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Foundryside: A Novel (The Founders Trilogy)…
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Foundryside: A Novel (The Founders Trilogy) (original 2018; edition 2018)

by Robert Jackson Bennett (Author)

Series: Founders (1)

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3002556,755 (4.16)11
Member:avanders
Title:Foundryside: A Novel (The Founders Trilogy)
Authors:Robert Jackson Bennett (Author)
Info:Crown (2018), 512 pages
Collections:Your library, ROOTS Read, ARC, Short List
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Foundryside: A Novel (The Founders Trilogy) by Robert Jackson Bennett (2018)

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
A fun book with wonderful world-building, and a magic system that interposes magic scribings for technology. The uniqueness of the magical-tech had me hooked as I kept thinking how the characters in the story could create a new item, or use some bit of "tech" in a different way. The world-building, with a deep history that is revealed throughout the novel, building the suspense and revealing new details was very well done. I anticipated the outcomes of a few items of the plot, but there are a few twists and reveals that did surprised me. The characters are well-developed with complex histories that get in the way of their trying to survive, but also allow them to grow throughout the story. ( )
  GeoffHabiger | Jul 5, 2019 |
Sancia liked stealing. She was good at it. But after tonight, she might never need to steal again.
---
Sancia is a thief in a city without laws. Inside the walled compounds of the merchant campos, citizens live in relative luxury and peace. Outside, gangs compete in squalor and poverty. But Sancia’s about to escape all that. All she needs to do is steal a simple box for a client, and she’ll be richer beyond her wildest dreams. So long as the client pays her, of course. And so long as no one else tries to kill her first. And so long as whatever’s in the box doesn’t hold the key to completely uprooting everything Sancia knows about her world.

Robert Jackson Bennett is back. In The Divine Cities trilogy, he demonstrated an adept hand at worldbuilding and urban fantasy. Foundryside is no different. Like all the best urban fantasies, the city of Tevanne feels real. The magic system is clever and creative enough to stand on par with anything Brandon Sanderson has cooked up, with lots of room to evolve and grow.

Foundryside is essentially a heist novel. Like all good heist novels, this means a large cast of characters. I wish Berenice was better developed, but overall the characters are immediately likable and play well off each other. Bennett really excels at making you root for his characters, even when they all have conflicting goals. Simply letting the characters bicker and chat is often enough to make a good scene.

Foundryside is also hilarious. I don’t remember City of Stairs or the other Divine Cities books being so funny. But Bennett has really developed his humor here. Quite simply, Foundryside is a joy to read.

That being said, you could say the story’s a little predictable. The plot of the thief who stole something too valuable is fairly well-trodden material. So is the concept of a city built on the foundations of godlike beings who are now long gone and barely understood. Bennett explored that theme to its fullest in The Divine Cities, to glorious effect. The world of Foundryside is beyond cool, but I wish Bennett had branched out a little. And speaking of Brandon Sanderson, didn’t he already write several books in which inanimate objects have a degree of sentience (I am a stick!)? Not to mention some of the later plot twists are fairly obvious.

But in the end, any unoriginality or trope-reusing is ancillary. Foundryside isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel; it’s trying to be a fun adventure yarn, and in that regard the book succeeds handily. And seeing as I’ve read a lot of terrible books lately, I’m quite glad to have gone on this adventure.

Thank you to fantasyliterature.com for the free book! ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
I like Bennett more the further away he gets from 20th/21st century America. Sancia is a thief with a special talent—she can sense the world around her, especially scrived artifacts. Scriving is magic that changes the physical characteristics of the world—it can tell a wheel, for example, that it’s always rolling downhill, creating motive force on flat ground. It works a bit like computer programming with nested commands—it’s not surprising that Brandon Sanderson blurbed the book. Sancia is an escapee from the slave plantations where the families/consortia that monopolize scriving technology experimented on scriving human beings, in defiance of their own minimal laws; now she lives in Foundryside. When she steals an ancient artifact that talks back to her, her life gets even more dangerous. It’s a fascinating ride. ( )
1 vote rivkat | May 13, 2019 |
Review based on ARC (Advanced Readers Copy received for free in exchange for an honest review).

I received one of those e-mail notes via Goodreads from the author of this book, likely because I had read early reviewers by this author in the past and have immensely enjoyed his work. This will be the third book I've read by this author, and by far the best (though that in no way intends to diminish the others).

In his email, the author initially describes the book as a "fantasy" involving "thieves, magic, spies, smugglers, ancient mysteries, fallen kingdoms, intrigue of the political and courtly variety, or the trade empires of the Mediterranean Renaissance." Okay, I'm intrigued. He then adds that in is also about "coding, programming, hacking, software, firmware, database architecture, or corporate espionage." Hooked. I'm fully on board at this point. Nonetheless, he includes this: "If the phrase “the magic equivalent of database management” gets you hot under the collar – then this book really is absolutely for you (you weirdo)." It does, it was, and I am.

I'm at a point in my life where world-building in sci-fi or fantasy is not a luxury of which I feel free to partake. There is so little time, and so much to do. But Bennett's effortless world-building in both science fiction and fantasy was fully worth every brain cell required to properly build the images.

Foundryside, the first in a trilogy (the 2nd of which is set to come out in January 2020), is "about" a young girl in an "unmentionables" type of class, who has a special skill that allows her to be particularly good at thieving, smuggling, and spying. It's also about secrets and corporate espionage (ish) and the development of a police system and class dynamics. Bennett then adds an entire world of mythology and its history and a present and historical mystery, which I must have simply absorbed by osmosis because I hardly noticed it happening while I was flying through the story to figure out what was happening. He manages to also tack on coding, database architecture, and database management type stuff in a magical context---and I could not even begin to imagine how he was going to manage that---in a way that is clever, fascinating, and humorous, while somehow not getting bogged down in the details. And, yes, there's also a little romance thrown in... but not distractingly so.

The personalities of every single character in this book felt vivid and complex and true to me. The whole "database management" thing was something new in a world where new things are hard to come by (I mean this world, not Bennett's world). And the story was quick-paced, fascinating, and heart-filled. The book is also full of action, contains a spunky and strong-willed female protagonist (who is not just "spunky" for cuteness-sake, but actually has personality and cojones), and humor!

I one-hundred percent recommend this book. If you like a well-told story well-populated with all types of people, a story you can sink your teeth into, and a story that you will fly through, you will probably enjoy this. The story reads more like mythology than magic with some dark urban fantasy thrown in, but at its core, it is just a good story that has been well-told.

I add that I both read and listened to the audio recording (as always, at 1.5x speed). Although it took me just a little time to adjust to the narrator's tone, the audio recording was excellently done and is also recommended.

Overall, a solid FIVE of five stars. I cannot wait until January 2020. ( )
  avanders | May 4, 2019 |
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 |
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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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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.… (more)

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