Foundryside (Founders, #1)
In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself--the first in a dazzling new fantasy 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.

Foundryside (Founders, #1) Details

TitleFoundryside (Founders, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 21st, 2018
PublisherCrown
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction, Adult

Foundryside (Founders, #1) Review

  • Brandon Sanderson
    January 1, 1970
    Foundryside by Robert Jackson BennettWe’ve been looking for a chance to blurb Robert Jackson Bennett’s fantasy novels since my assistants Peter and Isaac loved City of Stairs when it came out in 2014. Now we have our chance. Bennett’s new novel, Foundryside, releases on August 21st of this year, and it is quite a bit of fun.RJB filled The Divine Cities trilogy with unique world building, and I’ll be honest, the first chapter or two of Foundryside had me wondering if he’d abandoned that for a mor Foundryside by Robert Jackson BennettWe’ve been looking for a chance to blurb Robert Jackson Bennett’s fantasy novels since my assistants Peter and Isaac loved City of Stairs when it came out in 2014. Now we have our chance. Bennett’s new novel, Foundryside, releases on August 21st of this year, and it is quite a bit of fun.RJB filled The Divine Cities trilogy with unique world building, and I’ll be honest, the first chapter or two of Foundryside had me wondering if he’d abandoned that for a more-standard fantasy setting. Almost as quickly as I wondered that, intriguing things started happening, and I realized that this wasn’t going to be just another fantasy novel with all the trappings of every other fantasy novel. RJB wasn’t going to let me down.Foundryside follows the thief Sancia Grado, a very likable character with a mysterious past, magical abilities particularly useful for a thief, and a drive to get a job done and do it well. At the first of the book, she’s sent to steal something from a safe in what she thinks is a pretty straightforward job, albeit a difficult one. Once she finds out what she’s been asked to steal, then things really get cooking.RJB’s work reminds me a bit of China Mieville’s Bas-Lag novels, but RJB’s writing, while beautiful like Mieville's, is a lot more accessible. The story and writing is even more accessible in Foundryside without losing the things that made the Divine Cities series so fascinating, things like: intriguing characters wrestling with important questions. What are the consequences of tinkering with reality? What are the moral implications of doing so?Of course, along with important questions and moral implications, RJB manages to to do some really awesome and fun things with the magic system.For WritersPay attention to RJB’s use of what I call the Grand Skill, which has come a long way since City of Stairs, whose dense first chapter hadn’t quite struck the right balance. In short, the Grand Skill is worldbuilding without readers knowing that you’re worldbuilding. In a limited third-person viewpoint, everything you see from a character’s eyes must evoke worldbuilding, plot, and character.How do you show character, setting, plot, and a magic system without telling the reader directly about all of these things? How do you let readers know things without explicitly stating them on the page? RJB can teach you a thing or two, certainly.Aside from a few infodumps about the magic system near the beginning of the book, Robert Jackson Bennett does an excellent job at building the Machiavellian city of Tevanne and the larger world through the viewpoints of a few main characters.Watch how he also meticulously expands the worldbuilding, rarely giving too much at one time, doling out information only as the reader needs it. And little by little the reader gets a more complete vision of the world and the characters in it.The Short VersionFoundryside is the exciting beginning of a promising new epic fantasy series. Prepare for ancient mysteries, innovative magic, and heart-pounding heists.Rating NotesI would give this book a strong PG-13 rating. There are a few somewhat bloody descriptions of horrible deaths. They’re not dwelt on for particularly long, but sensitive readers might be turned off. There are also some euphemistic references to body parts and sex along with one sex scene seen from afar. It only lasts a few sentences, but it is a disturbing image even if it’s meant to villainize a certain character. As for language, there’s a lot of use of the so-called “s-word,” but otherwise the language is dialed down from much of RJB’s other work. For example, the F-word is not used, but is replaced with the word “scrum,” the meaning of which is explained so there’s no doubt as to its euphemistic meaning.Bias NotesNot only did we receive a copy of this book for free, but my assistants Isaac and Peter are already predisposed to like Robert’s books.
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  • ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
    January 1, 1970
    🥇🦐 Shrimpiest Book of the Year Award Nominee! 🦐🥇Actual rating: 6.848697 stars. And a half.Okay. So this book is so bloody fishing scrumptious I don't know where to start. By foaming at the mouth maybe? Not a bad idea, actually, that usually works pretty well for me.Oh yes, I feel much more inspired now. Not to mention super sexy and irresistible and stuff.Okay. I can do this. Let's see. Where to start? Oh yes, The Divine Cities. You know, the slightly wondrous trilogy that brings instant doom an 🥇🦐 Shrimpiest Book of the Year Award Nominee! 🦐🥇Actual rating: 6.848697 stars. And a half.Okay. So this book is so bloody fishing scrumptious I don't know where to start. By foaming at the mouth maybe? Not a bad idea, actually, that usually works pretty well for me.Oh yes, I feel much more inspired now. Not to mention super sexy and irresistible and stuff.Okay. I can do this. Let's see. Where to start? Oh yes, The Divine Cities. You know, the slightly wondrous trilogy that brings instant doom and self-combustion to those Puny Barnacles who haven't yet heard about it/read it/rated it 10+ stars? Yes, that trilogy. Well it turns out the books in said trilogy are some of the very bestest I have ever read in the entirety of my entire nefarious life. And it just so happens that this little book right here was written by The Divine Cities' Divine Daddy (DD™), Robert Jackson Bennett. Imagine that! What a coincidence and stuff!Anyway, I was offered an ARC for Foundryside, and I must admit I almost didn't accept it. I mean, there are so many glorious Historical Romances waiting for me on my to-be-read shelf! How could I carelessly dismiss them in favor of a silly Fantasy book written by some moderately talented guy I've repeatedly asked to marry me I kinda sorta not completely dislike and stuff? Quite the predicament this was, I must admit. But, being the civilized, friendly, eager-to-please overlord that I am, I ended up accepting the ARC. Because it was the polite thing to do, obviously. And not because I was slightly excited at the prospect of reading this book. And certainly not because the mere thought of holding it in my undeserving little pincers made me feel a little like this:Nope nope nope. Absolutely not and stuff.Soooooo, it's time for the crap to be cut! You want to read this book because:① I will unleash my murderous crustaceans on you if you don't. QED and stuff.② One of the mostest originalest world-buildings in the history of mostest originalest world-buildings this is (view spoiler)[One of the other mostest originalest world-buildings in the history of mostest originalest world-buildings being that of Divine Cities. Just so you know. You're welcome (hide spoiler)]. Believe me, my Flimsy Decapods, you've never read anything like this. Imagine a city reminiscent of Medieval Venice, ruled by power-hungry lovely merchant families bent on scheming acting benevolently 24/7. What? You think this ain't no original stuff? Ha. You clueless Arthropods you! Now imagine a city reminiscent of Medieval Venice, in a world where lexical magic is used to alter the reality perceived by objects so as to modify their behavior and confuse the fish out of, um, you know, reality and stuff. Sorry, what? You no compute? Don't you worry your little selves about it. Just read the book and thank me profusely later.Anyhoo, all you really need to know about Foundryside is: magic and science and technology, oh my! Welcome to Robert Jackson Bennett's Lusciously Delicious Industrialized Magic World (LDIMW™)! It's so beautifully complex and rich and well thought-out and amazingly detailed that this book should have been more boring than watching elderly barnacles copulate! Or than reading coma-inducing Locke Lamora and The Blade Itself back to back! But it wasn't! It was reasonably exciting and gripping and titillating and stimulating and intriguing! And a little thrilling, too! Because spoiler spoiler spoiler! And because Simon Indy says don't play with obscure artifacts! And because History and ancient, magic secrets will always bite you in the exoskeleton! You'd know this if you'd read Divine Cities and stuff! You know, it's that relatively enjoyable series I may have mentioned before! I think! Not sure though! Uh-oh! Looks like I'm suffering from a very sudden, very acute case of Severe Exclamationitis! This is most troubling indeed! Please someone fetch Dr Prawn at once! Yep, pretty much.③ High Security Harem-worthy characters galore! I'm adopting kidnapping them all! Bloody fishing shrimp, it's getting crowded in the RBJ wing of my harem. If the man keeps this Ridiculously Amazing Characterization Business (RACB™) going much longer, I'll have to build an extension and stuff. And I fully expect him to foot the bill and stuff. I mean, is it my fault if he writes characters I just cannot resist locking up protecting? Obviously not. The man dangles some of the most mouthwatering female characters in Fantasy today and I am supposed to stoically remain stoical? Right. Glad you agree with me on that one. Long story short: I am quite innocent, and Poof Gone Kidnapped and stuff.Oh wait, I haven't told you who it is I was kidnapping! Well, apart from the whole cast, I mean. Sooooo, we have Sancia the super yummy, kick-ass, refreshingly uncontained thief who hears all the objects and things and stuff she touches (don't ask) because spoiler spoiler spoiler (I told you not to ask, didn't I?) Then we have Clef the spoiler spoiler spoiler who might be the mostest unexpectedest, awesomest, funniest sidekick in the history of mostest unexpectedest, awesomest, funniest sidekicks. Then we have Gregor the delectably reluctant hero who spoiler spoiler spoiler with his spoiler spoiler spoiler. Then we have Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler (not the character's real name, in case you were wondering) who would make both Q and Inspector Gadget proud. Then we have exquisitely grumpy Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler (not the character's real name, either) who may or may not spoiler spoiler spoiler the spoiler spoiler spoiler and vice versa. Then we have…Sorry what? You've got boring things to do and uninteresting places to visit, and want me to get a move on and stuff? Oh, fine. Such a bunch of subaquatic party poopers you Brooding Arthropods are sometimes. There's just one last thing I want to add before you resume your fascinating activities: there are deliciously evil, wonderfully treacherous bastards and bitches in this book. Yes there are. Which is definitely worth a celebratory dance, if you ask me.I recently attended Fleet Admiral DaShrimp's Smooth Moves for Undercover Crustaceans webinar. It shows, huh?④ The story is exciting and gripping and titillating and stimulating and intriguing and a little thrilling. I've already told you as much? Are you quite sure? I don't think I did. Maybe you should stay away from drugs and alcohol for a while, my Little Barnacles. They seem to be affecting your ever-flailing mental abilities. But anyway. So the story is kinda sorta bloody shrimping fantastic. It's an action-packed adventure full of, um, you know, action and stuff. And full of suspense, too. And mystery. And twists. And surprises. And revelations. And emotional stuff that does weird, unmentionable things to my black, withered heart. And a whole lot of hahahahahaha dialogues. And fantabulicious heists. And cool (if manically happy) contraptions. And severed limbs (which are always a plus, if you ask me). And flying assholes. And keys that orgasm when they open doors (I kid you not). And pretty excited dead guys. And neurotic scrivings. And people exploding. And aggravating shackles. And the apocalypse. Or thereabout.(view spoiler)[I'm very not sorry but the following cannot be helped. Don’t blame me, blame RBJ. (hide spoiler)]⑤ The finale will leave you feeling both like this:And like this:Robert Jackson Bennett, have you ever thought of changing your last name to Dun Dun Dun? Because you totally should, methinks.➽ And the moral of this I Liked this Book a Little But It's Not Like It's One of My Favorite Ones Ever of Course Not Don't Be Ridiculous Now Crappy Non Review (ILtBaLBINLIOoMFOEoCNDBRNCNR™) is: RBJ, it's a good thing you've already started writing book 2 in this series. Not that I want to read it or anything, but other people might. Now if I was, say, somewhat interested in continuing with what promises to be a relatively magnificent series, I would maybe send a few platoons of murderous crustaceans to, um, you know, threaten watch over you, thus ensuring you, um, you know, wrote the sequel to this book post-bloody-shrimping-haste in the most positive, pleasant atmosphere. See? Kindness is me. Also, no pressure and stuff.Thanks so much to Kathleen Quinlan and Crown Publishing for sending me an ARC of this book! I shall forever be full of grate and stuff![Pre-review nonsense]There is a slight chance that I might have enjoyed reading this book a teensy little bit. Maybe. Possibly. Perhaps. There is also a slight chance that this book might be one of my favorite ones ever. Maybe. Possibly. Perhaps. Not sure though. I'll have to get back to you on that one and stuff. As soon as I finish jumping up and down up like a 13-year-old fangirl on acid.What? You don't think that girl is 13? Of course she is. She looks much wiser than her years, that is all.This originally original fantastically fantastic world.This yummily yummilicious cast of High Security Harem-Worthy Characters (HSHWC™).This grippingly gripping, twistily twisty plot.This spoilerishly spoilerish spoiler spoiler spoiler.This stupendously stupendous every-bloody-shrimping-thing.➽ Full Mr RJB You Already Rejected My Marriage Proposal Once You Do Not Want to Turn Me Down Again and Have Me Become More of a Homicidal Maniac Than I Already Am Do You Now But Hey No Pressure and Stuff Crappy Non Review (MRJBYARMMPOYDNWtTMDAaHMBMoaHMTIAADYNBHNPaSCNR™) to come.(view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)][April 24, 2018]Bloody shrimping hell of the slaughterish decapod!!!!!I'm getting a Robert Jackson Bennett of the Amazingly Scrumpalicious Divine Cities (RJBotASDV™) ARC!!!!!Ahhhhhhhhhhh and stuff!!!!!Let's daaaaaaaance and stuff!!!!!Also,
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  • Carol.
    January 1, 1970
    Robert Jackson Bennett is one of the few authors I watch out for. Recently, I finished his early award-winning book (Philip K. Dick, Edgar, Anthony), The Company Man so I was very excited at the opportunity to read an advanced reader copy of Foundryside, his latest work.Bennett has a habit of starting out a book slow, letting the reader get a feel for the world and the characters before heading into action. He's gotten better at that through his career; Foundryside springs into action on the fir Robert Jackson Bennett is one of the few authors I watch out for. Recently, I finished his early award-winning book (Philip K. Dick, Edgar, Anthony), The Company Man so I was very excited at the opportunity to read an advanced reader copy of Foundryside, his latest work.Bennett has a habit of starting out a book slow, letting the reader get a feel for the world and the characters before heading into action. He's gotten better at that through his career; Foundryside springs into action on the first pages during an elaborate heist. Skilled independent thief Sancia is in the midst of stealing an object in a safe, although she accidentally burns down half the waterfront in the process. Unfortunately this attracts the attention of Gregor Donaldo, head of security at the waterfront and noble heir, as her actions have jeopardized his long-term plans for a neutral police force in a decidedly partisan city. For me, this had a decidedly new adult feel, a bit younger than I enjoy. I think I appreciated the more seasoned characters in his Divine Cities series and in some of his other works. He also seems to be experimenting a bit with world-building in this one, and I felt his magic system was far too detailed with too much information-dumping (Brandon Sanderson owes readers an apology). Thankfully, I had the experience of knowing Bennett and his interesting stories to keep me pushing through. I persevered and around page 99, found that the story was finally gripping me.The plot is essentially a series of heists and cops-and-robbers that takes place in a city controlled by merchant houses who have a complete disregard for the underclass. It's not an unusual setting, and I appreciate Bennett's attempt to create a more 'realistic' vision of the proto-Renaissance setting so many fantasy authors love to play in. However, beyond the Commons area as a dirty cesspool where bodies were literally left to rot on the streets, and the gated merchant communities as pristine, light-infused compounds, I didn't get much of a sense of how the two pieces fit together.The magic system is complex, using a system of 'scriving' on objects to 'tell' them what their purpose is and how to interact with the world. Bennett spends far too much time describing this, although to give him credit, he at least tries to do this in conversation with Sancia and later with scriving experts explaining what they do. But to me, there was a lot of unnecessary information-dumping, kind of like explaining the molecular process behind tasting and nerve-signal processing when, really, I just want a piece of chocolate.I enjoyed Sachia's personality a great deal at the beginning and thought she developed reasonably well. One of Bennett's strengths is his ability to create female characters that feel like real people. The Divine Cities have a wide variety of female characters, and Foundryside is no exception. A love interest developed during this story that felt somewhat unfounded, however, I credit his attempt at being diverse. Again, it just didn't hit the complicated notes in The Divine Cities.Two side notes: one, occasionally too much vernacular crept in. It was particularly noticeable with swearing; 'goddamn' bothered me as I hadn't noted any gods/churches/religion. I think I recall a 'bullshit,' although we hadn't heard of any bulls, or even cows, as well as some other form of 'shitting me' that seemed far too familiar. These were varied with 'scrumming,' so go figure. The second issue is purely stylistic and not troublesome to me, but I imagine it will bother some readers. A lot of the dialogue is in 'mindspeak,' and so is set off in italics to differentiate it. Which means there are pages of alternating regular style text and italics.All that said, this just didn't resonate with me like his other books. City of Stairs, and it's follow-up, City of Blades, were easily among the best books I've read in years, interesting, emotional, and flat-out good story-telling. I loved the Southwest atmosphere and the magical-realism of American Elsewhere, and The Company Man had me paying attention to it's intriguing mystery despite some heavy-handed moralizing. This seemed a bit rushed, a strange combination of over-worked (the explanobabble for scriving) and under-developed (the efforts to integrate economics, politics, war) compared to Bennett's usual sophisticated and emotionally complex stories. It's not that I wouldn't recommend it as much as it wasn't as awesome as I know he's capable of (do I sound like a teacher or what?). In his end-notes, he remarks that this was the work that most changed from start to finish. I'd say it might be time to go back to his original advisors. It felt a little like The Lies of Locke Lamora, and a little bit like Mistborn, so if those appealed to you, I'd recommend it.Many, many thanks to Kathleen Quinlan at Crown Archetype & Three Rivers Press, Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    5 fantasy stars to Foundryside! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 This was the second of two fantastic fantasy books I was invited to read from Crown Publishing. I am an eclectic reader, and for whatever reason, I do not reach for fantasy as often, but just the same, I tend to savor it when I do.Foundryside is Sancia’s story. A skilled thief, she has been sent on a mission to take a hugely powerful artifact from a guarded warehouse in the impoverished city of Tevanne. This artifact is used in “scriving,” which is codin 5 fantasy stars to Foundryside! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 This was the second of two fantastic fantasy books I was invited to read from Crown Publishing. I am an eclectic reader, and for whatever reason, I do not reach for fantasy as often, but just the same, I tend to savor it when I do.Foundryside is Sancia’s story. A skilled thief, she has been sent on a mission to take a hugely powerful artifact from a guarded warehouse in the impoverished city of Tevanne. This artifact is used in “scriving,” which is coding commands to give previously inanimate objects sentience. This code has already been used to make Tevanne a place where money matters more than people. If Sancia finds this artifact, the whole world could be rewritten based on the ideology of whomever writes the code. Sancia is now hunted by the people who know she has the artifact, and no one has the power to stop them. To save herself, Sancia will have to make friends with her enemies and master how to use the code for her own survival. Robert Jackson Bennett is an artist when it comes to world building. Foundryside is full of all the action and adventure one would expect in this type of story. A well-rounded effort, there are intriguing side stories, characters to adore and despise, and a steadfast and resilient female heroine. Overall, Foundryside is exciting, entertaining, and completely transporting to this other world in a way I found accessible and all-consuming even as an occasional fantasy reader. Thank you to Kathleen Quinlan at Crown for the ARC. All opinions expressed are my own.My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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  • J.L. Sutton
    January 1, 1970
    So much more than I expected! Fantastic! It didn’t take long to recognize that Robert Jackson Bennett’s Foundryside (Founders #1) was something special. Before this book was offered to me for review, Bennett was not a writer I was familiar with. Now, I’m positive that I’ll be reading more of his work. His female heroine, Sancia, reminded me of the resourceful Vin from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Series. There was also something about Bennett’s world-building which reminded me of Sanderson. Howe So much more than I expected! Fantastic! It didn’t take long to recognize that Robert Jackson Bennett’s Foundryside (Founders #1) was something special. Before this book was offered to me for review, Bennett was not a writer I was familiar with. Now, I’m positive that I’ll be reading more of his work. His female heroine, Sancia, reminded me of the resourceful Vin from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Series. There was also something about Bennett’s world-building which reminded me of Sanderson. However, Bennett’s characters and his world (and the magic system in his world) are all his own. When it is revealed that the ‘scrived’ artifact Sancia carries is more than it seems, the book became even more interesting. The Founders is shaping up to be an exciting series I’m looking forward to reading. Very impressed! I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by Crown in exchange for an honest review. “Foundryside. The closest thing Sancia had to a home.” This is a really hard book for me to rate. The concepts in this book are so unique and creative; I loved them so very much! But some of the banter and conversations felt so dry, boring, and sometimes even offensive. Like, two of the main characters have completely captured my whole heart! The others? Meh. I do think this is worth it though, especially if you have enjoyed Robert Jackso ARC provided by Crown in exchange for an honest review. “Foundryside. The closest thing Sancia had to a home.” This is a really hard book for me to rate. The concepts in this book are so unique and creative; I loved them so very much! But some of the banter and conversations felt so dry, boring, and sometimes even offensive. Like, two of the main characters have completely captured my whole heart! The others? Meh. I do think this is worth it though, especially if you have enjoyed Robert Jackson Bennett’s other works! I just expected more, especially after the 6/5 star beginning of this book! In this world, four houses rule Tevanne. While those royals live like kings, the rest of the population lives in Foundryside, where crime is in high quantity and food and clean water are in low supply. And people are willing to do anything to survive. “Four walled-off little city-states, all crammed into Tevanne, all wildly different regions with their own schools, their own living quarters, their own marketplaces, their own cultures. These merchant house enclaves—the campos—took up about 80 percent of Tevanne.” And Sancia Grado is one of the best thieves in Foundryside. Not only is she trained, but she also is harboring a secret that enhances everything that she is able to do, while also giving her abilities that no one else has. And this book starts out with her doing a mission for a payout that will completely change her life. But once she gets the item that she is heisting, her life changes more than she would have ever guessed. “But if you didn’t work for a house, or weren’t affiliated with them—in other words, if you were poor, lame, uneducated, or just the wrong sort of person—then you lived in the remaining 20 percent of Tevanne: a wandering, crooked ribbon of streets and city squares and in-between places—the Commons.” The magic in this book is so damn well done. There are people who are able to perform scriving, which is a magic founded in words and language, where you can convince items to do certain tasks. Think a lock that refuses to unlock for anyone without a certain type of blood. Or think of an alarm system that only goes off when certain things happen. Or even think of a belt that tricks gravity itself so the wearing would be able to scale buildings. And these artifacts are very sought after. And maybe, our little thief has just found one that will completely change the world. And Sancia’s path inevitably crosses many different people, and they all start to piece together that a much bigger thing is happening than any of them realized. This book has many points of view, but, in my opinion, Sancia’s is easily the best. She is truly the star of this book, and her backstory still has me feeling every emotion under the sun. Also, Clef and Sancia are everything and I’d probably die for either of them. But like I touched upon before, this book makes some fatphobic comments. It’s so thoughtlessly done, too, that it makes me sad, because a beta reader should have noticed and corrected. The first “villain” you encounter in this story of course had to be fat, and it had to be touched upon a couple times. Then, when one of the main characters is looking at a baby picture, a freakin’ baby picture, its talked about again in a bad light. Basically, everyone and thing who is bad has to be fat. I felt like I was reading a Roald Dahl book! Like, I think at the 33% mark I had highlighted five fatphobic things, and it really made me want to DNF this book, I’ll be honest. And I hated every Gregor point of view after. But let me pull some quotes, because I guarantee someone will try to call me out on this: “He could tell which one of them was Antonin right away, because the man’s clothes were clean, his skin unblemished, his thin hair combed neatly back, and he was hugely, hugely fat—a rarity in the Commons.” “Gregor took stock of the situation. The taverna was now mostly empty except for the moaning guards—and the large, fat man trying to hide behind a chair.” “Tevanne, a huge dome that reminded her of a fat, swollen tick, sitting in the center of the Candiano campo.” “Gregor stared at the painting—especially at the woman in the chair, and the fat infant. His gaze lingered on the baby. That is how she still thinks of me, he thought. Despite all my deeds and scars and accomplishments, I am still a fat, gurgling infant to her, bouncing in her lap.” “She was not like Torino Morsini, head of Morsini House, who was hugely fat and often hugely drunk, and usually spent his time trying to stuff his aged candle into every nubile girl on his campo.” Like, it’s 2018. How the hell did proofreaders think those sentences were okay? Trigger and content warnings for fatphobic comments, abandonment, torture, abuse, murder, death, sexual assault (unwanted touching), child trafficking, use of the slur word for Romani people, loss of a loved one, slavery, medical experimentation, and a lot of depictions of blood. Overall, there was a lot about this that I enjoyed and a lot that I didn’t enjoy. I feel really torn on this one. I feel like it’s so hard to find unique concepts in adult fantasy anymore, and this book reads like a breath of fresh air. I truly did adore this smart magic system. But I could just never totally fall in love with this story! Yet, I am still curious enough to continue on! And I hope if you pick this one up, you’ll be able to get more enjoyment from it than I did. Also, everyone else I know has five starred this, so take my review with a grain of salt! Happy reading, friends! Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | TwitchThe quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.Buddy read with Jules at JA Ironside & Michael at Bitten by a radioactive book! ❤
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  • Carol (Bookaria)
    January 1, 1970
    This is an action-packed, entertaining, and adventurous story.We follow Sancia Grado, a young thief trying to survive in a poverty-ridden city as she tries to steal a powerful device. In this world, objects have been modified with a mystical process called scriving. When an object is scrived it forces it to behave in a way different that it was designed to.The author did a great job with the world building. He took the scriving concept and created a very imaginative story with compelling charact This is an action-packed, entertaining, and adventurous story.We follow Sancia Grado, a young thief trying to survive in a poverty-ridden city as she tries to steal a powerful device. In this world, objects have been modified with a mystical process called scriving. When an object is scrived it forces it to behave in a way different that it was designed to.The author did a great job with the world building. He took the scriving concept and created a very imaginative story with compelling characters. My favorite person in this book was Clef, and I loved his interactions with Sancia. I will not explain who Clef is because I want you to discover it by yourself by reading this book (and also because I don’t want to reveal too much, it’s all about the journey).This is the first book I’ve read from this author but it won’t be the last. Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this book and recommend it to readers of fantasy, YA, and contemporary fiction.Received ARC from the publisher via NetgalleyReview posted on blog
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  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    Robert Jackson Bennett's deserves all of the 5 dazzling stars for this utterly gripping, epic fantasy adventure thriller, that is the first of this hotly anticipated series. Bennett engages in wonderful world building of the city of Tevanne with its 4 powerful family merchant houses and the more poverty stricken outsiders residing in the slums of The Commons. Tevanne runs on industrialised magic through the use of scriving, a specialist art that involves coding to change reality for things to en Robert Jackson Bennett's deserves all of the 5 dazzling stars for this utterly gripping, epic fantasy adventure thriller, that is the first of this hotly anticipated series. Bennett engages in wonderful world building of the city of Tevanne with its 4 powerful family merchant houses and the more poverty stricken outsiders residing in the slums of The Commons. Tevanne runs on industrialised magic through the use of scriving, a specialist art that involves coding to change reality for things to ensure they do as they are bid, such as defying the laws of gravity and more. The most gifted scriveners endow wealth and power to their particular merchant house, with some dreaming of the ability to scriven like the legendary and mythical hierophants of the past, reputed to be nothing less than divine. It is a world in which there is little in the way of law enforcement despite the best efforts of Captain Gregor Dandolo, a soldier and war hero. Sancia Grado, with a harrowing past, is an accomplished thief, she has the job of a lifetime which she has high hopes will secure her future and give her the necessary surgery she seeks. Whilst she gets her hands on what she seeks, she gets more than she bargained for, as she becomes a target to be killed by a ruthless and powerful individual connected with one of the Merchant Houses. In the meantime, she is being sought by Gregor, who wants her to face justice for setting the waterfront on fire and for stealing a box. With the help of the stolen artefact, and a group of unlikely allies, Sancia does her best to survive the dark dangerous waters she finds herself. Things get ever more urgent as it turns out the artefact and its secrets are wanted for the horrifying purpose of rewriting and changing the entire world, endangering whole swathes of the population. Incorporating all the elements of a Robin Hood heist or two, numerous obstacles and spectacular twists, it all ends in a thrilling finale with a cliffhanger.Bennett has done a stellar job in establishing this action packed series with its fabulous world building that is done with impressive skill. I could easily imagine Tevanne with all its below the radar political intrigue and the magical power of scrivening. Where Bennett really shines is in his complex and intricate plotting and his ability to create a diverse range of characters that captured my interest, from slum girl Sancia, to the talented Berenice. Their interactions and relationships made for compelling reading. This is simply fantastic storytelling that has me waiting with much anticipation for the sequel. Highly Recommended! Many thanks to Quercus for an ARC.
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  • Terence
    January 1, 1970
    Sancia is a specially skilled thief who accepted a job that can pay beyond her wildest dreams. The target is a simple box in a safe at the Tevanne docks. When curiosity gets the best of Sancia she learns she's stolen a device that could forever change the magic like scriving that has built Tevanne. She decides to flee rather than hand it over. Before she even has a chance to do so her contact is murdered and she escapes a trap that would undoubtedly lead to her demise. Sancia has to keep running Sancia is a specially skilled thief who accepted a job that can pay beyond her wildest dreams. The target is a simple box in a safe at the Tevanne docks. When curiosity gets the best of Sancia she learns she's stolen a device that could forever change the magic like scriving that has built Tevanne. She decides to flee rather than hand it over. Before she even has a chance to do so her contact is murdered and she escapes a trap that would undoubtedly lead to her demise. Sancia has to keep running, but she unfortunately doesn't have the resources to get far. She's forced to make previously unthinkable allies and to take risks that could lead to the destruction of Tevanne itself.Foundryside is an intriguing book jam packed with world building. It's clear the author intends for Foundryside to be the first in a series as it establishes the history of the world along with the detailed day to day science of the world's unique attribute, scriving.I've read and watched many stories that go into detail about scientific details of a world, but I don't know that I've ever seen one explained as thoroughly as scriving. Scriving at it's core is the process of making an item believe something different about itself through a complicated process filled with sigils and fueled by lexicons. For example weapons in the world similar to crossbow bolts believe when fired by the bow that they haven't been fired by the bow, but instead have been falling for hundreds or thousands of feet. This increases the attack velocity and power of the bolts which in turn makes a useful weapon into something inhumanly devastating.The most interesting part of the story was Sancia herself. Sancia is a scrived human. Scrived humans shouldn't exist, but Sancia does. Her powers are a gift for stealing and fleeing, but a nightmare for everyday life. Sancia learns about anything she touches. If she touches a table for example she learns it's physical attributes such as where it's weakest or if any grooves have been carved into it. This is extremely helpful for her when she's on a job as such an ability is very useful on a wall or tunnel. The problem with her ability is she can't turn it off. Sancia keeps her skin covered most of the time and has to avoid human contact so she isn't overloaded by her ability. Sancia as a person is simply a survivor who is doing her best in a hard world.Foundryside is largely a mystery to unravel and it is filled with stunning surprises.4 out of 5 starsI received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  •  ⚔ Sh3lly - Grumpy Name-Changing Wanderer ⚔
    January 1, 1970
    Review also found at:https://dustoffyourmachalo.wordpress....“Foundryside is topnotch story-telling. A fantasy heavyweight ripe with heart, heroism, and hilarity.” – ShellyMy attempt at one of those catchy quotes you find on jacket covers. See, this is why I’m not a writer. LOL. Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett, author of City of Stairs, is due to be released on August 21, 2018, which happens to be the day after my 45th birthday. It’s a good thing I was able to read the ARC (blessedly given Review also found at:https://dustoffyourmachalo.wordpress....“Foundryside is topnotch story-telling. A fantasy heavyweight ripe with heart, heroism, and hilarity.” – ShellyMy attempt at one of those catchy quotes you find on jacket covers. See, this is why I’m not a writer. LOL. Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett, author of City of Stairs, is due to be released on August 21, 2018, which happens to be the day after my 45th birthday. It’s a good thing I was able to read the ARC (blessedly given to me by the publisher through Netgalley) because I will be having a mid-life crisis when this book is officially released and most likely too busy drowning in tears, wine, pizza, and binge-watching John Hughes movies or whatever we Generation X-ers watched in real time back before most of the people reading this were born. Or something.So, I actually didn’t really like City of Stairs, which means I must have read it wrong or was busy having a pre-midlife crisis (not to be confused with the actual midlife crisis coming up here in less than two months) and temporarily out of my mind because there is no way I could have liked this so much and not liked that. A re-read is definitely on my to-do list – AFTER that mid-life crisis in August. (Getting old sucks in case no one ever told you. Yes, you do feel more self-assured and able to let your inner grouch out more freely. But, no one wants to get hairs in unwanted places and lose hair in wanted places. Let’s not get started on the fresh aches and pains where once was only strength and the gastro-intestinal issues.)Now that I’ve grossed you out sufficiently, let’s get down to business. I obviously can’t say too much because the book is not released yet. What I can say is that the world-building will blow your mind. Scriving is the ancient act of embedding objects with alchemic sigils that change the way they interact with reality. There are Houses in this world, which make up the ruling elite. They have scrivers and Founders and it’s like a competition for them to come up with new and better ways to scrive objects. This includes locks, gates, carriages, buildings, armor, weapons. Just about anything can be scrived. Including humans. But that is the big taboo and highly illegal.Sancia is a poor thief, just trying to keep food in her belly and survive. She is the main character. Sancia is awesome. We should all strive to be more like Sancia. Except the stealing part. Well, unless you have to steal stuff to save the world. Then, it’s okay because world-saving and stuff.Gregor is a war veteran and sort of like a police man. His big thing is justice and making the world a better place. He could learn to see things less in black and white, but he is doing the best he can. Gregor is a good guy.Then we have Berenice and Orso. Berenice is a brilliant scriver and a student of Orso’s. He is the crotchety old dude who spits out whatever is in his head, which I have noticed is something that old people tend to do more. Maybe this is a part of growing up. I will be thinking more on this during my mid-life crisis in August. Sometimes, we should be more like Orso.There are other characters. A couple of rogue scrivers who get added to our rag-tag team and some crazy Founders who want to become immortal and take over the world! The book is full of diverse people and strong females are well-represented. And we can’t forget Clef, who is just about the BEST supporting inanimate object character ever. Only he’s not inanimate and I’m not saying anything else. Except Clef is awesome. We should be more like Clef, except for the part where he is SPOILER and the other part where we would have to SPOILER and no one would want that. *sadface*Okay, so, to wrap this up, Foundryside is an excellent first book in a new trilogy/series/whatever. If you are a fantasy fan, there is no doubt you will sing the praises of this book. If you aren’t a fantasy fan, well then, you should be because fantasy is THE BEST and you are missing out on ALL THE WORLDS. Except ours, which is boring and mundane so I don’t like to read much of those kinds of books.Bottom line: Foundryside checked all the boxes for me and you should read it!Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy to read and review!
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  • Sebastien Castell
    January 1, 1970
    Foundryside is a novel that is perpetually combining elements you'd have thought wouldn't be compatible, and yet Robert Jackson Bennet pulls the feat off every time. I was lucky enough to be given an advance reader copy of the book and found it immensely well conceived and executed.When you begin the novel, you're immediately drawn into a piece of classic fantasy storytelling: a daring (if troubled) young thief in the middle of a dangerous heist, using a mix of magic and cleverness to survive. T Foundryside is a novel that is perpetually combining elements you'd have thought wouldn't be compatible, and yet Robert Jackson Bennet pulls the feat off every time. I was lucky enough to be given an advance reader copy of the book and found it immensely well conceived and executed.When you begin the novel, you're immediately drawn into a piece of classic fantasy storytelling: a daring (if troubled) young thief in the middle of a dangerous heist, using a mix of magic and cleverness to survive. This would seem to set the stage for a wonderfully told – yet tried and true – adventure tale. Yet what follows is so much deeper and complex than appeared at first. The characters are more vibrant and nuanced, the setting is built on layer upon layer of intrigue and mystery, and the magic system is not only wonderfully innovative, but absolutely crucial to everything that takes place in the novel.In some ways the book reminded me of Guy Gavriel Kay novels with their rich and textured world-building, yet Foundryside is accessible to all kinds of readers – even ones who normally shy away from fantasy. Precisely because its internal myths and magic are new, it means readers can delve into them without having to come armed with in-depth knowledge of the usual fantasy tropes.From the opening heist scene to the beautifully-rich climax, Foundryside shows Robert Bennet Jackson as one of those authors with that rare ability to surprise you page after page.
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  • Montzalee Wittmann
    January 1, 1970
    Foundryside (Founders #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett is a book I requested and the review is voluntary. Wow, this is one heck of a book! The character building and world building is just so astounding! The story itself drags me in and I didn't even feel it until I was hopeless trapped and I couldn't stop reading for fear of what may happen when I wasn't there! lol The political intrigue, the society's ladders, how magic fit or didn't fit in, all was masterfully painted. Such an exciting story, lo Foundryside (Founders #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett is a book I requested and the review is voluntary. Wow, this is one heck of a book! The character building and world building is just so astounding! The story itself drags me in and I didn't even feel it until I was hopeless trapped and I couldn't stop reading for fear of what may happen when I wasn't there! lol The political intrigue, the society's ladders, how magic fit or didn't fit in, all was masterfully painted. Such an exciting story, lots of mini stories, plots, and puzzles! I can't wait for the next book!
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  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    January 1, 1970
    I just received an ARC of this fantasy from the publisher - I have to say I'm especially excited to check this one out. I've heard really good things about it.
  • Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes I come across a piece of fiction that tickles every single one of my funnybones. As in thoroughly delighting me. Charming me. Making me fall in love.This is one of those.I mean, don't get me wrong, I've LOVED Bennett's City of Stairs books and gushed on and on about those, but this one is a near picture-perfect mix of extremely detailed rules-based magic based on Scriving, or rune-like ancient language, to *persuade* reality to behave differently. Basically, it's a hacking manual for r Sometimes I come across a piece of fiction that tickles every single one of my funnybones. As in thoroughly delighting me. Charming me. Making me fall in love.This is one of those.I mean, don't get me wrong, I've LOVED Bennett's City of Stairs books and gushed on and on about those, but this one is a near picture-perfect mix of extremely detailed rules-based magic based on Scriving, or rune-like ancient language, to *persuade* reality to behave differently. Basically, it's a hacking manual for reality. Nothing could be better designed to make me go squee.Then give me a near-non-stop heist novel with a great thief, an AI-like skeleton key, a thief-catcher full of wonderful mysteries, himself, and a dirty town called Foundryside with corrupt Houses of writers, an old war of deadly physics-based-reality-hacking destruction ramping up into a new episode, and wonderful reveal after reveal after reveal for a meaty and delicious plot, and we've got ourselves an honest-to-Hierophant winner.Truly. I never once got bored. Never once wanted to put the novel down. I was engaged from the first word to the very last and never wanted it to end.This was a great story on its own, but the end really makes it shine. I could read this as a series FOREVER. And EVER. :) :) In fact, knowing Bennett's power of storytelling, I am pretty certain this is going to be one of my top-favorites for fantasy. Period. Let me back up a little. Think of Sanderson's Mistborn for its magic system. Think about the best fantasy heist novels that jump from extremely deep worldbuilding and atmosphere and character-building into an ensemble cast that must band together against an utterly unstoppable foe behind impenetrable walls. Now get REALLY clever with the magic system. And go NUTS with history, implications, magic items that are more than what they seem, and a dark past that is waking up to take over the world.Sound good?Me ---> SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENuff said. :)
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  • Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
    January 1, 1970
    A few hours late, but hey, here we are. Very special thanks to Kathleen Quinlan and Crown Publishing for sending this reader an ARC!This was utterly fascinating. I can't wait to see where the series goes. Character development and world-building are two areas where Robert Jackson Bennett excels. I loved Sancia, Clef, and the rest of the crew (even if it took me awhile to warm up to Orso). After reading this, I want prequels. Gimme origin stories for Orso and Berenice and Gregor. Even Sancia's Sc A few hours late, but hey, here we are. Very special thanks to Kathleen Quinlan and Crown Publishing for sending this reader an ARC!This was utterly fascinating. I can't wait to see where the series goes. Character development and world-building are two areas where Robert Jackson Bennett excels. I loved Sancia, Clef, and the rest of the crew (even if it took me awhile to warm up to Orso). After reading this, I want prequels. Gimme origin stories for Orso and Berenice and Gregor. Even Sancia's Scrapper friends, Giovanni and Claudia, seemed like they had stories of their own to tell. And I can always do with more stories.
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  • Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
    January 1, 1970
    I AM DOING THE THING. LORD HAVE MERCY I'M FINALLY DOING THE THING. *screams forever*
  • Maria Dimitrova
    January 1, 1970
    I received this ARC from Crown Publishing in exchange of an honest review. This in no way affects my rating or influences my opinion.I'm usually not a big fan of epic fantasy. I enjoy it but it takes me some time to grow attached to both the world and the characters. And by a while I mean a couple of books. So it's a rare treat when a fantasy series catches me from the very first instalment. Foundryside starts like an adventure and for maybe the first half I was convinced it'll be just that - a I received this ARC from Crown Publishing in exchange of an honest review. This in no way affects my rating or influences my opinion.I'm usually not a big fan of epic fantasy. I enjoy it but it takes me some time to grow attached to both the world and the characters. And by a while I mean a couple of books. So it's a rare treat when a fantasy series catches me from the very first instalment. Foundryside starts like an adventure and for maybe the first half I was convinced it'll be just that - a straightforward fantasy adventure, full with villians, magic and somewhat tarnished heroes. And then things changed. It wasn't an abrupt change, I never really noticed it but as I was reading i caught myself thinking about how the world of Foundryside mirrors our own. Some of the problems we face in the real world are masterfully weaved in this new magical world and if you're not careful, you might miss it completely. There's a strange form of magic in this world, called scriving, and it's very similar to real world science. And let's face it for most people science is basically magic because they don't understand it and yet it powers everything around us. Scriving is the same in not only being something that you can learn if you apply yourself hard enough and in powering everything the people of Tevanne value and use but also in presenting them with dangers no one even dreamed off. People are enslaved by and because of scrivings, wars are fought because scrivings have given some people the ability to conquer and the need for new resources, but the most disturbing thing is that few realize what that power has done. And that made me think about how enslaved I am to technology, how dependent, how brainwashed. And it scares me. It scares me because I know that I can't break away, that just because I'm technically free, I'm in a cage of science. A cage that cannot be broken and shouldn't be broken because the whole world would collapse if it is. Science and technology is not in itself a bad thing, the way it's used by those in power, however, is a whole other matter. This is one book I'm going to recommend to all my friends because many of our own cutting edge technologies (and I'm not talking only mechanical tech here but also biotech) have their mirrors in the Foundryside universe. And I hope that the distance fiction provides will let them better understand our own reality and the lurking dangers. But even if Foundryside doesn't speak to you the way it spoke to me it's worth reading. Those who love the genre will love it. It has all the right components to appeal to the thrill seeking reader with its battles and heroics as well as to those who demand a detailed (but not too detailed or I would have run away screaming) worldbuilding. The characters aren't perfect and they have a lot of growing up to do but they feel real, like people you can meet on the streets on any given day. The plot has mostly predictable though there were a couple of things I didn't see coming. Or rather didn't want to see coming so I buried my head in the sand until the last possible moment :D. And now that I'm finished I have a thousand theories and questions. The most important one being "How long will I have to wait for the next book?"Special thanks to Kathleen Quinlan for approaching me with an offer to read this amazing book!
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  • Sharade
    January 1, 1970
    RTC.Quick feedback: It's as if Brandon Sanderson and Max Gladstone had a book-child that was then raised by Scott Lynch. And I loved it.
  • Nick T. Borrelli
    January 1, 1970
    Click here for my full review:https://outofthisworldrev.blogspot.co...
  • Maryam
    January 1, 1970
    I loved Robert Jackson Bennett Divine City series so when given the opportunity to read this advanced copy of Foundryside from the publisher, I accepted it without any hesitation. After reading it I’m sure when edited and published in August Foundryside will get the attention it deserves.Like Divine City this is a new world of magic, something remaining from a long lost magic era. The other similarity is the female protagonist which this time is a thief. This time the main city is called Tevanne I loved Robert Jackson Bennett Divine City series so when given the opportunity to read this advanced copy of Foundryside from the publisher, I accepted it without any hesitation. After reading it I’m sure when edited and published in August Foundryside will get the attention it deserves.Like Divine City this is a new world of magic, something remaining from a long lost magic era. The other similarity is the female protagonist which this time is a thief. This time the main city is called Tevanne and it has two side, Commons and Merchant houses. Merchant houses are wealthy and corrupt and commons are poor and have a slave like life.All main characters in the book are very likable and very well developed. If I want to say who my favorite was, it’s probably Clef the key, but still I enjoyed every character in its own role, even Orso. The world Bennett has created is kind of mixing science and magic. Today’s human have access to part of a magic language of now a dead civilization and can utilize objects and change reality by scriving symbols of that language into objects. There are many lost symbols and critical missed parts that prevent them to fully use this magic science, until a small box with a Key in it is stolen.This is a story of action, of mystery, of fighting for power and craving justice and highly recommended for fantasy lovers.
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  • Jonathan Terrington
    January 1, 1970
    You can read a more polished and updated (with pictures) version of this very same review over at my website: The Write Stuff.Reading is a kind of contextual magic. At times, the location in which you read a book can influence the way you absorb the wonder of that novel. For me, I was reading in the back of a van that were it almost anywhere but Manila would have been illegal. We were stuck in traffic for three hours with nothing else to do. So with every bump and screech of brakes as I rode th You can read a more polished and updated (with pictures) version of this very same review over at my website: The Write Stuff.Reading is a kind of contextual magic. At times, the location in which you read a book can influence the way you absorb the wonder of that novel. For me, I was reading in the back of a van that were it almost anywhere but Manila would have been illegal. We were stuck in traffic for three hours with nothing else to do. So with every bump and screech of brakes as I rode through the Philippines' capital, I read a little more of Foundyside. And I found myself incredibly captivated by the power of this novel, and the intriguing parallels between the megacity around me at the time. It would be fair to admit that Foundryside grabbed me in a way few novels have since I read Mistborn for the first time.I was given the opportunity to read this advanced copy of Foundryside from the publisher. Having enjoyed Robert Jackson Bennett's obscure novel The Troupe I leapt at the chance. There was no obligations upon receiving this pre-proof edition to provide a review (favourable or otherwise). And I say that to encourage you I rate this five stars from my own enthusiastic opinion, and not because someone impossibly bought my opinion. I have no doubts that Foundryside once fully edited and released in August will be one of the best fantasy books released in 2018.However, the important detail for me to include in this review is: why? Why is this novel so excellent? Why is this going to be one of 2018' best fantasy novels? There are two main reasons. The first of which is the unique set of characters presented in this novel. Each character has a very clear point of view with distinctive motivations. Whether these are motivations of survival, honour and justice, or just plain academic curiosity. Foundryside uses these characters to discuss deep themes of truth, freedom, justice and industrialised development. The key characters, Sancia and Gregor, are likeable and as mentioned previously well developed. While I felt like this world was akin to the writing of Mistborn the characterisation is in many regards far superior in Foundryside. In many regards this is also a novel that feels akin to The Lies of Locke Lamora in tone, theme and content. Yet this is a novel which also balances the serious side of its grim world with a keen sense of wit and humour. An overall entertaining novel.The second reason is the world-building. It has become a compulsory part of sci-fi and fantasy fiction that an author must develop an impressive world. In Foundryside, Robert Jackson Bennett has created a world in which science and technology exist through magic. This is a world which hints at a great past full of magicians and powerful empires, but is set the city of Tevanne. A city which picked up the pieces of this past and profited through the sale of magic. Much in the same way that Italy picked up the pieces of the Roman Empire and their innovations and ran their merchant houses in Venice. In fact, Bennett is on record as stating that Venetian Merchant Houses were a major inspiration for this novel.The magic of Foundryside is found through special magical scripts which tell objects how to defy reality. This ability, called 'scriving' is a constructed magic system with clear guidelines. Part of the joy in reading Foundryside, therefore is discovering how these rules work and how the politics of the four Merchant Houses work. These Merchant Houses are wealthy due to selling and controlling scrived products, and the roguish underworld operate by manufacturing knock-offs of their own. All of which creates this alien but familiar world for a powerful narrative to operate within.In short, Robert Jackson Bennett is clearly a thinking fantasy author. An odd oxymoron to write, given that all authors are thoughtful. But what I mean by this is that in Foundryside it is clear that the author has thought about the entire construction of this imagined world. Whether this construction includes themes or more practical ways in which the world works from economics to magic. I strongly encourage anyone with a love of fantasy to set out to read this book as soon as it releases in August. It is smooth-flowing, detailed and light reading despite the page count, and every detail of the novel is packed full of information and carefully crafted thought.
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  • Judy Lesley
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for a digital galley of this novel.Foundryside had a little bit of a slow start for me but once it got going it had my attention fully engaged. The slow beginning had to do with the main character being immediately involved in a robbery using the magic system of this world. Once some of that magic was explained it was evident this would be a world unlike most I've encountered in the fantasy genre. I saw Foundryside as a contrast between those who had a Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for a digital galley of this novel.Foundryside had a little bit of a slow start for me but once it got going it had my attention fully engaged. The slow beginning had to do with the main character being immediately involved in a robbery using the magic system of this world. Once some of that magic was explained it was evident this would be a world unlike most I've encountered in the fantasy genre. I saw Foundryside as a contrast between those who had and those who wanted. The city of Tevanne is comprised of four walled-off city states, each one belonging to one of the four founding families. Outside the walls of the compounds are the slums where everyone else has to try to survive. Inside the compounds merchant families employ people to research, invent, manufacture and scrive items with the sigils which will establish how the item is to function. The story really came alive for me when the author began to reveal what instructions were being held by an object and what could be done to make that item stop acting as initially instructed.Sanchia is twenty years old but she has no family or friends and is surviving because of a talent that helps her when she is stealing. The merchant houses aggressively compete with each other for control of the magic; those outside the walls get the magic illegally by their own inventions or by stealing from the rich merchants. I like that this author didn't make everyone who is rich a horrible person and everyone who is poor isn't a saint. This made the story much richer. This magic system is very complex and it takes quite a bit of explanation to provide the background for what has happened in the past and where this civilization is now. Thankfully those explanations were inserted throughout the novel and not just in big information dumps. There is a building romance between Sanchia and another woman which should help Sanchia in future novels with the feelings she has about her life before she arrived in Tevanne. With a magic system this strong this series should be in for a good long run. The author has all the writing skills he needs to keep the characters and magic system fresh and enjoyable.
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  • Beth Cato
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley.I was just about two chapters into this book when I thought, "Hmm, this is going to be one of my favorite books for the year, isn't it?" Foundryside fully lived up to the promise of its early pages. This is a darn good book, and one I have already added to my awards nomination list for next year.The world-building stands out foremost. There are a lot of political machinations going on between different city founders, but the magic was what gr I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley.I was just about two chapters into this book when I thought, "Hmm, this is going to be one of my favorite books for the year, isn't it?" Foundryside fully lived up to the promise of its early pages. This is a darn good book, and one I have already added to my awards nomination list for next year.The world-building stands out foremost. There are a lot of political machinations going on between different city founders, but the magic was what gripped me right away. Sancia is a young thief with unusual magical skills; she can meddle with objects and make them do things. But this skill isn't natural--she's essentially a hacked human being, raised in slavery then subject to a cruel experiment to attempt to "scrive" human beings, i.e. grant them magical abilities like the sort once used by god-like entities called hierophants. Sancia takes on a difficult job to steal a box from a safe, and that safe holds a talking key that just might be connected to the hierophants of old. (Clef, the talking key, is one of the stand-outs of the book and a major reason to continue reading this series.) Of course, a lot of really nasty people want that key, deaths ensue, and Sancia creates a band of reluctant, quirky allies to try to survive. The action is near-constant but this is no fluff action book--there is genuine heart and soul here, and these are characters I want to stick with for the long haul.
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  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    Foundryside is a stupendous work of fantasy that is written so well that the pages seem to melt away. What a great read! Absolutely enjoyable. Can’t wait for the next one in the series.Although us readers are only given a glimpse of a small corner of this world, it is an incredible glimpse into a world where scrivings dictate how things work. Scrivings are like magic words or the fantasy equivalent of computer code which allow objects to think and desire after a fashion. For instance, a scrived Foundryside is a stupendous work of fantasy that is written so well that the pages seem to melt away. What a great read! Absolutely enjoyable. Can’t wait for the next one in the series.Although us readers are only given a glimpse of a small corner of this world, it is an incredible glimpse into a world where scrivings dictate how things work. Scrivings are like magic words or the fantasy equivalent of computer code which allow objects to think and desire after a fashion. For instance, a scrived four will desire to stay locked until the right key opens it or a joint in a retaining wall will withstand anything because it wants to maintain the wall. Engineers from great merchant houses create these seemingly magic objects which are everywhere. And, they are but a little taste of the powers the ancients had- scrived language or codes that have been lost for all the ages.But what makes this fantasy sing is the main character - Sancia, a common thief, part of the lower class, who agreed to break into a warehouse and steal a box. But she’s no ordinary thief. She can do things that no ordinary thief can do let alone a tiny little one like her.The story is told well. It is perfectly paced, building up to the ultimate confrontation. Despite all the magical mystical things in it, the story maintains its own level of believability within its world. Can’t recommend this enough.
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  • Donna Davis
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 rounded up. This title is the first in a new series. Those that love fantasy, and especially those that already enjoy this writer’s work will want to check it out. My thanks go to Crown and Net Galley for the DRC, which I received free and early in exchange for this honest review. Bennett comes to this project with a list of awards as long as your arm, so I was excited to read him. I probably would have been more impressed by this book if there hadn’t been so much build up. Still, it has a l 3.5 rounded up. This title is the first in a new series. Those that love fantasy, and especially those that already enjoy this writer’s work will want to check it out. My thanks go to Crown and Net Galley for the DRC, which I received free and early in exchange for this honest review. Bennett comes to this project with a list of awards as long as your arm, so I was excited to read him. I probably would have been more impressed by this book if there hadn’t been so much build up. Still, it has a lot going for it. It will be released August 21, 2018.The fictional city of Tevanne in which this story takes place is even more polarized than the developed world of today; there is a walled city in which the haves get everything and live in tremendous luxury, and then we have The Commons, where not only is there no law enforcement or legally held private property; in fact there are no laws at all. This is where the dispossessed try to stay alive. Our protagonist is Sancia, a thief that has been commissioned to steal a valuable artifact. Buildings speak to Sancia through her hands, so when she doesn’t want to be distracted or drained, she must wear gloves. The technology of the time is scriving, a magical method similar to artificial intelligence on steroids, and this dominates the plot. Sancia discovers Clef, a key that is scrived, and Clef becomes her sidekick. The story starts out with a lot of noise, but not much of substance takes place; we have scriving, and we have a lot of chasing, running, hiding, climbing, jumping, running, fighting, running some more and…well, you get the idea. I generally prefer a more complex plot along the lines of Stephen Donaldson or Tolkien, but I was glad I stayed with it when I saw where it ended up. I am pumped to have a series that has a strong female protagonist, and here we also have a female villain. I would be even more pumped if rape were never even mentioned. I read an interview years ago with movie director Jodie Foster, who said that working with male writers, directors and producers was frustrating, because so few of them were able to imagine motivation for a female character without landing there. Why would this character do [whatever]? Why, she must have been raped. It was rape. She’s afraid of rape. Still, after all of the scriving, running, chasing, hiding, fighting and fleeing, we come to an ethical quandary that makes it worth the wait. And of course, the series is still in its infancy, so it’s fun to get in on the ground floor. Bennett’s fans will be delighted, and those that love fantasy should consider adding this book to their queue.
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  • Lo Bookfrantic
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 StarsWorking on review...
  • Alaina Meserole
    January 1, 1970
    Foundryside was so freaking good! I am so happy that the publisher reached out to me and wanted to know if I wanted to dive into this book and The Grey Bastards. I loved both and I can't wait to dive into more books by these two authors.The characters in this book were completely lovable. Sancia and Clef were probably my favorites out of them all. Sancia is a young thief with unique magical skills. I loved her character from the very beginning because she didn't sulk, whine, or annoy me at all. Foundryside was so freaking good! I am so happy that the publisher reached out to me and wanted to know if I wanted to dive into this book and The Grey Bastards. I loved both and I can't wait to dive into more books by these two authors.The characters in this book were completely lovable. Sancia and Clef were probably my favorites out of them all. Sancia is a young thief with unique magical skills. I loved her character from the very beginning because she didn't sulk, whine, or annoy me at all. Even though she grew up in a terrible situation and made a new life for herself. While on a mission, where she needs to steal a box from a safe, she sort of meets Clef who is the talking key in that said safe. Now even though I loved both characters I will admit that Clef was a major reason for me to keep flipping the pages. Besides my favorite characters, the action and mystery were pretty good. The twist and turns made me want to see how this story was going to end. I was hoping for a fantastic finish that would make me want to dive into the second book (whenever that will come out). It did! It so did! I really enjoyed this book so much. There was no fluff and little predictability. Overall, it was a highly entertaining book. If you like death, action, lovable characters, and some mystery.. then this book is for you. The only complaint I have is that I have to wait for the second book to be written/published. I hate waiting.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    A very, very solid 4.5 stars — if anything, it’s only slightly rounded down simply because Robert Jackson Bennett is pretty much my favourite author and so my standards for him are so damn high and I know how good he is. This one is a really fun, addictive fantasy with a young thief named Sancia Grado, who’s contracted to steal an enchanted key from a warehouse — which winds up being far more trouble than she realised, as she lands in hot water over her head and entangled with complicated magic A very, very solid 4.5 stars — if anything, it’s only slightly rounded down simply because Robert Jackson Bennett is pretty much my favourite author and so my standards for him are so damn high and I know how good he is. This one is a really fun, addictive fantasy with a young thief named Sancia Grado, who’s contracted to steal an enchanted key from a warehouse — which winds up being far more trouble than she realised, as she lands in hot water over her head and entangled with complicated magic which risks consuming the noble houses of the city of Trevanne.This book reminded me of so many things: The Lies of Locke Lamora, with the canal city and Italianesque criminal underworld and heists; The Emperor's Soul, with its method of writing magic into existence and convincing objects to be something they’re not; even the podcast The Adventure Zone at times, due to the occasional tongue-in-cheek fun which kept the narrative from being too grim, even if the main characters’ backstories are tragic. I also thought of the video game Transistor, for the sentient embodied object tagging along with the heroine; and I know it’s indebted to the video game Thief.Basically, another reader nailed it with this description: “It’s as if Brandon Sanderson and Max Gladstone had a book-child that was then raised by Scott Lynch. And I loved it.”Which is not to say that the book is derivative at all, just that it taps into the same feel as so many other things that I love. Bennett spins up a very original world featuring mechanical magic that operates a bit like code (and it’s so… adorable??? I loved hearing from every single one of the scrivings), and a rich history of artefacts and the people who created them.Sancia is a really good heroine, all pluck and fierce survival instinct; she’s capable and damaged and has special powers and yet without coming across as too-awesome, which is always a delicate balance to straddle. She’s a believable, sympathetic figure to root for, and has some ever-welcome diversity (though the romance felt a wee bit rushed, and I would have liked her love interest to be a bit more fleshed out).Gregor Dandolo was PREDICTABLY my absolute favourite because I am all about straightlaced lawmen; as the well-intentioned captain of the guard trying to clean up a corrupt city, he also reminded me a tad of Carrot in Discworld. He’s the musclebound tank archetype à la Sigurd in City of Stairs, but very consciously written differently: he’s all prim and upright and cheerily polite, which is a delightful contrast to the seedy setting.I also liked the rest of the cast as they’re gathered, which makes for a motley team dynamic of misfits and underdogs. (And then my Actual Favourite character was a building, so… goddamnit, Bennett, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE.)In mulling over what it’s all about, besides a heisty romp: it’s about slavery, ownership, identity, and how to dismantle a corrupt system. Momentum & consequence, and things being set in motion. War and peace, and choosing not to be a weapon anymore, and deciding on your own fate. I loved the through-line between the lives of Sancia & Gregor, and how they try to repair the damage done to them. Can’t wait for the sequel.The .5 stars are docked because although I was riveted, the book didn’t quite pluck my emotions or break my heart the same way Bennett has done before. I’m committing the cardinal sin of comparing his newest book to his other fantasy work, but it’s not as emotionally evocative as the Divine Cities series (seriously, everyone needs to go read that trilogy), plus the villain(s) chomped the scenery quite a bit and you could see some of the twists coming (though one caught me gobsmacked and flailing). But Robert Jackson Bennett is still one of the most capable authors out there, and I just do not understand how he keeps managing to churn out so many great, great concepts and plots so quickly. He’s one of the only writers whose work I’ll read as soon as possible after publication, because he is just that worth watching.This book is really recommended if you’re a fan of any of the things I mentioned above — or tbh if you just enjoy fun, rollicking fantasy with strong female protagonists and well-thought-out magic systems. (Also it’s so damn cinematic that I was pretty much directing and casting the movie adaptation in my head while reading.)I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review; thanks, Crown Publishing!
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  • Benjamin Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    This, my friends, is the very definition of “smart fantasy”. Fans of Robert Jackson Bennett’s previous works will be pleased. I won’t try to rehash a plot summary because I really wouldn’t know where to begin. I can say that if you are looking for traditional fantasy with wizards, elves, etc. you will need to look elsewhere. Bennett has developed an innovative magic system along with some exquisite world building. The city of Tevanne has hints of a great past of imperial dynasties ruling the lan This, my friends, is the very definition of “smart fantasy”. Fans of Robert Jackson Bennett’s previous works will be pleased. I won’t try to rehash a plot summary because I really wouldn’t know where to begin. I can say that if you are looking for traditional fantasy with wizards, elves, etc. you will need to look elsewhere. Bennett has developed an innovative magic system along with some exquisite world building. The city of Tevanne has hints of a great past of imperial dynasties ruling the land and now profits through the sale of magic. Merchant houses compete against each other and is the primary source of political intrigue in the novel. The magic system is truly unique. Through a process called ‘scriving’ various products, machinery, and devices are imbued with special magical scripts which tell objects how to defy reality. Imagine an elevator in a mine shaft which is scrived to ignore gravity and naturally “fall up”. Part of the fun in reading Foundryside, is discovering how these rules work. While the merchant houses grow wealthy due to selling and controlling scrived products, there is an active underworld which operates by manufacturing knock-offs of their own. All of this creates an impressive world for the characters to play in.I opened this review by saying this was a “smart fantasy”. By that, I mean that it is very complex, both in terms of the environment as well as the characters and the plot. The reader needs to be fully engaged with their brain turned on. Bennett is not content to let the magic system simply be what it is and just ignore how it works. Many large portions of the narrative are devoted to delving into its nuances. A healthy dose of science is injected into the magic and the characters’ understanding of it drives the plot. For me, it was a bit too much. Almost as if the author was more excited about his magic system than the characters. I can’t say that I fully understand all of it after one reading but then again, that’s part of the overall effect.Although this novel is the first of a trilogy, this volume can stand alone (if one doesn’t read the last two pages which opens up a whole other can of worms). If you enjoy strong fantasy in an industrial/merchant setting, then I recommend you give this a try.
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    Hooray! This almost felt like a buddy comedy, which I fully support in fantasy, a genre with an irritating tendency to take itself way too seriously. This reminded me a lot of The Lies of Locke Lamora, which is high praise in my book. Excellent world building and magical system, fantastic characters, and I felt it hit the right (if sometimes difficult to read) note on slavery. Sancia’s PTSD was well rendered, and something that should come up more often in fantasy (given the plot points the genr Hooray! This almost felt like a buddy comedy, which I fully support in fantasy, a genre with an irritating tendency to take itself way too seriously. This reminded me a lot of The Lies of Locke Lamora, which is high praise in my book. Excellent world building and magical system, fantastic characters, and I felt it hit the right (if sometimes difficult to read) note on slavery. Sancia’s PTSD was well rendered, and something that should come up more often in fantasy (given the plot points the genre often employs).I had zero gripes with this book-fun, inventive, and incredibly compelling. My only concern going forward is the trajectory of the bigger picture plot. I do hope we’re not headed for a humans vs. gods showdown here. I absolutely hate this trope in fantasy, and it really soured the Divine Cities series for me. *I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
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