Sunday, January 10, 2016

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone is the first book in The Craft Sequence series published by Tor. Three Parts Dead finds a way to forge new ground in the urban fantasy genre by creating a new world with familiar characters and themes. The end result is the rare book that managed to feel unique and original.

The Craft Sequence takes places in a fictional world not long after a ruinous war between the Gods, real and knowable, and humans who had usurped their power. Three Parts Dead explores the complex relationships that build in such an environment. The Gods bind their followers to them through love and faith. The Crafters works through contracts, i.e. law.

It is this conceit of law that gives the story its legs. Law is after all, all about relationships and the ties that bind people - and entities - together. Crafters, being magical lawyers, are focused on managing those relationships. Every character introduced into the novel is tied into an increasingly complex web of loyalties and obligations. Finally understanding that complex web is the story’s satisfying payoff.

As enjoyable as the interaction between the characters is in Three Parts Dead are, it was really the thematic elements that provide its heart. In particular, the need for companionship ultimately ties all of the characters together and drives their motives. The Crafters, as they evolve into something more than human, still feel the need for companionship. Worshippers desire the warmth and companionship their Gods provide. Even the Gods themselves require love and affection.

Once you realize this, it makes the novel’s villain that much more enjoyable. Out of all of the characters driven to companionship, one character seeks to be alone and to dominate all those around them. Any relationships this character seeks are one-sided. The ultimate goal is to shed their humanity and move beyond such mundane things.

This focus on relationships allows Three Parts Dead to transcend the typical tropes of urban fantasy. Exploring how all things need the gentle warmth of companionship gives Dead such an earnest and heartfelt quality that is often missing from novels -- especially novels that focus on undying love or similar heavy fare.

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone is an easy recommendation. There is a lot of enjoy in this well crafted debut novel. The intriguing new world and focus on the ties that bind create a captivating read.

Tor Books: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
Image Source: MacMillan
Review Copy: Self Purchased
ISBN: 9781466802032

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