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Three Parts Dead (Craft Sequence) Hardcover – October 2, 2012

157 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Craft Sequence Series

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Editorial Reviews


“Max Gladstone has created a fascinating universe and equally fascinating characters. It's a world in which Magic is Craft, and religion has some very practical rules, and he shows it through the stories of some very interesting characters. This is his first novel. I can't wait for his second.” ―Jerry Pournelle, author of The Mote in God's Eye and Lucifer's Hammer

“This has so many of my favorite things: an intriguing world, fun characters, a puzzle of a story that manages to be both funky fantasy and legal thriller. Three Parts Dead is simultaneously fast paced and thoughtful, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.” ―Carrie Vaughn, author of the Kitty Norville series

“With his first book, Max Gladstone gives promise of being a true star of twenty-first century fantasy.” ―John Crowley, author of Little, Big and The Deep

“Max Gladstone has evidently devised a necromantic steampunk machine that enabled him to channel the Roger Zelazny of Lord of Light, cathect the Neil Gaiman of American Gods, and subsume the oeuvre of John Grisham, all with the aim of producing loopy, metaphysically-minded legal thrillers. It you doubt my conclusion, consider Exhibit A, the author's delirious and delightful first novel.” ―James Morrow, author of The Last Witchfinder and Shambling Towards Hiroshima.

“Combining murder mystery, corporate intrigue, and thaumaturgic fireworks, Three Parts Dead gives us not just an excellent urban fantasy, but a brilliant new world to explore. I can't wait to see what he does next.” ―Maragret Ronald, author of Spiral Hunt

About the Author

MAX GLADSTONE went to Yale, where he wrote a short story that became a finalist in the Writers of the Future competition. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Series: Craft Sequence (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765333104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765333100
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MAX GLADSTONE is a fencer, a fiddler, and a two-time finalist for the John W. Campbell Award. He has taught English in China, wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat, and been thrown from a horse in Mongolia. Max lives and writes in Somerville, Massachusetts, near Boston. He is the author of the Craft Sequence (Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, Full Fathom Five, Last First Snow).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Geonn W. Cannon on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Worldbuilding is an art form. It's quite a feat to pick a reader up and place them in a story set in Seattle or New York City and have them feel comfortable even if they've never been there. It's quite another for an author to tell their story in a world that only exists inside their head.

Max Gladstone makes it look easy. It's a world where Gods (plural) interact with their followers and have a more hands-on approach to the cities they're sworn to protect. On the mortal side, there are Craftsmen and Craftswomen who draw power from the stars to work their magic. These two powers come together in the steam-powered port city of Alt Coulumb, whose God Kos the Everburning has just died. Craftswomen, the devoted clergy facing a future without their God, a chain-smoking cleric, black-suited officers of Justice with a hive mind, incidental vampires, gargoyles! All of these disparate pieces come together in a story that goes where very few (if any) steampunk novels have gone before: the courtroom.

Why has there never been a steampunk legal thriller? This novel proves it can be done, and done very well. Is it because publishers think it would be boring? The court sequences in this novel, and hit all the old tropes (I half expected the opposing council to declare he was just a "simple country lawyer" at one point) with tongue firmly in cheek. And thanks to the setting, instead of boring legalese we get to see cases argued with magic in a display that wouldn't be out of place on the Vegas Strip. We've all seen steampunk pirates, policemen, cowboys, et al. It's time the steampunk lawyer got a shot at the big time.

I don't want to say this book is easy, because that would be an insult to the care and work that went into crafting such an amazing world.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Berg on October 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
With strong, unique characters, superior and highly imaginative world building, and an expertly structured plot that gradually builds in intensity until reaching a genuinely stunning climax, THREE PARTS DEAD is an absolutely brilliant debut that works on every level. In short, it's a secondary world urban fantasy murder mystery/legal thriller set in a steampunkish city, Alt Coulumb, that runs on the fire, heat, and steam of a literal, great and powerful god, Kos Everlasting, whose sudden death threatens Alt Coulumb's long-term survival and balance of power and sets the plot in motion. Enter Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, an infamous firm of necromancers, a partner of whom, Elayne Kevarian, charges their newest probationary hire, our strong, female, refreshingly non-Caucasian protagonist, Tara Abernathy, with solving the case of why Kos died, before they use their sorcerous skills to resurrect him.

What is so ingenious about THREE PARTS DEAD is how beautifully and economically it succeeds in all of its various sub-genres. It's far better than the majority of supernatural female detective novels out there. Tara isn't a sassy, sexy, confident gal in heels. Instead, she is a fiercely intelligent but green young woman still coming into her own. Having only recently been expelled from a sorcerous academy in the clouds known as the Hidden Schools, she has had a lot of training in the magical arts and is very good at them (in fact, her expulsion ironically had to do with just how good at it she is), but she has also never been out in the real world as a professional, so much of this is still very new to her, and this first case-unlike any I've seen in an urban fantasy mystery before-has a profound impact on her that could forever shape the course of her life.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Books31 on October 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The first thing I have to say about this book is wow.

From the 1st page to the last I was absolutely riveted. Even now having finished the book, the first thing I did after reading the last page was look up the authors website and see when the next book he's writing is coming out. If that's not a sign of a good book, I don't know what is.

Three Parts Dead has a fantastic combination of characters. All the characters are compromised, all them are filled with histories filled with shadows, and yet you find yourself rooting for these broken characters. I know you're supposed to love the protagonist, but in this case I really did. Tara is strong, smart, and full of piss and vinegar. Her history is almost as interesting as the back-story to the world here (which I personally could have read an entire series on and loved (not just a book but an entire series.))

That brings me to the second thing I absolutely loved about Three Parts Dead, the rich history of the God Wars and the system of magic that encompassed the book. As I mentioned before I could read an entire series about the God Wars, what was mentioned about this worlds history sound fascinating and thrilling. Gods battling against craftsmen and women (basically human magicians), and the transformation that occurs to these craftsmen over time, changing them from their human bodies, to something of the stars, all in all this whole history and back-story was fascinating. As for the system of magic, as a law student I loved the fact that Gladstone created an entire system of magic based on and for lawyers. Magic is based on contracts and agreements, with the craftiest and sliest being those with the most power.
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