– goodreads –
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher (Crown) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
(also, this is my first ARC)
A lovechild of Sanderson, Lynch, and Gladstone as I have heard it described would be an apt comparison indeed.
What a fucking book. This one will make it big, mark my words. It has something for everyone. Fans of high-paced, action fantasy? Check. Those looking for likable characters? Check. Magic system enthusiasts, those who want (mild) social critique, those looking for heist books, female characters with agency (who are not all fighters!)…there’s so much to love.
Sancia is a thief with some mysterious abilities. Living in the lawless area between the merchant house enclaves (or campos), she makes her living by stealing various objects…until one day, after what was supposed to be a particularily expensive job, curiosity gets the better of her and things get complicated.
And holy mother of fuck, what a ride it is. It’s intense and fast-paced from start to end, and I was swearing like a sailor with a broken leg. I am not used to such a pace. It’s full of twists and turns and surprises and things with massive implications. And the ending. Tying up the storyline nicely, yet leaving enough open for the sequels. And, again, intense, even moreso than the rest of the book.
The characters are likable enough. Sancia’s stoic and pragmatic and capable and somewhat snarky, but not unrealistically so. She, Orso (the cranky old fart he is), and Clef were my favourites. Berenice as well. Only Gregor and the final villain fell a bit flat to me. And the romantic subplot, while very minimal, was pretty damn cute (and casually LGBTQ+ <3).
(bonus: fanart of Sancia I drew)
The setting’s a dystopian mix of unrestricted capitalism taken to a logical extreme with a dash of colonialism, in dire need of a revolution. Unless you live in the walled parts of the city owned by corporations (or Foundries), you’re screwed. There are no laws, almost no magitech amenities people inside enjoy, not much of a living to make.
Scriving is pretty much magical programming. As a compsci student, I appreciated the attention given to how disastrous a bug could be when dealing with real objects, as well as the magical equivalent of hacking, but it could get somewhat infodumpy at points. The basic concept of how it works in particular was repeated very, very often at the start, and I generally prefer vaguer magic, but it was well done regardless.
I haven’t read any books by Robert Jackson Benett before, but now I certainly will.
Recommended to: fans of systemic magic, those looking for thief protagonists, those who like a bit more action in their books…pretty much everyone, really?
Not recommended to: people looking for slower stories, those who strongly prefer vague magic