Hello fellow Nerds! Today, I bring you something I have not done in a very very long time. Something I never thought I would be asked to do again, by a publisher / author no less. And that’s a book review.
I do want to go over how this review happened, because I find it fascinating. Back in March 2018 I was contacted via twitter by a rep for a Publisher, asking if I wanted to get an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Robert J Bennett’s newest upcoming novel, Foundryside. This would be a SUPER early copy, full of errors, and physical only.
I declined at the time. I had nowhere to put it, I still didn’t have a PO Box for these sort of things (I still don’t haha) and wasn’t sure I would have time to read a physical copy of the book, much less an unfinished one. When I asked WHY I was being contacted (I have not reviewed books in like 2 years) the rep informed me that the author himself provided a list of people to contact, and I was one of them. I am still unsure how the author even knows who I am prior to now. The only thing I can think of is I THINK I once tweeted that his previous novels, the Divine Cities trilogy, would make a fantastic Tabletop RPG setting (And I stand by that. Those books are killer, as is the world).
I ended up forgetting about the entire thing and went along my merry way, until August 2nd. Suddenly the rep contacts me again, offering me a finished Hardcover edition! I ended up saying no, but would be willing to take an Ebook copy of the novel. And I got it.
This review is going to be spoiler free, and for a TLDR Summary, here: GO BUY THIS BOOK AND READ IT SO THAT BENNETT WRITES THE SEQUEL FASTER SO I CAN GET MY HANDS ON THAT GIVE ME THE SEQUEL ROBERT I NEED IT IN MY HANDS.
As I always do when I review a book, let’s start with the advertising blurb:
In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.
Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.
But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.
Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.
To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.
First and foremost I want to talk about the world that Robert Jackson builds in this novel. In a lot of ways it mirrors a cyberpunk dystopia, where the ruling class is made up of corporations who control all the power through technology. In this case, its merchant houses, 4 of them, who control the world via Scriving. And Scriving is best described, to me, as rewriting the computer programming of reality. For example, they use Scriving to trick wheels on carriages to think they are going uphill or downhill, thus creating horseless carriages they can drive and steer. Or they use Scriving on Crossbow bolts to make the bolts think that, when fired, they were actually already falling from space 6000ft in the air, and that down is actually forward. Stuff like that. It’s a fascinating magic system that I loved, and it makes sense in that the more you try to change somethings nature the harder it becomes. Making wood believe it’s actually stone isn’t that hard. But making something defy gravity? Near impossible. And you NEVER Scrive a human. Never ever. The results are…deadly.
This is the world that our characters (Sancia, Clef, Gregor, Orso, and Berenice) are living in and working in. And I love the characters. Sancia and eventually her friend Clef are the first two we get introduced to, and Sancia reminded me very much of Vin from the Mistborn trilogy. She is spunky, sassy, and very much a broken person, trying to eke out a living on the Commons as a thief, the area outside the merchant houses where only might makes right. She meets Clef however and her world drastically changes. Eventually we are introduced to Gregor, a man who is suffering from PTSD after being the sole survivor from a horrific event, trying to reform the broken city of Tevanne by creating an actual police force. Then we eventually meet Orso and Berenice, a pair of Scrivners who work for one of the houses and they get wrapped up in the madness that Sancia and Clef discover. All end up having to work together to deal with the greatest threat their world has ever known.
The plot is something I cannot go too much into without spoiling it, and I DO NOT WANT TO DO THAT. Understand that this story gripped me from beginning to end, to the point where I started reading on Friday night, August 3rd, and was done Saturday night, August 4th. No joke, I just could not put this book down. And while it ended in such a way as to be open to the sequels (its clearly already a planned trilogy) it did resolve all the major events that were brought up within it while leaving enough open to make me wanting more.
Usually I would say what I didn’t like about a book, but frankly, the only thing I did not like was that it ended. I adored everything about this novel. The writing, the pacing, the characters, the world was all stellar and if you are a fan of unique fantasy novels you really should check this out. It’s a page turner, nothing less, and I cannot wait for the sequel to see where Sancia and her friends go. Also, can I just say how refreshing it was to run into a book with very little romance, and what romance there WAS seemed natural? Oh, and it’s not between who you think it would be. I figured Sancia and Gregor, the two intro characters, would be the ones who hooked up. But nope! Sancia and another person end up making eyes at each other. Not going to say who though.
You will just have to read this to find out.
If other words, if you want a fantasy novel with a unique setting, fantastic characters, and a gripping story that will leave you wanting more then look no further than Foundryside.
Foundryside can be picked up at Amazon.com for $13.99 in Kindle, and $21.60 in Hardcover. It releases August 21st 2018. And if you want more of Robert Jackson Bennetts work I really suggest you look at his Divine Cities trilogy, starting with City of Stairs. It’s another EXCELLENT series.
Thanks for reading, and remember: Get those Crits, Take those Hits, Keep Pushing Through and remember to STAY NERDY EVERYONE!
Also, hey, if you wanna help me attend Gen Con in 2019, why not take a look at this post right here!