Book Reviews: ‘Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men’, by Derek Landy
Last Stand of Dead Men
by Derek Landy Series: Skulduggery Pleasant #8 Published by Harper Collins Children's
on 29 August 2013 Format:
The eighth instalment - War has finally come. But it's not a war between good and evil, or light and dark – it's a war between Sanctuaries ... and Skulduggery and Valkyrie must team up with the rest of the Dead Men if they're going to have any chance at all of maintaining the balance of power and getting to the root of a vast conspiracy that has been years in the making. But while this war is only beginning, another war rages within Valkyrie herself. Her own dark side, the insanely powerful being known as Darquesse, is on the verge of rising to the surface.
REVIEW BY RACHEL HAMILTON
Star rating: * * * * * 5 out of 5
Oof! Just finished Last Stand of Dead Men and I feel like I’ve been fighting alongside Skulduggery, Valkyrie, Tanith and the rest for the last few days. When Derek Landy says on the cover, ‘No one is safe’, you’d better believe it. The book offers everything you’d expect from the eighth installment in the Skulduggery Pleasant series: action, action and more action, with the usual witty one-liners and spiky dialogue thrown in to the horror – slash – comedy – slash – adventure (homedenture?) mix.
There’s something timely about this tale of allies turned enemies. While I was reading, the world’s leaders were discussing the ‘red line’ other countries shouldn’t cross and many were questioning the wisdom of drawing this kind of ‘line’ in the ground. Maybe because anyone who’s spent five minutes in a school playground knows it just makes everyone want to poke their toe over it. So it was interesting to see Derek Landy put the ‘wise’ in a wisecrack that highlights the accidental arrogance of the Dead Men in their attempts to prevent war:
“Right”, said Valkyrie. “So you’re basically hoping that your reputations will make them run away?”
Skullduggery looked at her. “Well it just sounds silly when you say it out loud.”
And at a time when all you hear when you turn on the news are threats and bluster, there was something very relevant about Landy’s line:
“When he’s backed into a corner, Basahalani will talk big and talk tough and all the time he’ll be crossing his fingers and hoping that you don’t stand your ground.”
But I know nothing puts you off a book quicker than the suspicion it might be ‘educational’, so I should point out The Last Stand of Dead Men is also crazy, subversive and laugh out loud funny. You’ll get caught up and tossed about by the fast-pace and thrills of the battle scenes. Although, for me, the beauty of the book is it’s exploration of the stupidity of war and the horror of friends attacking friends. Because, in the words of Derek Landy:
“War is hell and it’s scary and how on earth is anyone supposed to know what side they’re on?”
Personally, I can’t wait for book nine to help me choose sides.
Overall, another cracker from Derek Landy, and a great book to get people talking and (weirdly enough) laughing about the themes shaping global events.
REVIEW BY RUBY, AGE 11,
Star rating: * * * 3 out of 5
Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men has been a massive hit with Skulduggery fans and everyone says it’s a brilliant eighth book to the series.
So we thought we’d do something different and see what it is like to a person – ME – who hasn’t read the first 7 in the series.
The short answer is – you probably need to read the first seven, otherwise it won’t make much sense.
I can recommend reading them because I can imagine how good they actually are. Derek Landy is a good writer – very descriptive, with lots of details that help you picture the places he’s describing. And, also, if you don’t read them you will find it hard to read this one.
There are a lot of characters and the chapters hop from one character to another. I had read the first 15-20 pages and there had already been about 10 characters introduced. Also some characters only appear once and then vanish completely – like Misery and Grandmother Dubhog Ni Broin. I would have liked to read everything from Valkyrie’s point of view because she was the character I felt closest to and I enjoyed following her story. Although it is hard to get a proper picture of the main girl characters when you know one has been possessed, one is a man in a woman’s body, and the other has a personality that is splitting in three!
Without reading the other books, I found it hard to tell who was ‘good’ and who was ‘bad’ – which might be something Derek Landy has done on purpose to make it feel like it’s a real war. Every time I thought I had worked it out, someone would change sides and start killing their friends! No wonder the cover says, ‘No one is safe!’ It’s because everyone keeps changing their mind about who they are trying to kill or kidnap!
Overall, I think it is a well-written book and I can see why Skulduggery fans love it, but I’d recommend reading the other books first.