Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
Series: Founders #1
Published by Crown on August 21, 2018
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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.
You know what more books need…More sentient inanimate objects. Some of my favorite things in some of the other fantasies I’ve read have been things like Nightblood, the sentient sword in the Cosmere series of Brandon Sanderson. Beauty and the Beast had an entire castle full of sentient everyday items – that was awesome. So I was really excited to find a new fantasy world where there is a very sentient Key and other items which are less sentient but seem to have a purpose all their own written into their very being.
Foundryside is a new series by Robert Jackson where the fabric of reality can be tweaked and you can convince doors to stay locked against anyone unless they have the right token on them, or wood to be as strong as stone or possibly you could even convince items that the laws of gravity don’t really apply to them. This is a very interesting world where if you know the right language you can rewrite the entire world around you.
Sancia used to be a slave on a plantation but that was before the entire thing burned. Now she is a thief and a damn good one. It helps that she has a special talent and can sense things she touches. When her skin contacts a wall for instance, she can sense who has been by recently, where the weak spots arewhich she can use to her advantage and the best place to climb. It is a great talent, but it would be better if she could also turn it off. Every time her skin contacts anything she attunes to it. So when she finds a key that can talk in her head, she is more than a little freaked out.
Clef is the said key and he is awesome. Nightblood (mentioned above) is one of my favorite talking items ever and Clef might give it a run for its money in the favorite department. He is funny, witty and has a very interesting past. Plus he seems to be able to trick other inanimate objects into going against their programing in some interesting ways. I love the friendship that builds between him and Sancia. As they become closer, we find out more about the past and the people who created this language which can literally rewrite reality.
This is mostly Sancia and Clef’s story but there are also some other key players introduced. Gregor is a former soldier trying to bring justice to a city that is divided into house sections in which the houses rule, there are no official laws and you are at the mercy of the ruling house if they take offense to something you are doing. He is a good guy but has absolutely no support in trying to bring law and order to even a small area of this city.
Orso is a master of his craft. He is the best at putting abstract concepts together and convincing reality to do new and interesting things. He also is obsessed with artifacts of old rumored to have more of the language he’s pieced together over his lifetime that converts reality. Clef might be a key to that in more ways than just one.
This was a tale with unexpected twists, great characters with complicated pasts and a threat that could literally rewrite the world the characters live in. I’m really excited to see how the next book builds into the overall arc of the story because this world and the way the magic/science works in it was refreshing and a new great twist. Oh the fun we shall have seeing how much reality can be changed without destroying everything we know.
Fantastic introduction to a new world. Even though there isn’t really much on the romantic horizon in this book there is just enough I remained completely interested and hopeful for a few characters in the future.
“The foundries did that first, ” said Sancia. ” Apparently that was where they first experimented with gravity, just so they could get all their machines to move around and work better. “
“Clever stuff. “
“Kind of. I hear it didn’t go totally flawlessly at the start, and a few scrivers accidentally quintupled their gravity or something.”
” Meaning? “
“Meaning they got crushed into a vaguely flesh-like object about as thick as an iron pan. “
” Okay, maybe not so clever. “
–Sancia and Clef
“And whoever made that thing is . . . good.”
“Damned good,” said Orso. “Amazingly good. That’s top-rate work, there! I feel sure if someone was that good in this city, we’d all know about it. Everyone would be lining up to lick his candle, I’ve no doubt!”