Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Locklands by Robert Jackson Bennett
Series: Founders #3
Published by Del Rey Books on June 28, 2022
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.
This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.
To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.
Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.
Robert Jackson Bennet won me over as a teller of unique and unusual stories when I was first introduced to him. That continues as I read more and more of the book from his imagination. Locklands is the conclusion to The Founders Trilogy following a group of characters thrown into new and increasingly dangerous situations in every book. If you’ve read RBJ before, you know that not all the characters you love will make it out alive and sometimes huge sacrifices will be made.
If Foundryside introduced us to scriving (altering reality with a kind of program of sorts on objects i.e. wood made to be as strong as concrete, locks to open only for certain people, bowls to heat contents to a particular temperature etc.) and Shorefall showed us how it changes societies then Locklands shows us how it could be used for good or evil to achieve actual creation or destruction. It has been eight years since the events of Shorefall when Sancia and Berenice’s lives were changed forever and a new enemy was born. Tevanne has had time to spread and take over about half of this world while Sancia and Berenice have fought against him every step of the way and created a strange society of their own, Giva. I really enjoyed seeing how time let some of the scriving abilities we saw through Shorefall develop and evolve into the societal structure of Giva.
Tevanne is scary, his/their goal is to open the door to the heart of creation and reset everything. Go back to a starting point with no humans, no scriving and completely start over wiping out all of current existence. Our team is fighting against a creature willing to sacrifice all of the humans at their disposal to achieve this goal and it is horrific. Sancia and Berenice will need the help of an enemy and the son of Clef if they even have a chance of survival.
Locklands is really a book where Clef shines, which makes sense he is a key to the lock for the center of creation. It really is his origin story and the rise of the Heirophants and how they became so powerful. The story of Clef and his son was one I was really interested in. We the reader learn why scriving can be so dangerous, not that as a reader you are not already seeing that. The magic this time around is immense and fighting with it even more so. But I missed a few of our key characters from the prior books quite a bit so some of the character chemistry felt off.
Locklands was a satisfying conclusion to a trilogy for me. Trilogies are rarely perfect in their wrap ups to stories but, it wraps up our story well with many emotional moments that will stick with me. This is not a ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ book. This is a hard choices and sacrifices made with a hope for the best for the future kind of book. I like those a lot better in fantasy as they feel more real. I will say Foundryside is still my favorite book of the trilogy but the other two are very strong, unique stories that build on the magic I first found in Foundryside.
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