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Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
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Foundryside (2018)

by Robert Jackson Bennett

Series: Founders (1)

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2142480,218 (4.21)6

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Do we really need yet another girl++ thief, abused background, navigating a (not)steampunk urban blight? The pace of the tale is a sprightly cascade as the initial theft for hire turns into a fusillade of deadly threats. The 'magic', technology that re-writes reality is pretty interesting, and the characters work, but aren't really put through their paces. It didn't drag, but for me was a bit too long for the content. ( )
  quondame | Feb 6, 2019 |
Ah, I loved this book! I absolutely scrumming loved it! There's this little place in my heart that begs for gritty Fantasy. The kinds of stories that feature more than their fair share of backstabbing, and unbelievable twists. The kinds of stories where characters that I already love come to be characters that I can't dream of living without by the end of the book. That, my friends, was Foundryside. I'm smitten, and I don't care who knows it.

This story is heavily character focused, and I think it just works. Sancia Grado, our main character, is so much more than that just an epic thief. Bennett slowly, gently, draws the reader into Sancia's past, her present, and then leaves this beautiful opening for what will happen to her in the future. I was so attached to this proud woman after the first few chapters, that I actually legitimately cried when her backstory was revealed. Her character is an opportunity to showcase the damage that being someone's property does to a person, and Bennett weaves that whole story arc masterfully through the story. Sancia is definitely someone that you'll care about.

Further kudos go to the author for walking that really thin line between epic world building and forward plot movement. I never felt like I wasn't fully settled in Tevanne, but I also never felt like the book dragged to allow me to feel that way. I basically learned my surroundings by following along with Sancia, and seeing through her eyes. The dark alleys, the ramshackle homes, all stood in stark contrast to the shining campos. Bennett manages to say so much about equality, and the concept of self worth, without every actually saying anything at all. I can't even explain it to you, only promise you that it's a beautiful thing.

So, if it wasn't glaringly obvious, I have fallen in love with this series. I don't know what I expected from this book, to be honest with you. All I know is that it blew everything I have been feeling about cookie cutter Fantasy books completely out of the picture. This is good fiction. I absolutely cannot wait for more. ( )
  roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! CANT WAIT FOR Book 2. I met him at Dragoncon and he was so nice and we talked about this book. This is a must read new fantasy series!!!! ( )
  trlinatl | Dec 22, 2018 |
"The second the lash had touched her, all her pride and fury and hope had been dashed away. It was surprising, how fragile your idea of yourself was."

The new series of Robert Jackson Bennett (author of The Divine Cities trilogy) new series follows Sancia Grado, a thief who is good at her job, thanks to a set of unique abilities provided for her thanks to the metal plate in her head. When her latest goes awry, she finds herself in the middle of a battle brewing just beneath the surface – for Tevanne is about to undergo a transformation that has the power to change this magical society to its very core. Not only must she struggle for her life, but she must struggle to figure out who she is and what she has the power to become.

Although the premise of this story is right up my alley, I’m on the fence about how I feel about Foundryside.

On the one hand: I did like it. It was a fresh new adult fantasy with a rather interesting magical system that I enjoyed. It was this odd blend of an ancient-feeling setting and innovative technology and complex magic, but somehow it worked. I really liked Sancia and how she grew and developed as a character; she was broken and abused but found a way to rise from the ashes stronger than she had been before. She struggled and lost so much, but the strength and determination she wrought was so powerful. I also really liked Clef; he provided some much-needed comic relief as well as a balance to Sancia’s personality.

On the other hand, though: there were aspects of this book that I didn’t really like. Even though the story was interesting, I felt the execution was somewhat lacking. My main problem stemmed from the author’s need to endlessly explain every element of scriving ad nauseum, which was often done in the form of unnatural and forced conversations. Clef provided a good deal of frustration; while I thought he was an interesting character, the fact that he felt the need to define every little thing to Sancia – and Sancia to him; there was a scene where she described the origin of the word “scrumming” to Clef – got old quickly. While world-building of a new fantasy series is difficult, it has to be done subtly and without so much info-dumping, which was not the case in Foundryside. Another problem is that I felt a lot of the underlying messages were forced. Although some were subtly done, there were moments where the author felt more preachy than anything. As a side note, let’s also not forget to mention the author’s seemingly-random replacement of “vulgar” words (e.g. “scrumming” replaced a word starting with the letter “f” and “candle” replaced a certain male body part…) was unnecessary and a little jarring. Together, these elements made this feel a little clunky, which unfortunately detracted from my overall enjoyment of the story itself. I considered quitting half-way through (and, admittedly, did put it aside for about a month), and was only able to finish the second half by listening to the audiobook…

However, I do think, overall, that the author had provided a unique and complex commentary of today’s society under the guise of this magical and industrial city in another world. It was a story about how the wealthy enslave and control the poor; how women can be oppressed in society, and how they can rise above; how advancing the knowledge of society can be beneficial but can also corrupt those who seek it.

I do think I will continue this series because I really want to learn more, and hopefully it will be a slightly more fluid read since most of the world-building was done in this book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for a copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review!

https://allisonsadventuresintowonderlands.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/robert-jackso... ( )
  Allison_Krajewski | Oct 22, 2018 |
Initial thoughts: “Robert Jackson Bennett became an author to watch with his stunning City of Stairs trilogy. With his newest series, he entered my automatic read list. Mr. Bennett’s world-building is superb, and his stories are intense and complicated and exciting in all the best ways. However, it is with his characters where he truly shines, and Sanchia is one of the best heroines I have read in a while. She is feisty, fierce, more than a little capable, and intensely vulnerable. You cannot help but fall a little in love with her, even though she would probably punch you in the throat for doing so. Her supporting cast is equally impressive, and I am excited to see where their stories take them. Mr. Bennett’s stories are not the types for quick reading. Instead, I savored every sentence and will now wait patiently for the rest of the series.”

Now: My initial assessment still stands. Foundryside is a fantastic story. There is magic. There are legends. There is science. There are the human interactions which fuel the drama. There are the socio-economic strata that will always cause strife. There is a larger-than-life cast of characters which not just support but enhance Sanchia’s role as the hero. Nothing is black and white. The myriad shades of gray not only add action and drama, but they also serve as cautionary lessons that define and develop Sanchia as a character. The story is creative and intense, with the stakes being much higher than they initially appear to be. With a classic style of storytelling that takes its time, Foundryside solidifies Mr. Bennett’s place among my all-time favorite authors, and I eagerly anticipate the next book in the Founders series.
  jmchshannon | Oct 18, 2018 |
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All things have a value. Sometimes the value is paid in coin.Other times, it is paid in time and sweat. And finally, sometimes it is paid in blood.

Humanity seems most eager to use this latter currency. And we never note how much of it we're spending, unless it happens to be our own.
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The city of Tevanne runs on scrivings, industrialised magical inscriptions that make inanimate objects sentient; they power everything, from walls to wheels to weapons. Scrivings have brought enormous progress and enormous wealth - but only to the four merchant Houses who control them. Everyone else is a servant or slave, or they eke a precarious living in the hellhole called the Commons.

There's not much in the way of work for an escaped slave like Sancia Grado, but she has an unnatural talent that makes her one of the best thieves in the city. When she's offered a lucrative job to steal an ancient artefact from a heavily guarded warehouse, Sancia agrees, dreaming of leaving the Commons - but instead, she finds herself the target of a murderous conspiracy. Someone powerful in Tevanne wants the artefact, and Sancia dead - and whoever it is already wields power beyond imagining.

Sancia will need every ally, and every ounce of wits at her disposal, if she is to survive - because if her enemy gets the artefact and unlocks its secrets, thousands will die, and, even worse, it will allow ancient evils back into the world and turn their city into a devastated battleground.
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