The Fiction Fox
Review: Foundryside - Robert Jackson Bennett
Published: Crown Publishing, August 2018
Rating: 5/5 stars
“They said I was one thing. But I have changed my mind.”
An unintentional consequences of reading within a certain genre is that you might develop a sort of “bar for greatness” to which you hold all other books within said genre. It might be your all-time favourite book, it might be the one that first introduced you to the genre, or even the one that made you feel “wow, this is great: I need more of this!”. For me, that bar for epic fantasy is the feeling I had upon first reading Mistborn (specifically The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson). I will never forget that feeling of thrill, absolute excitement and wonder to discover the intricate world Sanderson had created. Subsequently, I don’t think any book since has brought me back to that particular feeling. Until Foundrysides.
From a story point of view, both titles aren’t dissimilar either: both feature a skilled female thief, from a background of slavery and oppression as a protagonist. Both novels begin as a heist-story, but end up being about far bigger, and far more things than just that. Despite those similarities, both novels feel entirely unique due to their wonderful worldbuilding. Foundrysides steampunk-inspired world runs on “scrivings”: a forgotten language that “tells” an object their properties. If you’re able to change the scrivings, you can essentially convince an object to be something it’s not: tell a rock it’s weightless, a wall it’s unbreakable, or even convince a lock to open for you. When Sancia comes across an object that can help her do just that, it’s the beginning of an adventure that will change her life and the world around her.
Scriving not only opens up the most amazing opportunities for action, creative solutions and challenges, but it’s also a wonderful source of humour in this book. Being in Sancia’s mind as she argues with some highly neurotic objects to change their structure for her is frankly hilarious. The pacing was perfect, characters were funny and likable, despite being sometimes a bit morally questionable. My only complaint would be the villain who became a bit cartoony in the end. Even so, I’ll happily forgive that for the amazingness that was this book. I simply cannot wait to continue this series, before continuing on to the rest of Robert Jackson Bennetts ouvre. Although I still adore Brandon Sanderson, maybe Mistborn has to share its spot as my “bar for greatness” from here on out…
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