Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review.
Last Heir of the North marks a first in the Black Lotus series. The story itself is split into two, with the first following the ongoing story with Jie, Tian, Wen, and the other members of the Black Lotus as they continue their mission to discover who is plotting against the Emperor. This plotline jumps heads between the above-mentioned characters and their captive, Fixer Zhang. It shows the different threads of their investigation and also helps highlight the growing tensions within the group. While this half felt a little weaker, it does have some excellent character moments, particularly for Jie as she becomes more and more obsessed with uncovering Lilian’s history and motives, possibly even if it jeopardizes their main mission. Her struggle and reactions are my favourite part of this section.
Accounting for the other half of the book are glimpses into the past seemingly triggered by the memories that Lilian implanted into Fixer Zhang’s mind. Rather than tell these exclusively from Lilian’s perspective, these sections also head-hop, showing Jie, Lilian, and occasionally Wen, as they grow from children being trained at the Black Lotus Temple, to becoming courtesans in the Floating World. and the growing relationship between Jie and Lilian. But what this storyline primarily follows is how Lilian came to the point of betraying the clan and honestly, from what is described, it’s difficult to fault her for wanting out, by any means necessary.
How well Last Heir of the North works for you as a reader will likely depend on how well you handle the constant back and forth between the present storyline and the flashbacks. For myself, I enjoyed it a lot and feel this is the best installment in the series so far.
4 out of 5 implanted memories.