Foundryside Author: Robert Jackson Bennett Series: The Founders Trilogy 1 Publisher: Crown, August 21, 2018 Format: Hardcover and eBook, 512 pages List Price: US$27.00 (Hardcover); US$13.99 (eBook) ISBN: 9781524760366 (Hardcover); 9781524760373 (eBook)
“The exciting beginning of a promising new epic fantasy series. Prepare for ancient mysteries, innovative magic, and heart-pounding heists.”—Brandon Sanderson
“Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!”–Tamora Pierce–
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.
I started Foundryside with a bit of trepidation. I've read every novel that Robert Jackson Bennett has written and fell in love with his Divine Cities Trilogy - the first trilogy he's written. Could Bennett once again create a striking world with wonderful characters that drive the story? Could the plot again be compelling, deeply engaging and as exciting? Could I care about the characters as deeply? The answer to all these questions is an unequivocal "yes".
Foundryside is set in city of Tevanne which is run by four Merchant Houses. The Merchant Houses have monetized magic technology and have become rich and greedy. The areas in Tevanne not controlled by the Merchant Houses are lawless, grimy and extremely dangerous. One of these areas is called Foundryside and this is where we find Sancia Grado, an extraordinary thief. She's taken on a job to steal an artifact and has no idea what she is getting herself into. Because of this particular heist more than one person wants Sancia dead. In order to survive, she will team up with an unlikely group of individuals from within and without the Merchant Houses.
Sancia is a wonderful character - strong, flawed, damaged, funny, brave. She comes from a horrific background. She is such a remarkable thief because of something that was done to her; something that Bennett reveals slowly and the horror of it for Sancia (and the reader) is palpable. However, this is an ensemble piece and the people that Sancia encounters and works with are wonderfully developed throughout the novel. In their own rights each of the characters is remarkable. There are also plenty of bad actors and villains to go around. This world is full of gray and everything is not as black and white as it may seem.
The magic system is intricate and Bennett delves deeply into how it works and its antecedents. There is a lot of history of this world and Bennett does not skimp with explaining much of it while not overwhelming the story. There is still a great deal we don't know about this magical technology and this world. Social issues are touched upon as well - how the technological marvels created only benefit some and not all; how some people are disposable and others are elevated; and more.
While Bennett resolves the main plot of Foundryside he leaves open several questions for the upcoming novels. Note for those who don't like cliffhangers - there isn't one. There is mystery, nail-biting action, magic, technology, fights, heists, some gore, and much to love about this new world and these new characters. Bennett has done it again. Foundryside is a marvelously entertaining, thrilling and riveting start of a new epic fantasy trilogy.