DiscoverFantasy

Liars Called

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Worth reading 😎

Alternately brilliant and mind-boggling, Liars Called is a complex adventure story that never quite lives up to its opening chapters.

Liars Called is not an easy book to review — and it's not an easy book to read.


Author Stephan Morse begins his story with one of the more compelling opening sequences I've read in a while: Lance Hawthorn Underwood, currently undergoing physical therapy after a near-debilitating car accident, is invited to board a mysterious bus. (We follow this story through Lance's journals, which include additional notes and corrections. An excellent way to keep the reader hooked.)


Once on the bus, a creature with pointed teeth gives him some advice:


Heed the clues. The bold are quickest to die. The fearful die almost as fast. A clever man may be tempted to lie, and also die. But to survive, one must be a little of all three.


Each passenger is given a "debt card" and told that everything has a price, and for the first third of the novel we follow Lance as he learns how this new world works, how to use his debt card, and what "the bold are quickest to die" actually means.


However, the remaining two thirds of the novel never stand up to the brilliance of the opening. Once Lance understands the basic mechanics of the world, the story devolves into an extended Dungeons and Dragons session, in which characters who literally identify themselves as "the tank" and "the healer" (Lance is, of course, the rogue) slash at monsters for pages on end.


Lance repeatedly comments on the derivative nature of this world, wondering why his current situation so closely resembles D&D and video games. By the end of the book, we understand that Lance might get an answer to his question in the sequel — but many readers might not make it that far.


If I could review the opening six chapters on their own, Liars Called would get five stars.

Reviewed by

Writer, editor, and teacher. I review one book a week at NicoleDieker.com as part of my daily posts on the art and the finances of a creative career. Am interested in books on writing and publishing, literary fiction, and SF&F.

Establish Boundaries & Do Your Homework

About the author

Stephan Morse was born the year 1983 in San Diego. The next fifteen years were spent slowly escaping California and surviving a public education system. Thus far he's made it to the Seattle (WA) region with little desire to go further. view profile

Published on February 26, 2019

90000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Fantasy

Reviewed by