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Shorefall (The Founders) Paperback – February 20, 2020
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'A refreshing look at magic - featuring a heroine every reader will root for - from one of the smartest writers I know', says Peter V. Brett, New York Times bestselling author of The Demon Cycle
The upstart firm Foundryside is struggling to make it. Orso Igancio and his star employee, former thief Sancia Grado, are accomplishing brilliant things with scriving, the magical art of encoding sentience into everyday objects, but it's not enough. The massive merchant houses of Tevanne won't tolerate competition, and they're willing to do anything to crush Foundryside.
But even the merchant houses of Tevanne might have met their match. An immensely powerful and deadly entity has been resurrected in the shadows of Tevanne, one that's not interested in wealth or trade routes: a hierophant, one of the ancient practitioners of scriving. And he has a great fascination for Foundryside, and its employees - especially Sancia.
Now Sancia and the rest of Foundryside must race to combat this new menace, which means understanding the origins of scriving itself - before the hierophant burns Tevanne to the ground.
- Publisher : Jo Fletcher Books (February 20, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1786487896
- ISBN-13 : 978-1786487896
- Item Weight : 1.36 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.98 x 1.65 x 9.13 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,050,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reviewed in the United States on July 6, 2022
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By Tay8076 on July 5, 2022
While not as tightly plotted as the first book, Shorefall is still a wonderwork of fantasy writing. The stakes are upped just the right amount in comparison to the first book. The main villain of the series so far, the first of the heirophants, is bone-chillingly terrifying in the best ways. You really are scared of him while you read — there’s no second guessing, no well-maybe-he’s-right in this book. He’s just flat out terrifying, and you hope-hope-hope that our heroes save the day. The author did an amazing job of showing just enough to prove that this villain is not someone to underestimate.
The reason I docked a star is something that happens towards the middle-end of the book. Hover to read bc it’s a spoiler but it’s regarding Sancia and Berenice and something they do together.
I’m still not sure how I feel about the twinned-mind thing. It was supposed to be temporary but it seems fairly permanent by the end of the novel. Then again, it isn’t all that clear on how much time actually passes between them twinning and the end of the book. First read through of this book, it didn’t bother me. Second read through, it’s sort of…hm. It feels convenient? Like I get what the author is going for, and where it will probably end up, but. IDK. Let me know if you feel the same way!
The best part of Shorefall, though, is the reveal of who the villain actually is. I will not spoil this because it is so chef’s-kiss perfect that I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. But you really don’t see it coming until it’s right on top of you, and then everything sort of clicks into place.
Shorefall did not disappoint; Robert Jackson Bennett isn’t afraid to put his characters through some really tough times and hard decisions. You are genuinely scared for them because he isn’t afraid to kill people off or have them make terrible sacrifices.
One of the best things about this series is the world and how it works. It is built on scrivings, which are little rules written into materials that make them do a specific thing or think they are something else. Like wood scrived to think it is as hard as stone, locks that are smart and will only accept specific keys. The entire city has thousands of these all around, forcing reality to believe it is something different.
Now a God-like creature, a Heirophant, who once destroyed most of the world has returned and wants to remake the city into what he thinks mankind should be. Once you find out how a Heirophant was made, it is hard to think anything they want will be good. If this one gets his way, it will not go well for mankind.
***“Ofelia…” said his voice. “You wish to make a moral world, do you not? A just, equitable, sane world?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Yes. Of course you do. And sometimes I find it takes a lot of treachery and death to make a moral world. That is simply the way of things.” ***
Our cast of characters from Foundryside will be there working together with a powerful tool at their side trying to stop the returning Heirophant. Sancia can hear and see scrivings; she can even sometimes convince them to change, a trick she learned from a very special key. Sancia made 'friends' with Valeria, a tool once used by the Heirphant to change the world, until the tool became as powerful as the man who made her and went to war with him thousands of years ago. But, should you trust the powerful tool that seems to have an agenda of her own?
I loved the characters in this. None of them are great fighters, well except the former soldier Gregor, but all of them bring something smart and unique to the table. They were a small band trying to break the main houses who controlled the city. They never expected to have to fight an almost god and his most powerful tool.
***“I remember the plan,” said Sancia. “I just also remember there’s a lot of spots in the plan that say, ‘Sancia improvises a bunch of crap.’ Which is not, you know, comforting.” ***
Founders is a series I’m both desperate and terrified to finish. I’ve read other series by RJB and I know that nothing is off the table for him. The conclusions to his stories can be bittersweet for some characters and just down right sad for others. But I never guess what the endings will be and for that I’m always grateful and in the past I have left his series feeling satisfied with the endings.
Another wonderful smart fantasy told by Robert Jackson Bennet and I was really happy that a certain key wasn’t left out of the story since he was one of my favorite things from Foundryside.
I loved the first book so much and I was incredibly excited to receive an ARC of the second book! And I think I read it at the exact right time. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett said it best in that "most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people." (Good Omens). I think Bennett is channeling that same opinion, whether he knows it or not. Terrible things have happened to Sancia and Gregor (and just about everyone else, too) but there's unfortunately no way to separate that abuse of power from what it means to be human on the most basic level. The events and choices they are all forced to make combine into a lovely commentary on society.
There were parts I found slow and a bit tedious at times. But there were others that were so innovative, so powerful and touching that I kept going to see how they would be used further. And I love that while I could figure out bits and pieces of the impending twists, I couldn't predict all of them. It kept me invested in the story and I very much appreciate that.
Our friends have difficult choices ahead of them. I have no idea if all will end happily, terribly, or somewhere in the middle. But I'm excited to see where they go and how they use what they've learned for the best.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book but with one caveat: the third one is not out yet. So if a work-in-progress is a deal-breaker for you, just tuck this into your to-be-read pile and keep your eyes open for the rest of the story!
Top reviews from other countries
In a city that’s ruled by four merchant houses for centuries based on there command of scriving basically the ability to convince reality to do what you want, revolution has come on the back of the first book, the lamp lands has been created a host of independent scriveners following in the foot steps of Orso, Sancia, Gregor and Berenice who set up there own house known as Foundryside. Fresh off pulling a con job agaisnt one of the merchant houses things get hectic when a sometime ally warns of a ancient enemy’s resurrection after that things soon spiral out of control with Foundryside having to bring all there combined experience, abilities and ingenuity to the forefront just to survive.
This is a stronger book by far then the first one, and that was pretty great. However the stakes are much higher, the Antagonist is much better fleshed out then in book one and while undoubtedly not a good guy you nevertheless have to see his point to at least a degree. In fact this is a much more complex book then the first book, there are no clear right or wrongs and the crew lurch from one necessary evil to another, things get much more bleak as, in some ways , human nature itself becomes the enemy.
It’s the tight bonds between the four that keep things from becoming too dark even as Foundryside and the City of trevane seem to be forced into a no win situation. Exciting, well paced and excellently written this is another great book by Robert Jackson bennet, well worth your time and money,
the worst part will be the wait for book three.
Yes there are a couple of major character deaths but they aren’t integral to the story progression and are just in there for dramatic effect.
At the end of the day it all feels like a set up for the rest of the story over however many books he decides to write on the subject.
It doesn't quite clear the super high bar of the first book but it's a riveting read. Looking forwards to the next one!
Plot continued to push on, twists and turns throughout (I called the twist with a key character), however there’s a lot that takes you by surprise.
Ending leaves you wanting more, and I for one cannot wait for the conclusion.
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