Fantasy Review: ‘Full Fathom Five’ by Max Gladstone

Third in the series but I think it may be the best one yet. The world is starting to tie together Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence #3)in lots of interesting ways. This time we are taken to a city that wants nothing to do with the gods and deathless kings that rule other parts of the world; religion is not snuffed out but rather minds are reprogrammed the right way by giant stone terrors known as penitents. Rather than gods or goddesses this is a land of idols; keep some of the benefits but none of the pesky will that deities tend to have.

Alternating between two characters, a street rat that who befriends a hidden angel (that’s what I am calling her at least) and a priestess who watches the death of a god she helped create. One remembering a dead god who should have never existed, the other mourning one that died under seemingly normal circumstances.   Eventually they are tied together by a poet who’s rise to fame can only be described as a minor miracle- in a land where that should be impossible.

Some series makes the reader fall in love with the world and this is no exception. This strange semi-urban setting Gladstone lays out continues to impress. Many of the larger concepts important to Full Fathom Five were laid down by earlier books; human soul as currency, necromancer lawyers, and living gods remain important. Each city visited so far have interacted with gods in different ways but the deities presence are strongly felt in each of them.

Better still is the way Gladstone continues to give an entirely new cast with each outing that immediately catch my interest. This is a bold approach, we know people often invest more in characters more than they do in authors, to start over each time is not an easy trick. Kai the priestess and Izza the thief show that this approach works though. We follow them for different reasons; Kai seems more important to the larger picture of the city but Izza acting a priestess of gods that shouldn’t exist provides the earlier hook into the world. It allows a slower set up for Kai, who eases into her role, because Izza’s path is action packed from the get go. Of course as the story goes on we find they both have equally important parts in this play.

Everything I have said complementary about previous works in this series still apply; imaginative, deep, smart, and wonderful. Seeing characters start to show up from the previous books is feels natural; life is moving forward and all that. The Craft Sequence is one of my favorite series going these days, I can’t recommend it enough.

4 Stars

Thank you to Tabitha for letting me read her copy!