could've lost my head had I not made so many damn notes. As far as plot goes, Last Stand did feel a little more, dispersed and well, vast in comparison to the other books in the series; it would have possibly been better and easier had Landy decided to incorporate more of this plot into the other books in series, maybe planted a few more clues around in order to make this installment a little less hectic, but then, I may have seen some of major plot twists coming a mile off if he had, so I'm a little torn on that front. Twists wise though, I'll be damned. Landy knows how to fool an audience and he knows how to tear someone's heart out like an art form; it would be fair to say that I will never forgive Landy for taking one of my all time favourite characters in this series away from me (Spoiler) GIVE ME BACK GHASTLY YOU LITTLE SON OF A WITCH, THIS IS NOT DAMN FUNNY ANYMORE! (Spoiler) and almost taking another more times to count than I have fingers, and that's without mentioning poor Valkyrie, but I'll get to her later. I cried more times in this entire novel than I had in the entire series so far, and that's all down to the fantastically written plot, the world building, which granted, took a bit of a knock, but was still fantastic, and the characters, both old and new. Segawaying forward..

The characters in Last Stand. Well, when the sanctuaries weren't trying to murder one another, and the battle sides weren't morphed into one huge us vs them, the characters were fantastic. In fact, I probably enjoyed reading about all the characters in this story more than I had in the others, and that's saying something. It was fantastic to read about what each of the characters were doing when they weren't all in the same room, or same country even; reading about China on the run, Skulduggery and Valkyrie's solo adventures, The Dead Men's adventures and the snippets of other scenes concerning other characters was wonderful; it allowed the plot to function and grow from all angles, and it allowed me as a reader to see what looked like minor actions affected the plot as a whole. Yes, at first the flitting was a little distracting, but because Landy had done it previously in other books, I was able to quickly get over it and focus on the story at hand. Back to the characters.. While I may have cried a ton during this novel, I also laughed, smirked and giggled myself silly with the relationships formed by all the characters; it was great to see the interaction between the Dead Men all together, how they complimented one another, brought something to the team and how they each supported one another.Some of their scenes as a team brought a tear to my eye, and not because it was sad, but because it was hilarious, but like every book before, it was the scenes between Skulduggery and Valkyrie that stole the show.

I've always talked about their relationship, how they compliment one another and how they were the most unlikely of friends, but in this installment, it was the entirety of their relationship that shone through, from the little quirks each of them had that the other knew, or the faithfulness and honesty they had with one another. They were now more than friends, and more than partners, and yes, they were still as hilarious as they used to be, with one of the best relationships I have ever read, but it was the raw emotions they each showed; Skulduggery's dedication to save her, even when he knows she's more than likely a lost cause, and Valkyrie's love and care that makes him less and less of the monster he still thinks he is. They would do anything to save one another and that makes them both the most beautiful and most dangerous characters in this book, and while I might be highly pissed at Skulduggery right now for recruiting a specific character in the final chapters, I understand why; he might be a skeleton, but even skeletons need to grieve, and if he believes he can save Valkyrie, then I believe it too. Skulduggery needs to believe; damn it he's almost lost everyone and everything he ever consider important to him and I can't watch my baby fall apart.. Damn, I'm going to start welling up, so have a quote of Skulduggery and Valkyrie being best buddies and highlighting that their relationship is made of gold because I need to compose myself..
"I don't want a perfectly safe weapon. I want a dangerous weapon that hurts people."
He took the stick from her, rapped it against her head. She howled and he nodded.
"See? It hurts people."
She grabbed it off him, smacked it against his skull.
"Ow," he said.
"Not so funny now, is it?"
In my head, this book wasn't perfect; I feel like there might have been just a tad too much going on, and a tad too many characters, and I feel that Valkyrie was being a tad too immature on some occasions, considering she's now eighteen, but even with those tad few problems, this installment was everything I wanted and didn't want and more. It's going to be difficult sitting and waiting for the release of the final installment, and I know I'm going to be tearing my hair out waiting to see how China takes on her new life, how the sanctuaries function and just how Skulduggery will find and stop Darquesse, save Valkyrie and how Landy will honour my characters, or not honour, I mean, this is Derek Landy, evil Irish Mastermind, god knows what he's gone and done.. Last Stand of Dead Men is in my heart of hearts perfect, however, Derek Landy has a lot of work to do if he's going to answer my left over questions and finish this series with a bang.


  1. Ahhhhhhhh!!! Seriously, ahhhhhhh! You make this series sound so frigging awesome and I feel like I need to hunt it down. But then I am fearful as he kills off a character you loved and I don't know if my feels can take it! It's been 7 years since Deathly Hallows and I still haven't forgiven J.K. Rowling for that book. I'm definitely going to hunt the first one down at work and give it a try sometime soon, hopefully I end up loving the series as much as you do.

    1. That's because it is frigging awesome hunny! Having read these books months ago, it's wonderful to remember how much I love it. I do think the first book has the winning formula to encourage you to grab the next few because it did with me, but it's hugely diverse, full of paranormal and magic is I think you'd really like it, it'd be that something new for you ;)

  2. Woah, a really great review Amanda, I haven't read this series yet but it sounds really cool with all the paranormals and the focus on friendships. I'm glad you're enjoying this series and I look forward to your review of the series end.

    1. Thank you Jeann! I'm so scared for the final book, but I think it will be a great review ;)

  3. Oh YEAH, this series is the BEST!! Can't wait for the last book to come out, SQUEEEEEE!! I'm terrified that Derek Landy will kil everyone in end though, and if he does, I'M GOING TO BE A VERY ANGRY BOOKWORM. The cover isn't great...buuuut it goes with the rest of the series so I'm at least satisfied with that (because, y'know, mismatching covers in a book series is the bane of every bookworms existence).

    Lovely review!

    1. Wayy! Another Skully fan! I feel exactly the same! Isn't the current cover just a temporary one, I'm sure it is, it doesn't even have the title on it, so I do think we'll get a matching cover, they'd be foolish to change it now after 8 other books! :)


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