Foundryside: A Novel

Foundryside: A Novel

by Robert Jackson Bennett


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"The exciting beginning of a promising new epic fantasy series. Prepare for ancient mysteries, innovative magic, and heart-pounding heists."—Brandon Sanderson

“Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!”—Tamora Pierce

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself—the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.
Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.
But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic—the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience—have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.
Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.
To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525573845
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 05/21/2019
Series: The Founders Trilogy Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 33,017
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

ROBERT JACKSON BENNETT is the author, most recently, of the Divine Cities trilogy, which was a 2018 Hugo Awards finalist in the ‘Best Series’ category. The first book in the series, City of Stairs, was also a finalist for the World Fantasy and Locus Awards, and the second, City of Blades, was a finalist for the World Fantasy, Locus, and British Fantasy Awards. His previous novels, which include American Elsewhere and Mr. Shivers, have received the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Phillip K. Dick Citation of Excellence. He lives in Austin with his family.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

As Sancia Grado lay face down in the mud, stuffed underneath the wooden deck next to the old stone wall, she reflected that this evening was not going at all as she had wanted.

It had started out decently. She’d used her forged identifications to make it onto the Michiel property, and that had gone swimmingly – the guards at the first gates had barely glanced at her.

Then she’d come to the drainage tunnel, and that had gone… less swimmingly. It had worked, she supposed – the drainage tunnel had allowed her to slink below all the interior gates and walls and get close to the Michiel foundry – but her informants had neglected to mention the tunnel’s abundance of centipedes, mud adders, and shit, of both the human and equine variety.

Sancia hadn’t liked it, but she could handle it. That had not been her first time crawling through human waste.

But the problem with crawling through a river of sewage is that, naturally, you tend to gain a powerful odor. Sancia had tried to stay downwind from the security posts as she crept through the foundry yards. But just when she reached the north gate, some distant guard had cried out, “Oh, my God, what is that smell?” and then, to her alarm, dutifully gone looking for the source.

She’d avoided being spotted, but she’d been forced to flee into a dead-end foundry passageway and hide under the crumbling wooden deck, which had likely once been a guard post. But the problem with this hiding place, she’d quickly realized, was it gave her no means of escape: there was nothing in the walled foundry passageway besides the deck, Sancia, and the guard.

Sancia stared out at the guard’s muddy boots as he paced by the deck, sniffing. She waited until he walked past her, then poked her head out.

He was a big man, wearing a shiny steel cap and a leather cuirass embossed with the loggotippo of the Michiel Body Corporate – the candle flame set in the window – along with leather pauldrons and bracers. Most troublingly, he had a rapier sheathed at his side.

Sancia narrowed her eyes at the rapier. She thought she could hear a whispering in her mind as he walked away, a distant chanting. She’d assumed the blade was scrived, but that faint whispering confirmed it – and she knew a scrived blade could cut her in half with almost no effort at all.

This was such a damned stupid way to get cornered, she thought as she withdrew. And I’ve barely even started the job.

She had to get to the carriage fairways, which were probably only about two hundred feet away, behind the far wall. And she needed to get to them sooner rather than later.

She considered her options. She could dart the man, she supposed, for Sancia did have a little bamboo pipe and a set of small but expensive darts that were soaked in the poison of dolorspina fish; a lethal pest found in the deeper parts of the ocean. Diluted enough, the venom should only knock its victim into a deep sleep, with an absolute horror of a hangover a few hours later.

But the guard was sporting pretty decent armor. Sancia would have to make the shot perfect, perhaps aiming for his armpit. The risk of missing was far too high.

She could try to kill him, she supposed. She did have her stiletto, and she was an able sneak, and though she was small, she was strong for her size.

But Sancia was a lot better at thieving than she was killing, and this was a trained merchant house guard. She did not like her chances there.

Moreover, Sancia had not come to the Michiel foundry to slit throats, break faces, or crack skulls. She was here to do a job.

A voice echoed down the passageway: “Ahoy, Nicolo! What are you doing away from your post?”

“I think something died in the drains again. It smells like death down here!”

“Ohh, hang on,” said the voice. There came the sound of footsteps.

Ah, hell, thought Sancia. Now there are two of them

She needed a way out of this, and fast.

She looked back at the stone wall behind her, thinking. Then she sighed, crawled over to it, and hesitated.

She did not want to spend her strength so soon. But she had no choice.

Sancia pulled off her left glove, pressed her bare palm to the dark stones, shut her eyes, and used her talent.

The wall spoke to her.

The wall told her of foundry smoke, of hot rains, of creeping moss, of the tiny footfalls of the thousands of ants that had traversed its mottled face over the decades. The surface of the wall bloomed in her mind, and she felt every crack and every crevice, every dollop of mortar and every stained stone.

All of this information coursed into Sancia’s thoughts the second she touched the wall. And among this sudden eruption of knowledge was what she had really been hoping for.

Loose stones. Four of them, big ones, just a few feet away from her. And on the other side, some kind of closed, dark space, about four feet wide and tall. She instantly knew where to find it like she’d built the wall herself.

There’s a building on the other side, she thought. An old one. Good.

Sancia took her hand away. To her dismay, the huge scar on the right side of her scalp was starting to hurt.

A bad sign. She’d have to use her talent a lot more than this tonight.

She replaced her glove and crawled over to the loose stones. It looked like there had been a small hatch here once, but it’d been bricked up years ago. She paused and listened – the two guards now seemed to be loudly sniffing the breeze.

“I swear to God, Pietro,” said one, “it was like the devil’s shit!” They began pacing the passageway together.

Sancia gripped the topmost loose stone and carefully, carefully tugged at it.

It gave way, inching out slightly. She looked back at the guards, who were still bickering.

Quickly and quietly, Sancia hauled the heavy stones out and placed them in the mud, one after the other. Then she peered into the musty space.

It was dark within, but she now let in a little light – and she saw many tiny eyes staring at her from the shadows, and piles of tiny turds on the stone floor.

Rats, she thought. Lots of them.

Still, nothing to do about it. Without another thought, she crawled into the tiny, dark space.

The rats panicked and began crawling up the walls, fleeing into cracks and crevices in the stones. Several of them scampered over Sancia, and a few tried to bite her – but Sancia was wearing what she called her “thieving rig,” a homemade, hooded, improvised outfit made of thick, gray woolen cloth and old black leather that covered all of her skin and was quite difficult to tear through.

As she got her shoulders through, she shook the rats off or swatted them away – but then a large rat, easily weighing two pounds, rose up on its hind legs and hissed at her threateningly.

Sancia’s fist flashed out and smashed the big rat, crushing its skull against the stone floor. She paused, listening to see if the guards had heard her – and, satisfied that they had not, she hit the big rat again for good measure. Then she finished crawling inside, and carefully reached out and bricked up the hatch behind her.

There, she thought, shaking off another rat and brushing away the turds. That wasn’t so bad.

She looked around. Though it was terribly dark, her eyes were adjusting. It looked like this space had once been a fireplace where the foundry workers cooked their food, long ago. The fireplace had been boarded up, but the chimney was open above her – though she could see now that someone had tried to board up the very top as well.

She examined it. The space within the chimney was quite small. But then, so was Sancia. And she was good at getting into tight places.

With a grunt, Sancia leapt up, wedged herself in the gap, and began climbing up the chimney, inch by inch. She was about halfway up it when she heard a clanking sound below.

She froze and looked down. There was a bump, and then a crack, and light spilled into the fireplace below her.

The steel cap of a guard poked into the fireplace. The guard looked down at the abandoned rat’s nest and cried, “Ugh! Seems the rats have built themselves a merry tenement here. That must have been the smell.”

Sancia stared down at the guard. If he but glanced up, he’d spy her instantly.

The guard looked at the big rat she’d killed. She tried to will herself not to sweat so no drops would fall on his helmet.

“Filthy things,” muttered the guard. Then his head withdrew.

Sancia waited, still frozen – she could still hear them talking below. Then, slowly, their voices withdrew.

She let out a sigh. This is a lot of risk to get to one damned carriage.

She finished climbing and came to the top of the chimney. The boards there easily gave way to her push. Then she clambered out onto the roof of the building, lay flat, and looked around.

To her surprise, she was right above the carriage fairway – exactly where she needed to be. She watched as one carriage charged down the muddy lane to the loading dock, which was a bright, busy blotch of light in the darkened foundry yards. The foundry proper loomed above the loading dock, a huge, near-windowless brick structure with six fat smokestacks pouring smoke into the night sky.

She crawled to the edge of the roof, took off her glove, and felt the lip of the wall below with a bare hand. The wall blossomed in her mind, every crooked stone and clump of moss – and every good handhold to help her find her way down.

She lowered herself over the edge of the roof and started to descend. Her head was pounding, her hands hurt, and she was covered in all manner of filthy things. I haven’t even done step one yet, and I’ve already nearly got myself killed.

“Twenty thousand,” she whispered to herself as she climbed. “Twenty thousand duvots.”

A king’s ransom, really. Sancia was willing to eat a lot of shit and bleed a decent amount of blood for twenty thousand duvots. More than she had so far, at least.

The soles of her boots touched earth, and she started to run.

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Foundryside: A Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
PaulAllard More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable fantasy novel – highly recommended I was pleasantly surprised about how much I enjoyed this fantasy novel, particularly the first half in which the original premise is established. Sancia is a gifted thief sent on a mission which has important consequences for her and for all the characters involved. The fantasy element of the novel centers around the ability to use sigils to "program" objects with individual powers. All the action takes place in one city dominated by merchant families (a bit like Renaissance Venice). This is an exciting novel, well thought-out and developed with interesting characters and an engaging plot. The author has established the beginning of a trilogy by finishing with some issues unresolved. Highly recommended. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
In a dystopian world where only the strong survive by any means necessary, Sancia Grado is a thief extraordinaire, thanks to her unique, magical abilities. Welcome to FOUNDRYSIDE by Robert Jackson Bennett, where magic is controlled by the powerful few and its technology can change the world. When Sancia discovers she is being used as a disposable pawn hired to steal an artifact of immense power, she will gather the most unlikely allies to harness the powers for herself, forever changing her into a being unlike any known before. Adult epic fantasy has arrived with characters that literally jump off the page with their amazing personalities, daring and resolve to do the right thing for all. Fabulous world-building, high octane action and “scriving,” magic that is coded! Will Sancia be corrupted by the potential power at her fingertips? Will she become obsessed with power and money? Has technology reached a new low with no consideration for the masses? Danger lurks around every corner and only the strong can survive. Fascinating reading that will appeal to all!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just wow. Stop reading reviews. Start reading this book. Thank me later.
Arys More than 1 year ago
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett is Founders Book #1. As we are introduced to this world we begin with Sancia Grado a thief in a world that is squeezing out her kind. Her talents and magical abilities make her idea to steal a particular magical artifact for a large amount of money. Little does she know that it will set her on a path to something different than she ever imagined. In Foundryside, Mr. Bennett creates a well developed world with its own unique and functionally believable magic system. Adding to that are characters who are easy to connect with and make the story one that pulls you in on many levels. Sancia was a character who I felt worked well with the world and gave us a good introduction to the magic around her, in a conversational and easy way. Overall I very much enjoyed Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett and the world and characters he created. I can't wait for more. (I voluntarily reviewed an advance review copy of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
jdowell More than 1 year ago
Awesome fantasy and the beginning of a new series! I was thoroughly immersed and absorbed in this adventure. One of the best fantasy books I've read lately. Sancia, who is a thief, has been engaged to steal a box from a safe and is told not to open it. Sancia didn't know it, but this box contained an artifact of unimaginable power. Now there are people who want her dead and want this magical artifact for themselves. The artifact can be used in "scriving" - engraving certain significant symbols on inanimate objects that give them properties to make them think they are something else or have other abilities. This book was so much fun I hated to get to the end and I eagerly await the next in the series. Kudos to Robert Jackson Bennett for a great read! Thanks to Robert Jackson Bennett and Crown Publishing through Netgalley for an advance copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a surprisingly refreshing read. Characters were enjoyable and the world is intriguing. Looking forward to the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by Mr. Bennett and it had me hooked from the start. I plan on reading some of his other novels in the near future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Massive word building artfully done. The characters are implemented and relatable. Perfect dialogue.
DeborahJRoss More than 1 year ago
I just loved this fantasy adventure, with its compelling heroine and system of “industrialized magic.” The world is an oppressive portrayal of social inequality of the Industrial Revolution. Great families wall themselves up in “campos” and live lives of luxury while the rest of the city suffers pollution and dire poverty. Myths from the past provide tantalizing, terrifying hints of how the entire system of magic came into being. Young Sancia managed to escape the slave plantations to eke out a living as a thief in the less savory neighborhoods of a great city. She’s able to “listen” to physical materials: “The wall spoke to her. The wall told her of foundry smoke, of hot rains, of creeping moss, of the tiny footfalls of the thousands of ants…” Sancia’s magic aids her in her marginal living, but is dwarfed by the real magic of the city: sigils that are “instructions written upon mindless objects that convinced them to disobey reality in select ways,” such as altering their gravity or adhesion to other objects. Then Sancia opens a box she has been sent to steal and discovers a sentient key, “Clef,” who can persuade any lock to open, and her world changes forever. She’s not the only one after Clef – her employer will stop at nothing to gain control over the key. But who is her employer and what is that person’s greater plan? Mystery piles on action and personal growth, not only of Sancia herself but other characters. The world and its people are in precarious flux, inwardly and outwardly. This is not a world in which I would like to live, yet almost from the beginning, I cared about Sancia and the people she encounters, especially Clef, who realizes that he more he uses his power to help his only friend, Sancia, the less of his personality survives. The story built as stakes were raised higher and higher. The magic was an intrinsic part of the world-building, with its own logically consistent rules and its own cost. Highly recommended. The usual disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book, but no one bribed me to say anything about it. Although chocolates might be nice.
Emily Grace Acres More than 1 year ago
"Any given innovation that empowers the individual will inevitably come to empower the powerful much, much more." This book was whole lot of fun. If you’re looking to have a good time reading a fantasy in a universe unlike any you have ever read before, then look no further, this is your book. The universe is, without a doubt, my favorite thing about this book. The magic system is based on scrivings or magical runes that convince the object they are attached to that they no longer obey the laws of physics or that they are something else entirely. These scrivings are a tricky business and while amazing for creating super structures that never age or weapons that always hit with the force of gravity they can wreak equal devastation on those that don’t get them right. And the drop is, Sancia, our unlikely but likeable main character can hear the scrivings talk. If that isn’t a compelling premise for a fantasy, I don’t know what is. With the incredible universe also comes an equally unique and unusual cast of rag tag characters that come from all ends of the complex class system in this world. I absolutely loved reading about these characters with their humor and ingenuity and immensely enjoyed them as the vehicle for the adventure. I do have a couple bones to pick with the story however, but the first might have been a result of my own expectations. I felt that the book was trying to straddle it’s way into the grimdark genre but was undermining itself with things like PG curses that took my out of the story entirely. After reading for a while and giving up my expectation of a dark fantasy I was able to embrace the Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-style ridiculousness of the characters and writing and that’s when it really hit it’s stride for me. My other small complaint was the method used to explain the universe to the reader. One of the characters is new to the city and rather than use this character as an easy way to explain the intricacies of the world the author instead used characters that had no business not already knowing the answers to the questions they were asking. Ultimately it felt a bit forced to me and was a real missed opportunity at creating a more natural introduction for the reader. In the end, and after letting go of my own expectations going in, I had a blast with this book and I will definitely be picking up the next books in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Prepare to be pulled into a sweet realm!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time relating to the central character, but she grows in a tremendously satisfying way in this novel. I really hope there will be more to this series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has been a long time since I have been this involved in a book. It totally captivated me and I could not put it down! Dave Kuyk
bookaholique More than 1 year ago
3.5 I will admit that this is not my go to genre. But when I was offered the opportunity to read this, the overview was so interesting, I could not pass it up. Right from the start I fell in love with the main character Sancia. As a burgaler, she gets caught up in some interesting adventures and her current job is the main theme of this book. She lives on her own and is very street smart. She often has to think fast and move even quicker. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this story. I'm glad I took the gamble on reading it and look forward to the next book in the trilogy. My thanks to Crown Publishing and Netgally for allowing me to read this.
S_White_1218 More than 1 year ago
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. This book had so much hype around it. "Oh, it's going to be the next big fantasy!" "Oh, it's so good!" "Oh, the world-building is amazing!" It took me a while to even get into it, so all that hype seemed like mush to me. It felt very Sanderson, almost to the point of being a melding of Mistborn and Stormlight Archives and feeling a little rip-offy (yes, I made that word up. stop interrupting!) Then I decided to set that thought aside and give it a shot. And it went crazy! While it *is* reminiscent of Sanderson, the author has created his own unique magic system, developed a really interesting world, and introduced us to a very interesting cast of characters with depth. Most importantly, the story was FUN -- well, at least for the reader. The poor characters probably wouldn't have said any of it was fun at all. Also, there was an unexpected but very welcome LGBT+ budding relationship that built over time, didn't feel forced, and I can't wait to see where that goes as well. Trigger warning: There is a character who, umm, takes what he wants from women on every level (and to be fair, he does what he wants in every situation, no matter what, not just in getting what he wants from women) without care of morality or consequence. But he gets his. ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a really excellent start to what I suspect will be one of my favorite fantasy series of all time. Excellent writing, compelling plot and engaging from the first to the last page.
cyndecat1 More than 1 year ago
World-building and characterizations are superb in this fist book in the Foundry Trilogy. Combining non-stop action with like-able characters set in a steampunk-ish industrialized society where magic is liken-to computer coding and is used to make inanimate objects operate in ways that defy physics and normality; opens up a world of warring factions. The mostly lawless world is ruled by Merchant Houses that each seek to control. An ancient artifact has been found that could give the holder ultimate control and a thief has been sent to steal it. The story is about power it's use and misuse to gain supremacy. This is a fascinatingly intricate and enjoyable read. The author is a master story craftsman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You know that Jif Peanut Butter commercial? The one where the kid absolutely looses his mind every time he takes a bite because it’s soo good and every bite is like the first? Well, I absolutely hate that commercial but that irritating kid nailed it when it comes to how every page turn felt when I was reading this book. This book blew me away. Right from the very beginning I was hooked. Usually I have two or five books on the go and they all have their own time to be read but I dropped everything for this one. The world and the characters Bennett has built are so incredibly complex but also so amazingly mind blowing that I just could not look away. Who knew that a magical, industrialized world complete with sentient inanimate objects would be JUST what I needed? I took this book with me everywhere and regret nothing! One thing I really loved about this book was the character development. Although I wasn’t immediately drawn into Sancia, Gregor or Orso, as they, and their relationships with each other, grew in the story I found myself rooting for them more and more. Clef is now probably my most favorite character in any book and I need more of him (please?)!! I loved him immediately. My only criticism with this book was the introduction of a romantic possibility. While I am normally all for a little tension and even some tasteful sexy time in the books I read (I normally encourage it actually), I didn’t think it was necessary here and found it didn’t really fit in with the general tone of the rest of the book. Maybe the author is simply setting the stage for something in the next book but I thought it was a little awkward, if I’m being perfectly honest. I think that Foundryside has all the makings for an amazing new fantasy series and I can not wait to see what Robert Jackson Bennett has in store for Sancia and the crew next!
cnbohanan More than 1 year ago
I would like to thank Penguin Random House for reaching out to me about Foundryside. This was a fantastic fantasy novel, and I appreciate them letting me review this through NetGalley! A Synopsis: Sancia Grado is a skilled thief. But when she is sent to a locked down warehouse, she just thinks it is another day on the job. However, what she is sent to steal is anything but ordinary. The artifact she is sent to retrieve is one that could change magic and the world she knows forever. My Thoughts: This book is fantastic! I can't believe I've never read a Robert Jackson Bennett book before, but I will make sure to pick up the rest of his books from here on out. Sancia is a wonderfully fleshed out character, and I thoroughly enjoyed the magic system in this book. Scriving, which is using commands to suggest or command an object to behave differently than it is supposed to, is such an interesting twist in how "magic" traditionally portrayed. Overall, this book was rich with characters and world-building, and I am so glad I was able to get a copy!
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
After reading some of Bennett's other work, I was excited to find out that he had a new novel coming out. The premise for Foundryside sounded fantastic and I knew the world building would be top notch. Even with my high expectations, Foundryside still managed to surprise and impress me. Full of adventure, magic, and political intrigue, this book is one you won't want to put down. At the beginning, I struggled a bit with understanding the world. This was partially because of its complexity and partially because Bennett changes the foundations of his magic system as he establishes them for the reader. However, about a third of the way through the book, something clicked and the world made sense. Bennett's world building is so intricate and detailed, you'll find yourself wanting a guide to all the cool gadgets mentioned or additional stories about random side characters. Sancia, the main character, is a thief. And she's one of the best due to her very unique skillset. After she's hired to steal an unknown object, what she finds may shake the very foundations of her world. Luckily, Sancia is smart, crafty, and has plenty of inner strength and determination. I loved the relationship between her and Clef, the unexpectedly sentient key she stole. The other characters in the book were interesting. However, I struggled to really connect with any of them, despite how entertaining and intriguing I found them. The story was a wild, action-packed ride. It would be brilliant if translated to screen (plus the magic system is one that wouldn't be too difficult to portray well). I enjoyed the action scenes and seeing how Sancia and Clef escaped each new peril. This book was equal parts heist, mystery, and political intrigue. Plus there were some unexpected musings on morality that I found fascinating. One of Bennett's strengths as a writer lies in crafting the overarching mythology for his series and this is on full display in Foundryside. While there were parts of the book that I thought could have been stronger, it was nevertheless an entertaining read. Foundryside had strong, unique world-building and an entertaining, action-packed plot. This was a strong start to a promising new series and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the next book. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
CaptainsQuarters More than 1 year ago
Ahoy there me mateys! So what Peter Newman did with a goat in his novel the vagrant, this book does with a key.  Seriously read this for the key.  In any case, I be a sucker for a heist story.  Especially a heist gone wrong.  This is the story about thief-extraordinaire, Sancia Grado and the consequences of her latest conquest.  Sadly for her, it involves everyone wanting her dead.  I adored Sancia.  From the first page, I was rooting for her.  She is snarky, smart, moody, and wonderful.  She is the heart and soul of the story. The world building in this one is lovely as well.  The major city is called Tevanni.  It is run by four competing merchant Houses, called campos, that remind me of medieval guilds.  These campos work with magical writing called scrivings.  These are formed by writing sigils onto inanimate objects to change the reality within the object.  Wheels that roll themselves, floating lamps, doors that require specific commands to open, etc.  The science behind these scrivings are highly controlled by the houses and competition is fierce. For people outside of the campos, like Sancia, there is only the struggle to survive.  Scrivings are for the rich Houses.  The poor live in shanty towns, called Commons, with no laws, no clean drinking water, and very little food.  Trust is scarce and death is a careless moment away. Of course Sancia is a fighter and watching her take on the campos is where the fun is.  The plot does get to be a bit melodramatic and unrealistic but I didn't care.  I loved learning about the scrivings.  I reveled in the schemes of Sancia.  I adored the magic system.  I was fascinated by the history.  I chuckled at the humor.  While I was a little confused by the very ending of this book, I certainly want to read the next book.  I have to know what happens next! I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for me honest musings. Arrr!
Beths-Books More than 1 year ago
When a book throws you into the sewers right off the bat, you can either hold on for the ride or soak in the smell. It takes guts to put a reader in this situation, but it was well written and worth the trouble. I loved the little key. It fit in with the character and pushed the story along. There was so much to this story that sometimes I got lost, but was able to quickly catch up and keep reading. This was a good weekend read that I'm excited to share with you. Three stars for a good read. Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Qwillery More than 1 year ago
I started Foundryside with a bit of trepidation. I've read every novel that Robert Jackson Bennett has written and fell in love with his Divine Cities Trilogy - the first trilogy he's written. Could Bennett once again create a striking world with wonderful characters that drive the story? Could the plot again be compelling, deeply engaging and as exciting? Could I care about the characters as deeply? The answer to all these questions is an unequivocal "yes". Foundryside is set in city of Tevanne which is run by four Merchant Houses. The Merchant Houses have monetized magic technology and have become rich and greedy. The areas in Tevanne not controlled by the Merchant Houses are lawless, grimy and extremely dangerous. One of these areas is called Foundryside and this is where we find Sancia Grado, an extraordinary thief. She's taken on a job to steal an artifact and has no idea what she is getting herself into. Because of this particular heist more than one person wants Sancia dead. In order to survive, she will team up with an unlikely group of individuals from within and without the Merchant Houses. Sancia is a wonderful character - strong, flawed, damaged, funny, brave. She comes from a horrific background. She is such a remarkable thief because of something that was done to her; something that Bennett reveals slowly and the horror of it for Sancia (and the reader) is palpable. However, this is an ensemble piece and the people that Sancia encounters and works with are wonderfully developed throughout the novel. In their own rights each of the characters is remarkable. There are also plenty of bad actors and villains to go around. This world is full of gray and everything is not as black and white as it may seem. The magic system is intricate and Bennett delves deeply into how it works and its antecedents. There is a lot of history of this world and Bennett does not skimp with explaining much of it while not overwhelming the story. There is still a great deal we don't know about this magical technology and this world. Social issues are touched upon as well - how the technological marvels created only benefit some and not all; how some people are disposable and others are elevated; and more. While Bennett resolves the main plot of Foundryside he leaves open several questions for the upcoming novels. Note for those who don't like cliffhangers - there isn't one. There is mystery, nail-biting action, magic, technology, fights, heists, some gore, and much to love about this new world and these new characters. Bennett has done it again. Foundryside is a marvelously entertaining, thrilling and riveting start of a new epic fantasy trilogy.
SCostner More than 1 year ago
This book starts off a new series with some very interesting characters and a lot of room to add others. The world is built on the ruins of a former civilization and the founders are using the scraps of what they have learned to create some amazing and some awful things. The protagonist, Sancia, is a thief - but readers will be very sympathetic to her as they learn more of her backstory and come to see why she is isolated, loath to touch anyone, and desperate to escape from her current location. She is not one of the fortunate who work directly for the Founders, and definitely not a member of one of the Founder families. So she has little hope of survival in their world of mechanical marvels that seem to run on magical inscriptions built into the mechanisms. But as we follow her path into an increasingly complicated situation, we can see how the traditions and customs of the Founders have created a strict class system, and how tightly controlled the power is within their world. The more hopeless the plight of those like Sancia seems, the more we root for her to succeed. As she weighs everyone she encounters to determine if they are ally or enemy, we look through her eyes and make those same judgments. We won't know if we are right, if she is right, until the very end. And even that is unsure, since it is only the first book in this new tale. For those who like heroines who persist, even though they have been deeply wronged or hurt; for those who savor complicated plots and detailed settings; for those who have enjoyed stories such as The Court of Fives, or existing fans of Robert Jackson Bennett - give this book a try.
diane92345 More than 1 year ago
Sancia is a master thief. She lives in Foundryside, a slum outside the four ruling merchant houses in the town of Tevanne. In Foundryside, scribing is used to make objects do the will of the scribner. When we first meet Sancia, she is using a complicated plan to break into a safe at the well-guarded Tevanne waterfront. She has a special skill of feeling the emotions and particularly the flaws of inanimate and animate objects simply by touching them. This is a great gift for a thief as walls can tell her where their handholds are and safes can tell her their combinations. However, it is a problem in real life. Sancia has to keep her entire body covered so she isn’t receiving the emanations constantly. The more she uses her gift, the more her head aches. When she returns triumphantly with her booty, she is curious what is in the box she has stolen. What she finds is Clef, a key with a big personality. Foundryside has fantastic worldbuilding. No one would want to live in Foundryside, but a quick visit is fun. The mood is playful. The setting is imaginative. Sancia is a great character who readers will love. I love a good genre mash-up and this combines a fantasy world with a thief’s tale. It seems like a combination of Ocean’s Eleven with Les Miserables (if you can picture that!) The fact that the rich are fat and evil while the poor are struggling with just survival seems fitting for our times. Overall, if you liked Artemis by Andy Weir, you will probably enjoy this book too. 4 stars! Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy.