Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Three Parts Dead by Max GladstoneThree Parts Dead (Craft Sequence #1) by Max Gladstone
Published: Tor Books (2012), eBook, 336pg
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Source: Bought


Summary:

A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.

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I can’t remember how this ended up on my wishlist, but it probably had something to do with the cover. LOOK at it! It’s so amazing– and the story inside is just as good.

Loved the protagonist, Tara, and her scary-competent boss. Abelard, a monk with shades of various Terry Pratchett characters, was also very likable. I had a great time rooting for Tara and Abelard to solve the mystery and save the city.

I also REALLY liked the way the characters (and the story) worked through different ideas of power. Power of gods vs. humans, power of man vs. woman, power of the mind vs. body, etc. It made the story more thoughtful than just a regular fantasy-mystery– though of course it’s a superb fantasy-mystery, too!

The world of Three Parts Dead is sort of generically magical, in that way where you can’t pull out specific influences beyond vaguely Middle Eastern/Mesopotamian(?), but some of the details were new and interesting. For example, magic happens because you use pieces of your soul to create spells; you can also pay for goods and services using pieces of your soul/energy, and part of the mystery comes from untangling misuse of a soul’s energy. It’s a unique take on magic, one I don’t think I’ve seen before. Yay for new stuff!

For all that Three Parts Dead is set in a completely fantasy world, it still felt very strongly tied to urban fantasy roots. Stick the story in NYC and nobody would blink. That could be good or bad. On the one hand, it means the story’s familiar enough that you can sink into it pretty easily. On the other hand, it makes the world of Three Parts Dead feel a little stagnant because a lot of the elements of an urban fantasy are so overdone nowadays. I suppose it’s like with any popular genre, though: you have to have enough differences to make it stand out, but keep it similar enough that people who’re fans of that genre don’t get scared off.

So I guess that means Three Parts Dead is a perfect gateway book for people who’ve only read urban fantasy but are interested in branching out! For those who don’t like urban fantasy much, I still think you’d like Three Parts Dead because it doesn’t exactly follow the standard UF script. It has the feel of an UF, but the body is very much its own.

As for me, I’m definitely adding the second book to my wishlist.

Read: June 9, 2014

3 Comments

  1. The more I think about this book, the more I like it! Gladstone’s exploring some really exciting territory. I’m fascinated by how he reshapes the concept of a secondary world to fit certain UF tropes, with plenty of his own inventiveness in the mix. The whole corporate angle hooked me but good, too.

    I’m most of the way through the second book, and it’s even better.

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