THE LAST LEGACY by Adrienne Young from @TitanBooks #BookReview #Fantasy
THE LAST LEGACY by Adrienne Young
Titan Books p/b £8.99
Reviewed by Nigel Robert Wilson
There is family, but business is business. This is the first lesson that eighteen-year-old orphan Bryn Roth has to learn when she finally joins her dead mother’s family in the trading port of Bastian, having been nurtured from an infant overseas in Nimsmire by her great-aunt Sariah.
This is a rich, fascinating, very readable tale of a young woman learning her role in what can only be described as a mafia family on the make, run by her uncle Henrik who has all the characteristics of a control freak occasionally given to violence. Every member of the Roth family has a function with the higher purpose of elevating the wealth and social standing of them all. Henrik intends to gain a merchant-ring to place him and his family among the Guild that rules the entire town and its economy.
It quickly becomes apparent that Bryn has been brought from across the sea to train the entire Roth family in the finer things of life, such as good manners and quality clothes that fit, to empower them to take on their intended future role as leading merchants in Bastian. This is a challenging task, as the Roths are, in reality, a ruthless gang of aspirational artisans who worship money and the power that money bestows on its owners.
This tale is more than just a moral story; it is about how a young woman develops her role within such an environment and then navigates such a motley crew towards their preferred destination. In so doing, she discovers many perils, which quite often start and finish at home. It is an education but not a happy experience.
One of her tasks is to be trained by Ezra, employed by the family as a silversmith, to pick a lock in order to discover trading information from the watchmaker Simon, who Henrik wants to recruit as the sponsor for the Roth application for a merchant’s ring. This task she performs competently but chooses not to tell all the information she discovers to Henrik, knowing that Henrik would only use it to blackmail Simon. In the process, she meets Coen, Simon’s son, who she discovers could potentially be her future husband.
Bryn, however, has other ideas as to her future. This is where the tension starts to build. It is subtly done, and this is where Young shows her talent as a story-smith. Before her untimely death Eden, Bryn’s mother had decided to open a tea-house as a place of entertainment for the merchant class. Henrik still owns the tea-house, but had left it derelict. Bryn takes up the task of re-launching the tea-house as a place for society to gather and gamble. Ezra makes her a set of dice for the latter purpose, and Bryn uses Coen to recruit more customers.
In the meantime, Ezra takes to disappearing at night to work as a shipyard apprentice. Bryn discovers this at about the same time as Henrik, and an unpleasant scene develops. This episode concludes with Bryn secretly nursing Ezra. Bryn also learns from Coen that Henrik had won Ezra’s employment in a fixed game of dice from Simon some years previously; as a consequence, Ezra has concerns about his own future.
The conclusion is that Henrik gets what he wants but at a price, as do Bryn and Ezra. One doubts very much if they will be allowed to live happily ever after. This is a good, absorbing tale priced at excellent value.