Foundryside was an incredibly addictive and entertaining read from start to finish.
I’m a recent fan of Robert Jackson Bennett’s books. Three months ago on the last week of May, I binged read his critically acclaimed trilogy, The Divine Cities, and it became one of my favorite trilogies of all time; I forced my friends and everyone I know to pushed the trilogy up their TBR immediately. Since finishing The Divine Cities, Foundryside, the first book in Bennett’s newest trilogy, immediately became one of my most awaited book of the year; I pre-ordered a hardcover (I usually order paperback) of the book because I can’t wait any longer and I want to give my support to the author as best as I could. Foundryside lived up to my high expectation and upon finishing it, I’m happy to say that Bennett has become the seventh author to be included in my ‘favorite author’ list.
“All things have a value. Sometimes the value is paid in coin. Other times, it is paid in time and sweat. And finally, sometimes it is paid in blood.
Humanity seems most eager to use this latter currency. And we never note how much of it we’re spending, unless it happens to be our own.”
The passage above was taken from the first page of the book, and I had a really good feeling I’m going to enjoy this; I was proven right. The story in Foundryside began with a heist. Sancia Grado, the main protagonist, which is also a super talented thief, was sent to steal an artifact—without knowing its usage—in exchange for a large sum of money that could improve her the quality of her daily life. Out of curiosity, she opened the box and after that, the main plot truly starts with danger constantly coming after her; and she must give it her all to survive. The book was magnificently well-paced and I was completely engrossed by every single aspect of the novel. In fact, I read 350 pages of the book in a day and finished the remaining 150 pages the next day on a weekday; it was that addictive to read, and I found myself thinking about continuing every time I’m not reading it.
A lot of factors contributed to how great the book was, but let me start by saying that the book was almost like a tribute to Brandon Sanderson’s; my current favorite author of all time. And no, just because it felt similar doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. The main character, Sancia reminds me a lot of Vin (the main protagonist of Mistborn), which is a good thing because I consider Vin one of the best heroines ever to be written. Sancia, although still young, wasn’t written like the typical young main character, who does stupid things just because they’re young, or sometimes for no reason at all. While being young can make one do stupid things, it doesn’t make it enjoyable to read. This is why Sancia became such a great main character to follow. She’s smart, quick-witted, has a mysterious past, and she gets things done when she must. Most of all, she’s really well-written that I can’t help but be invested in her predicament.
“One day I’ll live a life that doesn’t force me to make such cold-blooded decisions, she thought. But today is not that day.”
It’s not only Sancia that was well-written; Bennett has always been wonderful in his characterizations, and he proved that once again by writing great, complex, and humorous supporting characters in the book to accompany Sancia, with easily accessible prose. Clef was one of the main keys to the success of the book and his past, secrets, and dynamic interaction with Sancia became one of the strongest driving force behind the narrative. The memorable characters, combined with the plot that revolved around sacrifice, innovation, survival, identities, and pulse-pounding heists turned the book from your normal fantasy read to one highly fascinating fast-paced fantasy book that never neglects the crucial characterizations.
“Any given innovation that empowers the individual will inevitably come to empower the powerful much, much more.”
Finally, I want to talk about the magic system, Scriving; the art of using coded commands to change or convince an object to behave differently from their purposes. Scriving contains a lot of similarity with the magic system of Forgery in Sanderson’s novella, The Emperor’s Soul, and this is another thing I appreciate. There were a few info dumps—a quite necessary one—in the earlier section of the book regarding the magic system but once you’re past that, everything became a fast-paced ride full of amazing and memorable scenes. I found the magic system to be a mixture of fantasy and science fiction; through Scriving, Bennett cleverly displayed the implication, for better or worse, of advanced innovation in technology and knowledge. Once a technology has become one of our daily necessities, imagine what would happen when you take that away.
I’ll try to give an example of something simple. What if social media doesn’t exist? This and many reviews most likely won’t see the light of day and authors/publishers will definitely have to resort to the old way of advertising: without Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook for promotion. We didn’t get to see something like The Blink from The Divine Cities in this book, but we did see one or two moments where the improvement in technology was taken away and the result, as always, was devastating. I really enjoyed reading the themes in the story and Bennett knows how to portray the world-building gradually to his reader through the perspectives of his characters. Plus, I found the intricate magic system that combined magic and technology to be a great recipe for awesome action sequences, and believe me, Bennett delivered plenty of exhilarating ones that will keep you on the edge of your seat several times throughout the book.
Foundryside was a fantastic beginning to a new trilogy, one that I immensely struggled to put down. I truly think that you will have a damn good time with this book if you consider yourself a fan of Robert Jackson Bennett’s or Brandon Sanderson’s works. I just finished this a few hours ago and I’m already dying for the sequel. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a fantasy with wonderful characterizations, fascinating premise, intricate magic system, and to all the fans of Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jackson Bennett books.
You can order the book HERE!