enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Max Gladstone, Three Parts Dead

I read this book about 22-Aug-2014. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2012. This note was last modified Saturday, 30-Aug-2014 08:24:59 PDT.

This is book 1 of the "Craft Sequence" series.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Getting some attention in my bubble, both at Fourth Street and online, so I grabbed this from the library.

A fantasy in a world dominated by magic. Magic, at the higher levels, works kind of like law—it's all about the agreements between parties, and finding ways to exploit them. Magic firms have names modeled on our law firms, and the individuals have the kind of independence that senior partners do in law firms.

A defining historical event was the God Wars. A Maestre Gerhardt published Das Thaumas, which first postulated that humans could stop begging for miracles and take the power of gods into their own hands. The gods strike back. Now, gods are gone except in the old city of Alt Coulomb (whose name always leaves me thinking of the measure of electrical charge; but no reference seems to be intended). The rest of the world no longer has them; they do however have Deathless Kings (who are the sorcerers from the God Wars, still living and ruling their countries) in some areas.

Tara Abernathy, our protagonist, is thrown out of the Hidden Schools, which float high in the air. That's where Craftspeople train (the book always uses the appropriate gendered version).

Being "thrown out" is a rather literal process there. But she's good enough that she manages to control her fall well enough to survive that, and then crawl out of the desert they've dropped her in, and eventually make it home. Also, due to some rules interactions, they officially graduate her as part of the process (I believe they're bound to protect their students).

A little while and one minor adventure later, she's picked up by Elayne Kevarian of Kelethras, Albrecht, and Ao (one of the most famous firms) and taken to Alt Coulomb to investigate why Kos Everburning is now dead, and reanimate him at least enough to keep business moving (since he powers the whole city physically as well as being their god).

And that's where the real story picks up. The Cardinal Gustav the Technical priest, Novice Abelard, Cat the part-time member of Justice and full-time vampire junky, one remaining group of gargoyles, the former enforcers of law from before the death of Kos' lover [name] in the God Wars, and a vampire ship's captain, all play their parts. The death of Judge Cabot has to be settled as well as the death of Kos. And they turn out to be murders.

The lawyer for the other side is a very unethical practitioner who was one of Tara's teachers in school, and who worked with Ms. Kevarian on the previous case in Alt Coulomb that created Justice.

All in all it's a great story played against a great historical background. I see why people are talking about this one. And there appear to be two more already.


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David Dyer-Bennet