Publication Date: August 21st, 2018
Page Count: 512
From the Jacket:
In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.
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.
Holy forking shirt balls, this book is fantastic! In Foundryside, Robert Jackson Bennett has created an epic urban fantasy full to bursting with a completely inventive magical system, mind bending scientific details, creative world building, vibrant characters and an impossible heist plot. It was completely addicting and I abandoned all of my nightly responsibilities until I finished it.
The city of Tevanne is ruled over by merchant houses, each vying against the other for power and money by selling magic. Through a magical technology known as ‘scriving’, inanimate objects are given coded commands which allow them to defy reality. (Here, Bennett spares no details, and describes in great detail how this technology works. It is absolutely enchanting and one of my favorite aspects of the book.) In order to scrive within the city, you must belong to one of the merchant houses, and gifted scrivers work to produce house designs in exchange for the comfort and safety of living within the house walls. Those that do not belong to a house live in extreme poverty and must fight daily to survive. Because of that, the city is also home to an active underworld of independent scrivers who create knock off designs for profit.
It is in this underworld where we meet Sancia, a talented thief with a very dark past, who survives life in Tevanne by taking risky jobs. After successfully pulling off a particularly difficult robbery, she breaks one of her rules, and opens the box she has stolen. It is the discovery of what the box contains that sets off a chain of reactions that cannot be undone. Suddenly, she finds that her business partner is dead and she is being hunted by a powerful group of assassins who are wielding a kind of power previously unseen in Tevanne. While hiding out on a rooftop, she sees one of the men chasing her turn off all of the scrived devices in the city at the touch of a single button, causing panic and devastation (imagine the scene in Revolution when all the power goes out all over the world).
Sancia barely escapes with her life, and in order to stop the men pursuing her, she partners with some very unlikely people. Together they discover a truly horrifying plot that will forever alter their world. Racing against a very tight timeline, they plan a crazy scheme to break into the most guarded place in the city and pull off the heist to end all others. The action does not let up until the very end, and the last few pages will leave you very impatiently waiting for more.
This book was so much fun to read! The plot moved quickly, and all the while Bennett built a vivid and realistic world, full of political intrigue, unforgettable characters and fascinating technical explanations about scriving. This is definitely not your typical fantasy novel. It gave me the same sort of vibes I got while reading the Broken Earth series, and if you enjoyed that crazy ride, I think this one is for you. Foundryside comes out tomorrow, so do yourself a favor and pick it up! A huge thank you to Netgalley and Crown Publishing for sending me this ARC in exchange for my honest review.