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The Ruin of Angels: A Novel of the Craft…

The Ruin of Angels: A Novel of the Craft Sequence (Kindle Single) (edition 2017)

by Max Gladstone (Author)

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1204149,027 (4.11)24
Title:The Ruin of Angels: A Novel of the Craft Sequence (Kindle Single)
Authors:Max Gladstone (Author)
Info:Tor.com (2017), 576 pages
Collections:Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Your library

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The Ruin of Angels: A Novel of the Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone



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More fascinating worldbuilding, with a story set in the city of Agdel Lex. (Or Alikand, depending on what your memories are and how stable reality is around you.) Kai Pohala has come to Agdel Lex on business, and figures she'll reconnect with her sister Ley while she's in town. From there, I'll leave the summary to the publisher, who does a better job than I'm going to manage, although I'll add that there's a lot more going on than will fit on the back of a book. (The) Ruin of Angels—like Agdel Lex and Alikand, there is a bit of slippage with the title of this book!—has a large cast of characters, but Gladstone does a good job of making them distinct, and even the ones with small parts feel essential to the book. Most of them are women, and it's great to both see so many female characters and at the same time have it not matter all that much to the story (similar to Kai being transgender). That is, the story doesn't depend on that—no female-only magic needed to save the world or anything.

No, the book's not perfect. A lot of characters makes for a lot of plot threads, some of which were hard for me to keep track of. The pacing was a bit slow to start, and I admit to just getting lost at some point during the train heist. This may be a book that will fall into place better on a second reading, now that I know where it's going. But I loved reading it, and am eagerly waiting for the next book in the series. ( )
  Silvernfire | Feb 4, 2018 |
I love the Craft sequence. And this book features some of my favorite characters in it. The setting is compelling, the characters are well-drawn, and the resolution is satisfying. ( )
  lavaturtle | Oct 25, 2017 |
Another novel in the Craft sequence, focusing on Kai Pohala and her estranged sister Ley, as well as Tara Abernathy. There’s a heist that attempts to take advantage of/revenge for the way Agdel Lex has been broken into different cities occupying overlapping space time, one of which is illegal to visit. There’s some magical investment stuff that is sort of a parody of SF startup culture (guys in plaid and beards talking about disrupting magic by connecting individual souls with individual creations), and a plan described as “sheer elegance in its simplicity,” which made me wonder if Gladstone was playing a little too close to the edge. And the plot depends a lot on people not telling each other things; Kai and Ley had enough estrangement that it kind of made sense for them, but then it happened again and again, and while Gladstone gave a coherent reason each time, it started to feel contrived. But I enjoyed the book, as usual. ( )
  rivkat | Oct 18, 2017 |
Max Gladstone returns to the world of his Craft Sequence and especially the character of Kai, a protagonist in the prior novel Full Fathom Five. While there are references to the events of that novel, the plot stands on its own. I don’t know if it’s the first book I’d suggest as an introduction to the series, but it could work, especially if you’re looking for a fantasy book with queer female characters.

Also, I think I can keep this review free from spoilers of prior books. So read without fear!

Kai is in Agdel Lex on a business trip (they’ve got a tech industry, mainly centered around the nightmare telegraph), and she hopes to reconnect with her sister, Ley, while she’s there. But Ley’s tangled up in something Kai doesn’t understand. All she knows is that she has to help her sister.
Yet, that isn’t all Ruin of Angels is about. During the God Wars, the city of Alikand became a battleground and ruins. The city of Agdel Lex was built on top of Alikand by a colonial empire, the Iskari. Yet the existence of Agdel Lex is precarious, balanced over the alternate reality of Alikand and the dying city. It’s possible (if dangerous) to venture into the dying city, but the Iskari Rectification Authority is rigorous in tracking down anyone who breaches the realities.

Besides Kai, the other main POV character is Zeddig, Ley’s ex-girlfriend. Zeddig is a native of Agdel Lex/Alikand, and her life’s mission is to save as much of her people’s history as she can. She dives into the dying city to rescue books, which she then returns to the proper owners if she can. Near the start of Ruin of Angels, Ley comes to Zeddig with a deal: she needs Zeddig and her crew (two other queer women!) to help her pull of a heist. In return, she’ll give Zeddig technology that will let her delve into the dying city for longer than ever before.

And thus Ruin of Angels is also the story of an indigenous people trying to preserve their culture and history in the face of colonial oppression. While the Craft Sequence may take place in a world of talking skeletons, demons, and dragons, it never fails to reflect on our own modern world and the challenges that come along with it.

Indeed, Ruin of Angels looks set to propel the course of the Craft Sequence’s world even closer to ours, with the idea of space exploration and technology being introduced. I can’t even tell you how much I love this idea! It’s not something that I’ve seen explored before in fantasy. Then again, that sentence could apply to so many things in the Craft Sequence. This series is brilliant, imaginative, and truly unique. I never fail to appreciate it’s combination of modernity and magic.

I also love how these books consistently have a diverse cast and well written female characters. In fact, almost all of the major players in this book are women! I was very excited when Tara, from Three Parts Dead, made an appearance. It’s always neat to see familiar characters through new eyes. As I’ve already mentioned, this book has a lot of queer female characters in important roles. Kai’s trans, her sister Ley is lesbian, Zeddig is also lesbian, Zeddig’s partner in crime is bi, and there’s her love interest as well. It was delightful.

However, I don’t think Ruin of Angels is my favorite Craft Sequence book (that title’s preserved for either Full Fathom Five or Last First Snow). It didn’t drag me in as hard as the best of the Craft books, and I think it had problems with pacing and tension at times. Still, it’s a Craft Sequence book. A weak Craft Sequence book is still going to be fantastic.

Ruin of Angels once again proves that if you’re not reading the Craft Sequence, you’re really missing out.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.

I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review. ( )
1 vote pwaites | Sep 5, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Max Gladstoneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Montes, GoniCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Steph, for everything.
And to Hal, with love, and my apologies, especially for that one time in Shanghai.
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Ley built her sandcastle below the tide line.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The God Wars destroyed the city of Alikand. Now, a century and a half and a great many construction contracts later, Agdel Lex rises in its place. Dead deities litter the surrounding desert, streets shift when people aren't looking, a squidlike tower dominates the skyline, and the foreign Iskari Rectification Authority keeps strict order in this once-independent city--while treasure seekers, criminals, combat librarians, nightmare artists, angels, demons, dispossessed knights, grad students, and other fools gather in its ever-changing alleys, hungry for the next big score.

Priestess/investment banker Kai Pohala (last seen in Full Fathom Five) hits town to corner Agdel Lex's burgeoning nightmare startup scene, and to visit her estranged sister Ley. But Kai finds Ley desperate at the center of a shadowy, and rapidly unravelling, business deal. When Ley ends up on the run, wanted for a crime she most definitely committed, Kai races to track her sister down before the Authority finds her first. But Ley has her own plans, involving her ex-girlfriend, a daring heist into the god-haunted desert, and, perhaps, freedom for an occupied city. Because Alikand might not be completely dead--and some people want to finish the job.
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