The Last Hour of Gann - R. Lee Smith

Whew,  what a story.  I'm a bit book hungover.  More to come, but I'll say that this story mesmerized me and I just could not put it down. 


Amber Bierce had nothing left except her sister and two tickets on Earth’s first colony-ship. She entered her Sleeper with a five-year contract and the promise of a better life, but awakened in wreckage on an unknown world. For the survivors, there is no rescue, no way home and no hope until they are found by Meoraq—a holy warrior more deadly than any hungering beast on this hostile new world…but whose eyes show a different sort of hunger when he looks at her.


Epic in length, scale and breadth, The Last Hour of Gann is not a read for the faint hearted.  At it's root it is a story of the indomitability and persistence of the human (lizard?) spirit.  There is also examples of courage and perseverance, love and devotion, cruelty and brutality, absolution and salvation.

I loved the romance, the way that Amber and Meoraq gradually came to understand each other.  Many instances of laugh out loud humor as they learn each other's language, tolerate each other's attitudes and eventually fall deeply in love.  I loved Amber who is opinionated, forceful, blunt and stubborn.  But she is also smart as hell and loyal beyond reason (omg, incomprehensible reason!).  She never let me down no matter what.  What she endures is incomprehensible and I applauded her bravery through it all.  

And then there is Meoraq.  Talk about character development.  He is an alien lizard warrior, the true instrument of his god and a ruler by birth.  His devotion and love for Amber is spectacularly orchestrated.  His change from an inflexible, singularly held religious existance to the understanding and care for someone so 'other' from him is unbelievable and amazing.  We see him struggle to reconcile exactly why he is so obsessed with this ugly, pathetic creature and how that fascination transforms to a fierce devotion and unwavering belief that god's will set them in each others path despite the incalculable odds.

I didn't like the endless stupidity of the human survivors and the relentless viciousness of Scott and his cronies.  Their inability to learn from their mistakes and adapt even a little bit strained credulity for me.  After things take a bleak turn more than halfway through I did start to feel fatigued from the endless brutality but the last third when events and circumstances came around full circle (and I was 100% sure they would) I loved the neatness of the ending at the shrine and it's smooth braid weaving all the threads of the story together.

Highly recommend but warning away anyone with trigger issues for brutality and sexual violence.