Hello! Welcome back to BB&B! Today I’m bringing you a review of a new fantasy novel by Robert Jackson Bennett. Since the book doesn’t come out until August 21st, I’m going to do a spoiler-free review for you all. So unlike most of my reviews, you can read the whole post before picking up the book! I typically don’t do a lot of spoiler-free reviews here because I usually just want to talk about the books I read in depth and hear thoughts and opinions on it from you guys, rather than try to convince you to read it. But since the publisher (Penguin Random House) sent me an advance copy, and since I loved the book so much, I’m gonna let you in on what the book is about so you can go grab it on launch day! Trust me, you’re going to want to get your hands on this book ASAP! So let’s get in to it.
Foundryside is an adult fantasy novel that takes place in a city ruled by merchant families who each possess a device called a lexicon, which powers a kind of magic called scriving. Scriving is a huge part of the book and weaves its way through every aspect of the story. Basically, what it is, is magic markings made on inanimate (and sometimes animate) objects that command them to be or act a certain way. For example, a bolt shot from a crossbow can be scrived to believe that it is actually falling from several thousand feet in the air and is being pulled by gravity, so that when it hits its target the impact is way more deadly. We find out that pretty much everything in the city of Tevanne is scrived in some way and it makes for some really cool reality-bending situations for our characters to deal with.
Our main character, Sancia is pretty much a badass. She’s smart and witty and quick and flawed but in the best way. She’s been through a lot in her life that has really made her so resilient and that’s what I love about her. She has the ability to touch objects and feel their scrivings and “see” through walls and floors and such. The ability makes her a pretty formidable thief/sneak as you can imagine. It’s an ability and also a curse though, since she cannot turn it off, so feeling so much with just a touch gets to be overwhelming and exhausting for her. She was not born with these abilities and really just wants some way to turn them off, which leads her to a mission from an unknown client, to steal an item from a heavily guarded merchant dock. The pay is high enough to, just maybe, afford her a special doctor to remove her curse.
The heist leads Sancia on a pretty epic adventure. We meet some fantastic characters along the way and really explore the rich world Robert Jackson Bennett has built. The world-building in this novel is freaking amazing! The magic is pretty complex and there’s so many dimensions to the world because of it, but the story is told in such a great way, that none of it is confusing. You really feel like you are getting a full view of how the world works and it’s so engrossing. You also get a taste of the history of the magic and how it shaped Tevanne and weaves into the history of the city itself and the different merchant houses. When talking about books we say that the story is either plot-driven or character-driven, with Foundryside I feel like it really is world-driven with some great characters and a really interesting plot. RJB definitely set the stage for a really fantastic series.
I highly recommend this book to all my fantasy lovers out there, as well as people who are new to the genre. Yes, it is a little complex, but like I said before it is told so well that it’s not hard to get in to at all. I definitely gave this one 4.5 out of 5 stars and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. Let me know if you plan on picking this book up on August 21st! Have you guys read anything else by Robert Jackson Bennett? This was my first book by him, but I definitely plan on checking out more of his work.