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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead


I liked this book a bit more than I expected.

 I think the largest reason for that was that the characters all had some complicated motivations that weren't always clear and that they were, honestly, good at fucking up along the way. I do not mean to say they were incompetent, merely human. Also, I enjoyed the society that this book was set it. It was thought out and treated with care. It was dark and mysterious, but with some optimism, as if the people in it hadn't given over to malaise and hopelessness yet. I like that as it is easy to be dark and mean, but not so easy to see that situation and have characters interact with it without becoming jaded, or worse, becoming indifferent. Instead, they become better people for it, people that want more and refuse to settle for what they have.

I also enjoyed the way magic worked. It felt like it was based in a kind of science, but not a real-world science. Further, the sides between The Craft and the Applied Theology were two sides of the same coin. One worship nature and starlight, the other a God or Goddess.

Does this sound familiar?

Actually...this book sort of felt like it was familiar a lot...as if, maybe it was set in our world? Oh, but that's silly, isn't it?

Well, anyway, I found it interesting that this book gave me what I needed to go with the narrative and understand things happening, but also left some blank spaces for me to connect. It wants you to think about the world it is in instead of just spelling out the legacy of the world. And again, there is that feeling like something happened to Earth and people stopped worshiping Gods as we know them and instead worshiped practical ideas, giving them form and power?

Regardless of these small complaints, however, it has become increasingly fashionable to construct worlds where the magic is explained away using laws of thermodynamics or, worse still, some obscure D&D rule set. Interesting and refreshing as these additions may be when we first read them, for it to have taken control of the genre is painful to see. The magic of the world is drained away and replaced with something cold. This book , for its short-comings, side steps this fashion and still strides confidently with its originality.

Also, I thought the ending was a slight cop-out.