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Three Parts Dead (Craft Sequence) Paperback – July 23, 2013
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“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
“Neil Gaiman and Jim Butcher are conjured for a China Miéville story about magical lawyers trying to revive a dead God in a steampunk city. Recommended: Hell yes!” ―Geek Speak Magazine
“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.” ―James Morrow, author of The Last Witchfinder
“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
“The combination of legal thriller and steam-powered fantasy may seem improbable, but Gladstone makes it work with an appealing cast and a setting rich in imaginitive details....the story remains suspenseful and fast-paced throughout, and the diverse, female-led cast is a joy to follow through the fascinating and unusual landscape.” ―Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Max Gladstone has created a fascinating universe and equally fascinating 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
“Sci-fi, fantasy and a murder mystery all rolled in one.... exciting and fast paced with unexpected twists and turns. It culminates in a big surprise ending.” ―RT Book Reviews
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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How did Kos die? It appears that too much power was drained from him. As with most gods, Kos was involved in a series of contracts selling off his excess power. Elayne and Tara must go through all his contracts and determine if something was wrong in one of them and if they underlie his death. To do so, they must draw on allies. Abelard is a young priest who was the one on duty when Kos died and who discovered it. He is in the service of the Cardinal and the entire religious hierarachy. Another ally is the vampire pirate who brings them to the city and who seems to have knowledge of the various contracts that Kos was involved in.
But there are enemies as well. Cat is part of Justice, the group that sees that all is well in the city and which punishes wrongdoers. They don't trust Tara and her investigation. Then there are the gargoyles who believe both Justice and Tara are their enemies. They serve a goddess who used to rule in Alt Columb but who disappeared eons ago. Most deadly is the opposing counsel in the court case. It turns out to be Professor Denovo who is the professor Tara battled in academia only to be bested by him. The stakes this time are much higher. Can she prevail?
This is the first novel in the Craft series and Max Gladstone's debut novel. It shakes up fantasy by borrowing from several genres and adding in new twists such as the entire legal overlay, the concept of gods that can die and the explanation for creatures such as gargoyles and vampires. There are alliances and betrayals and one can never be quite sure what is happening. It is a complex world without being overwhelming and the many layers provide Gladstone with lots of room for surprising twists and turns. This book is recommended for fantasy readers.
Which doesn't detract, at all, from the entertainment to be derived from the very physical fall from grace Tara, the protagonist, starts this story with and her subsequent recovery, rise, and return to her powers as she takes on the job of resurrecting a god. That earth-core deep underlying layer of reality to the gods and powers of the Craftsmen and Craftswomen shows in everything that happens, and so the subsequent consequences all feel right. Solid. And of a reality that has as many axioms as our world has. All the characters are all interesting, whatever side they are on, with a very realistic blend of choices made rather than rigid alignments. I'll admit that I hated the antagonist with a white hot hate... but enough said on that.
Get it, read it, get the rest... I am slowly plowing my way through all of them. But this seems to be a really good book to read to see if you want the rest.
World building: A+
I can't believe that a fantasy story that revolves, as this one does, around such legal niceties as contracts, can be this action-filled. This is one of the best books I've ever read. The world building and setting are not only fantastic, but highly original. We get magic and divine powers intertwined with legal and judicial systems. If you want to resurrect a dead god, you have to go through a civil suit to determine such matters as who has possession of the body and revivifying rights. Originality! There are beings of legend—vampires and gargoyles and maybe even giant sea serpents—and a legendary face-lift. There is a mystery to be solved. There is a legal case to be won. Cross-examinations! Clues and foreshadowing and shadowing throughout the text! A fantasy version of the Borg treks through the story! And a priest continually smoking a story of cigarettes—I don't ever remember reading a story which focused so often on smoking that could make a non-smoker like me like it! Am I shedding too little light on why these are tidbits of interest? Good. I don't want to spoil any of it, and everything I am ranting on about will be understood in retrospect after you read this novel.
And the prose! It's wonderful. Not perfect—I sometimes wanted to scream when a character once again did, and similes came a tiny bit too often—but wonderful and wonder full. I love this book. Bravo, Max Gladstone.