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Tag Archives: Dark Fantasy
Great world buildings, eccentric characters, and a solid plot that keeps me guessing, will always catch my attention, and Foundryside, by Robert Jackson Bennett has all of that and more. In so many ways it’s also unusual–set in a tropical seaport town, of a world that has seen an apocalypse wrought by an unusual type of magic called “scriving” by the surviving, thriving, inhabitants.
The merchant houses of Tevanne, rediscovered the art, and used the power of “scriving” to conquer other cities, create empire, and spy on each other. The tools they create are powerful, arrows that vibrate so hard as they go through the air that they disintegrate; rapiers that accelerate when put into motion, because they believe they’re going so much faster, and can go through tree trunks; and suites of armor that barely need inhabitants to kill. So of course, they create these items, and more, behind their own walls. Each merchant house is nearly a city-state with their own culture.
The people unlucky enough not to be born to the houses, or useful to them, live in the commons, the areas outside their walls. Like Sancia, a very good thief, who has a rare ability of being able to listen, and understand the scrivings on objects–floors, walls, and locks. A job comes her way through her fence to steal an item that’s just arrived in Tevanne. Which is when everything goes wrong, of course. The item is a very old, rare, scrived artifact, from the original practitioners of scriving, and talks, in a way. Its name is Clef. And he’s freaked out that she can hear him. She’s very freaked out that he can talk! And life just gets more complicated from there, with scions of merchant houses run amok, scrived humans (which shouldn’t exist), the already slightly crazy practitioners of a fractured art, and a lot of people doing impossible things such as shooting crossbow bolts at our heroes.
Foundryside, Robert Jackson Bennett, Crown, New York, ISBN 978-1-5247-6036-6
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is dark fantasy, set in a world of manners reminiscent of 1700s Europe, and all that is bright and dark in that world. A gritty place of revenge by an underdog who should not be able to succeed, a school for assassins, a city built of the bones of a fallen god, where there is literally rarely a true night of darkness. All this makes the discord between the main gods seem…anticlimactic, normal or even anticipated. And of course, forbidden magic just to makes things more interesting.
Mia Corvere is ten when her father is part of a failed rebellion. He is hanged before her eyes. All of her family is dead or imprisoned, and she narrowly escapes death more than once, before becoming an apprentice assassin. Mr. Kristoff creates a very human character in Mia, and despite all she’s been through, and all she’s done, she’s still human. Both she, and her sidekick are smart mouthed, wry, and funny. Mr Kindly, a not-cat, shadow creature, has limitations, but aides Mia throughout. The author also contrasts the narrative of her early days with her teen years going to the Red Church of the Goddess of Night and Murder. The entertaining narrative is also accompanied by footnotes! And yes, please read the footnotes! Not only do you get back story, such as the dirt on the argument between the Goddess of Darkness and her Three eyed Husband of Light, but also more humor. Mia isn’t a hardened assassin, nor an action figure killing machine–(although, of course, to go through that punishment and keep on going….only in fiction & the movies!).
There is a lot going on in the book, who is the fallen god, really? Where did all the suns come from? Why do the shadows have such power, and whose side are they really on? While Mr. Kindly seems to be Mia’s familiar and friend, bonded at an early age, will he always be there for her?
This is definitely an adult book with blood, gore, murder, sex, etc. It is not Hogwarts. The reading may be slow for some, but if you got through Tolkien, this is no challenge.
And it’s only the first part! Godsgrave, is book two of the Nevernight Chronicle, to be finished in a third book.