Sunday, February 1, 2015

Book Review: Three Parts Dead (Book One in the Craft Sequence)

3. Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

I received this book, unsolicited, for review from Tor back in 2012. At the time, I dutifully started reading, but was overwhelmed by work, school, and medical issues, so I DNF-d and haven't gone back to it till this January.

Honestly, I remembered it being of interest, but that the effort required to figure out what the heck was going on in the world wasn't worth it to me at the time. This time, I did a quick review scan of the book, and picked up where I left off. At first, the world remained equally confusing, but it became more clear as I read on (Here's Max Gladstone explaining the origins of the idea for his world).

Remember when I said that The Inheritance Series were the first books I'd read that I remembered gods featuring prominently? That's still kinda true. Three Parts Dead's plot literally hinges on the death of a god, but the prominent characters are still human (and not-so-human).

Tara Abernathy is an attractive, defiant everywoman whose most exciting feature is that she is definitively and non-negotiably black. It's strange because, if you think about it, there's no reason for most sci fi/fantasy female protagonists to be any particular race, but most of them are either definitively, or assumed to be, white. So, Tara's race is a breath of fresh air. Otherwise, she's your average ball-kicking, magic-wielding female protagonist.

Other characters include Tara's boss, an ass-kicking magical female lawyer; a monk of the dead fire god Kos; a woman addicted to her service of the resurrected goddess Justice; and a sailor vampire. The bad guy is, appropriately, a magical male (I'm assuming, white) lawyer who has unsavory controlling habits. Gargoyles also come in. Gods come in mostly as a literal deus ex machina.

Three Parts Dead is entertaining in the same way that one of those board games that take all night is entertaining (Power Grid, I'm looking at you). If you enjoy spending most of your time figuring out what is going on, and love payoff in the form of arcane legal practices, extremely weird characters, and a neat wrap-up, this is for you. I suspect many self-proclaimed geeks and nerds should be rushing to buy this if they haven't already. Personally, I could take it or leave it. It was worth it in the end-but, oh, the journey.

Also, since Three Parts Dead came out, there have been two additional novels in the Craft Sequence: Two Serpents Rise and Full Fathom Five. Last First Snow is set to come out in July 2015. They all appear to deal with different protagonists, in the same world.

Received for review from the publisher.

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