Thursday, August 23, 2018

Book Review: Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Title: Foundryside
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Publication Date: 23rd August 2018
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Divine Cities trilogy #1
Source: Review copy from publisher

Description: The city of Tevanne runs on scrivings, industrialised magical inscriptions that make inanimate objects sentient; they power everything, from walls to wheels to weapons. Scrivings have brought enormous progress and enormous wealth - but only to the four merchant Houses who control them. Everyone else is a servant or slave, or they eke a precarious living in the hellhole called the Commons.

There's not much in the way of work for an escaped slave like Sancia Grado, but she has an unnatural talent that makes her one of the best thieves in the city. When she's offered a lucrative job to steal an ancient artefact from a heavily guarded warehouse, Sancia agrees, dreaming of leaving the Commons - but instead, she finds herself the target of a murderous conspiracy. Someone powerful in Tevanne wants the artefact, and Sancia dead - and whoever it is already wields power beyond imagining.

Sancia will need every ally, and every ounce of wits at her disposal, if she is to survive - because if her enemy gets the artefact and unlocks its secrets, thousands will die, and, even worse, it will allow ancient evils back into the world and turn their city into a devastated battleground.

My thoughts: I haven't read anything by Robert Jackson Bennett before, but I thought the blurb sounded interesting, so I was excited to give Foundryside a go. It starts with a young woman called Sancia stealing a mysterious object for her unnamed client. She wouldn't normally take a job this big and complex, because the consequences if she gets caught could be death or the painful loss of a limb, but this time the money was so good she couldn't say no. She duly gets hold of the box, but she can't resist the urge to look inside - despite having been told specifically not to by the client - and see what someone would go to all this trouble for. It turns out to be a magical object that's totally different from anything else, and Sancia realises her client wont let her live with any knowledge of it.

The book hooked me quickly, with Sancia's street-smart attitude and a lot of action that painted a good picture of the city and how the magic in this world works. Be warned, it's not a short book. I found the 10-20% section dragged a bit, but then things picked up again and I got sucked right back in. The last 30% flew by, and where part way through there had been moments where I wasn't sure if I'd continue with the series after Foundryside, by the time I finished reading it last night I knew I need to read the next book!

The majority of the book is focussed on Sancia, but there are occasional short paragraphs from some of the other key characters. There are a variety of narrators, and I think Robert Jackson Bennett did a really good job at giving the main characters distinct personalities and motivations. I liked the character development of all the key players over the course of the book, and I'm interested to see what happens to them in the sequel.

With Foundryside, Robert Jackson Bennett has created an exciting, believable world and a plot full of twists. It picks up momentum as it goes along, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the second book in the series has in store for readers. Overall, I'm giving Foundryside 7 out of 10.


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