Cover Image: Shorefall


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Member Reviews

I received this arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The book starts off right in the beginning of a daring mission and really doesn't slow down from there. It's hard to get in plot developments without really giving away elements of the book but all the same characters return with new twists and deadly enemies.
The pace of this book impressed me more than anything. I haven't seen anything like it this in Robert Jackson Bennett's novel since American Elsewhere.
This series is a definite departure from the City of Stairs novels but very worthy of any lover of intelligent fantasy time.

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This is sequel to Foundryside is action packed from the get-go! There's not much downtime to see how everyone's been doing in the past three years before sh!t hits the fan. For Sancia, Berenice, Gregor and Orso, it's all action and destruction, the two words to describe this fight against the first hierophant. There's little time for character growth, but we get to see revealed motives and twisty betrayals. This one didn't wow as much as the first, but I can't wait to read the third installment!

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And I thought Foundryside was a good book. Guaranteed to be on the Best Fantasy Books of 2020. It took everything I loved about the last book and then made it better. The author continues to show his excellence at world building, characters you truly care about, and unique magic systems. Yes, you have to read the previous book first and wow there is a cliffhanger at the end of this one. I don't want to say anymore to avoid spoilers. Put this on your must read list now!

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If Foundryside was Robert Jackson Bennett catching lightning in a bottle for his lucky readers, Shorefall is Bennett giving his readers a chance to study that captured lightning and take a closer look at what makes the world and characters of this series so great. The complex world-building is here, but with narrower and more focused looks at different systems and ideas that are driving the engines of magical technology and progress in Tevanne (and to some extent, the rest of the world). Hard questions are asked about sacrifice, human nature, and the justification of sacrifice in the name of progress and control, with unimaginably powerful forces at war with each other over how to resolve these questions that could have earth-shattering consequences if any of them succeed in their plans.

A truly excellent entry in an already fabulous series, and an easy recommend to readers of fantasy/urban fantasy who showed any interest in Foundryside.

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Robert Jackson Bennett has a talent for creating worlds that feel so different from anything else found in the genre today, places that have all the elements that fantasy and sci-fi readers love but so imaginative that it's utterly fresh. While the premise of the foundry side series basic magic is similar to what was in his City novels it feels like its grown up, evolved and become something greater. Sandia, Gregor, Berenice and Orso are growing and are beautiful portrayed. The arc in this novel is interesting and compelling, the shifting of battle lines, the questions of who is good, bad and gray constantly shifting with truly surprising results which is a feat in itself. The reader has to shift perspective from trying to figure out who the good and bad guys are to who is the lesser evil and the answers are never easy to figure out. The only negative to the entire book is that it has a last page, you'll find as a reader that this book will give you a sleepless night wondering how things will fall out in the sequel. Beautiful world building, startling twists, compelling and relatable characters roaming a world and playing with magics that feel fresh and new. I'd suggest this to everyone from people new to fantasy or science fiction all the way to people burned out on the classic tropes and magic systems.

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Prepare to have your mind blown to smithereens. Shorefall, the second book in Bennett's Founders series, takes the story and the ideas first posited in Foundryside and doesn't just build on them, but blasts those ideas to the stratosphere. This is a thrilling, engaging, exciting sequel that takes the reader on a strange journey through one of the most unique fantasy worlds ever created.

Tevanne is a city state in this world which is built on the sea and has numerous canals and mountains. It feels a bit like a medieval Venice, but it's not. Great merchant houses rule the city and off in the distant islands are great slave-operated plantations. There are sailing ships and merchant ships.

But, the most remarkable thing is the magical technology. Imagine how well carriages would work if the wheels wanted to turn or if arrows wanted to find their targets or gates wanted to stay closed unless someone with permissions opens them. Commands, like computer codes, are inscribed in gates, boats, lights, and walls, Buildings are strong because the walls want to stay together. This is the source of Tevanne's wealth and the civilization's advances.

And this technology was first discovered by the ancients, the Hierophants, who lived three thousand years ago and wielded powers beyond description. And now something from that past has been awakened from its slumber and it's coming. And, well, nothing will ever be the same.

Part of what makes this series work do well is that the main characters are not superheroes or leaders. Sancia is a tiny little dirty thief who just happens to be scrived, meaning she can hear the scrived doors and walls and gates talk and can argue with their commands. Together with a motley crew of Berenice, Orso, and Gregory, its up to Sancia to save the world. On the way, we learn so much about the scrivings and the permissions and what can be described ne to alter reality.

All in all, an absolutely awesome fantasy novel.

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