Friday, 1 November 2013

#CBR5 Book 131. "Thee Parts Dead" by Max Gladstone

Page count: 336 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Tara is a newly hired first year associate with the firm of Kelethres, Albrecht and Ao, and on her very first assignment, she needs to help resurrect a god. Kos, the fire god of Alt Coulumb, has mysteriously died (he may have been murdered) and if he cannot be brought back within the month, the power he supplied to the city will shut down, and there will be chaos.

Abelard is the cleric who was on duty when Kos died, and he is naturally having a bit of a crisis of faith, which he handles by chain-smoking incessantly. He is asked to aid Elayne Kevarian (Tara's boss) and Tara with the case, which also seems to involve a murdered judge, supposedly exiled gargoyles, and the re-appearance of Tara's old mentor, who's also responsible for her being expelled from the Hidden Schools before graduating. There are mysterious things afoot in Alt Coulumb - but who has the most to benefit from the death of Kos? How far are they willing to go to stop him being resurrected and restored to power?

This is not an easy book to classify. It's alternate reality urban fantasy, meets mystery meets steampunk. There are magical systems, and different religious beliefs. There's the necromantic Craft, and the strange legal battles that take place before a case can be settled. The necromancers seem to be part lawyers, part magic wielders. We discover the rules and customs of the world gradually, and the information is sometimes portioned out sparingly, not giving the reader the full story until a long way into the book.

The characters are distinctive, and complex, and not always admirable or likable, but they're never not interesting. I loved the world building and the rules for the use of magic. That gods are powered by the belief of their worshippers is nothing new, but that a god can be the source of power for an entire city is a cool and unusual idea. I liked Tara's ambition, I loved Elayne's cool ruthlessness, and I liked Abelard's genuine faith and devotion. Max Gladstone is a very entertaining writer, and having recently discovered that this is not a stand alone book, and that the next book in the series is out now, I will absolutely be reading more of his work.

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