Cover Image: Shorefall


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I liked the first book in this series, but I could really not get into this second volume, unfortunately.

The magic system, which I really loved in the first book started feeling familiar and the story just wasn't it for me. We had the initial failure of stopping the Big Bad for manifesting and then, obviously, there was the McGuffin that would save us all, etc. It all seemed a bit trite and contrived and it failed to hold my interest.


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Mostly - I liked it, but I didn't love it as much as I loved the first. There was a lot of WTF in it, to me. (But there was also some delicious tropey Sancia/Berenice - also some bits that made me roll my eyes and think of the worst fanfic - as well as answers to a few questions raised by the end of the previous book.)

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Shorefall picks up three years after the end of Foundryside, and it starts just as Foundryside began: at the beginning of a heist. In this case, Sancia, Orso, Berenice, and Gregor want to steal scrivings from a powerful group and distribute those scrivings to others in Tevanne. Of course, this can't all happen without some problems along the way. During all of this, one of Sancia's foes has resurrected Crasedes, a hierophant who was scrived to the point that he essentially became a god. Now Sancia and her companions must stop Crasedes from destroying and remaking Tevanne.

I appreciated all of the commentary the author managed to include that easily applies to our world. More than anything else, I adored seeing Sancia and Berenice's relationship develop and grow. Another aspect of this book that I don't completely want to spoil is the way that characters are brought together and how they are able to empathize with one another.

Although the beginning was so explosive, I felt the story start to go flat toward the middle, only to pick up in the last 25% and end on a high note. This isn't unusual in trilogies, so I can't fault the book too much for that. Shorefall was overall enjoyable and I look forward to the final book.

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Fantastic follow up to foundryside. The characters and world building keep getting better. Can't wait for more from this series!

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This is very much a middle book. "Shorefall" is sort of a Mardi Gras or Carnivale like festival that happens every year just before the storms blow in. People dress up in costumes, drink a lot, have a lot of sex and revelry, and generally go by the "have fun today for tomorrow you may die" philosophy. There are parades too. It's just about Shorefall time.

I was interested to read what happened after the founding of the new merchant house Foundryside, but the book jumps about three years in time and the firm is fairly well established. Foundryside's leader, Orso, is going by the idea that information should be shared- for a price of either money or other information, in order to reduce power imbalances. Other small players can get access to Foundryside scrivings if they bring in an original scriving of their own. And he's still sticking it to the other merchant houses by committing industrial espionage even as he offers to sell them valuable magic workings.

All of this would have been interesting enough, but the true story is that Crasedes Magnus, the terrifying and ultimately powerful hierophant, is being brought back by Gregor Dandolo's mother. This brings Valeria, the being who helped Sansa in the last book, back into action as well.

Most of the book ends up being a race against the clock. Big and bad things are happening, and our heroes have very limited time in which to act to preserve themselves and their city. Because time is so tight, they end up making alliances out of necessity that might not be smart in the long run. And they must operate without knowing information that they need, which makes it easy for villains to jam their spokes with dramatic revelations.

This forced the book into a tight structure with smart characters doing things that they knew weren't possibly so smart after all, but with little choice in the matter. The book felt like it moved on tracks. I could predict when each revelation was about to arrive, and usually had a general idea of what that revelation would be or do. No real surprises, because the author had to have certain things happen in order to set up for the next book (cliffhanger, beware!).

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I am truly adoring this series! I'm having so much fun learning about these characters. This one was an emotional ride the whole way through. This series has such a fascinating magic system. I adore all of the characters and I'm so worried about what's going to happen to them next. I cannot wait for the release of book 3!

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Author Robert Jackson Bennett ( published the novel “Shorefall” in 2020. This is the second book in the author’s ‘Founders Trilogy’. Mr. Bennett has published nine novels.

I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence and mature language. The story is set in a world with magic. Magic is not manifested through incantations in this world. The magic comes through scrivers writing out complex commands. Much like programming reality. Sancia Grado has led an unusual life. Once a slave now she is a powerful scriver. Grado has a close group of allies. With their help, she is planning to take the power to run the city of Tevanne. No longer will the powerful families hold control.

They are on the way to success when the legendary Crasedes Magnus appears. He is one of the first hierophants. Thousands of years before he discovered how to write powerful scriving. He gave limited sentience to inanimate objects. This has become the basis for the magic that runs Tevanne. With his power, he now wants to remake humanity.

Grado and her comrades must overcome scriven magic and survive many dangerous encounters.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 16+ hours I spent reading this 493-page fantasy. You could read this as a stand-alone novel. It would be best though to read the first novel in the series (Foundryside) beforehand. The cover art is dark and simple, but I like it. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

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I still have to read Foundryside. I recently found a hardback cover as they are now rare. The magic is supposed to be amazing and a lot of people love this story.

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I love this series. I love Robert Jackson Bennett's books. Even at less than his best, he's still amazing! The above statements should give an idea of how I felt about this, the middle book of the Founders Trilogy.

It was great to catch up with the Foundryside crew, three years after the events of book one. I was a little worried that Sancia and Orso and all the rest wouldn't be fresh enough in my mind, but I needn't have been. They're still up to some high-jinks, but have settled down somewhat into a cohesive team with firm relationships and a shared civic-minded purpose -- about which we do not see nearly enough before the plot gets completely taken over by the fight against the supposed "Ultimate Big Bad" villain, Crasedes Magnus.

The magic system is still awesome, though at times a bit more handwavey than I've come to expect from RJB. The character voices are all different, so the multiple POVs never get confusing -- even when (minor spoiler) they are temporarily mind-melded with each other! The tone still moves with seeming, impressive effortlessness between LOL humor and devastating heartbreak, and it tries at sheer terror too -- but apart from the Ghost Ship scene near the beginning, terror is perhaps one of the ways in which it falters. For I just did not find the Big Bad as compelling as I'd like to have done. Crasedes seemed scarier in his absence in Book One than he does in the flesh, as it were, even though he's responsible for plenty of horrific acts here. He's just a little too cartoonish, which makes the plot stakes feel... not high, somehow? Other ostensible villains, namely Valeria and Ofelia, occupy greyer spaces, which makes them more interesting.

One quibble I had with the first book was that it was not clear how the merchant houses of Tevanne made money outside of Tevanne (which is ostensibly how the houses accumulated and retained wealth and power). This may or may not be directly related to the slave labor on "the islands," which remains a big part of Sancia's backstory. I was hoping that this stuff would be a focus in Book Two, and alas it was not, though based on the ending here, it appears "the islands" will be a focus in Book Three. I hope such focus is... actually the focus, and not tangential to continued fights against Crasedes and/or Valeria. Having cartoonish villains expound upon slavery as an inevitable human condition that can only be eradicated by enslaving all of humanity under an uberbeing, or barring humanity from its own progress, is just not as interesting as having humanity decide to eradicate slavery for itself, regardless of all the uberbeings' claims that this is simply not possible.
I mean, I'm a cynical person, but not a particular fan of Grimdark, and I don't necessarily need or want cartoonish villains in fantasy novels to support the idea of a cynical ultimate outcome for all mankind.

So, I didn't like this book quite as much as Book One. Yet still, I look forward to seeing where this trilogy goes next!

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This is such a compelling sequel that, in a lot of ways, blew the first book out of the water, And the first book already got 5 stars from me. We have the same compelling world and magic system, but with more characters working together to stop a terrifying villain. The writing, plot and character development is very on point in this book.

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4 / 5 ✪

In Foundryside, Sancia Grado and her ragtag team of allies managed to save the city of Tevanne from destruction, carving out a chunk of it for themselves in the meantime. Three years later, the Mountain lies in ruin and the campos feud with one another to fill the power vacuum left following its destruction.

I’ll be honest though. Don’t remember a ton of what happened in the first book. I remember Sancia—the master thief able to see scrivings—and I remember Clef—the talking key with the heart of gold (because he’s made of gold you see). There was something with one of the campos, a fire, infiltrating the Mountain and… that’s about it.

Anyway, skip ahead three years and you’ll find Sancia passing time within the scriving firm of Foundryside, intermittently stealing, innovating, and making out with her girlfriend, Berenice. None too soon after we rejoin Sancia, the Foundrysiders execute a bold play to steal from one of the campos in a desperate attempt to secure their future and the first step in their plan to liberate Tevanne from the grip of the merchant houses.

But no sooner do they return home in triumph—ready for a drink and a quick toss—then a new threat looms on the horizon. A new, and infinitely larger threat.

In a stunning move, the Dandolo campo has seen fit to resurrect Craesedes Magnus, First of the Hierophants, basically a god in all but name. And the legendary scriver is coming straight to Tevanne. While the Foundrysiders aren’t sure why the Dandolos have done this, or what exactly it is that the First Hierophant intends, they are sure that they don’t want to know anything about it. But instead of fleeing the city, they decide to stay and fight.

For while the Foundrysiders can’t match the legendary hierophant himself, they may know someone who can. Though to save their city Sancia and the gang may just have to tie themselves to an even greater threat than Craesedes Magnus—for what can stand up to a god but another god?

Straight out of the gate the story got rolling with a thrilling heist. It was great to see Sancia and the gang doing what they do best—stealing things and running away. And it gave us time to reconnect with the characters we might’ve somehow forgotten. Be it Orso, former campo child and the outfit’s brains; Bernice, the beautiful and genius scriver Sancia has fallen for; Gregor, strong and silent, another scrived human with blood staining his shadow; and Clef, pretty much just a key now. A key that won’t open any door.

From there we get on to the meat of the matter—resurrecting a god. Or attempting to stop one. Turns out, it’s not an easy thing to do. Through this part the atmosphere grows tense, the story mysterious, dark. Then everything kicks off for good when Craesedes Magnus rolls up.

I hate to say it, but my favorite character in Shorefall is probably the dark god himself. He certainly acts like an ancient immortal—someone who’s seen and done everything and lived through worse. But also there’s a hidden agenda to him. And his endgame turns out to be a twist I ddi not see coming, something truly surprising for something so close to invincible and powerful as he. Moreover, it’s his relationship with Sancia herself—also Gregor, and some of the others from the Dandolo campo—that makes his character so interesting. I won’t give any more about him away, but to say he’s a truly great character with a depth that profoundly surprised me.

I don’t have too many issues with Shorefall. Mostly it’s a lot of fun. A great read with a lovely world and interesting characters. But I do miss Clef. His banter with Sancia was one of the things that made Foundryside such a great read (and pretty much the only thing I remembered about the book prior to reading its successor). While Bennett does attempt to do a similar thing in Shorefall using some of the other characters, it just doesn’t have the same appeal that the Sancia-Clef relationship had. The dialogue here is more cumbersome, and more empty. While I never got sick of Clef and Sancia no matter what the pair were discussing, that doesn’t hold true for Sancia and pretty much anyone else.

The tale is more rollicking fun, but with a darker, more somber mood to it. The world is changing, and not necessarily for the better as all Foundrysiders hoped. With an awakened god looming on the horizon the team feels more powerless than ever before. It’s like the moment in Gears 2 where they use a gigantic rock worm to sink Jacinto, and fly away knowing that while they “won”, their one and only home now lies in ruin. Even when there is brightness and joy in Shorefall, there is also some sorrow.


With a darker, somber atmosphere, Shorefall is the predecessor that makes you feel, makes you care about the world of Tevanne. While it doesn’t have the same back-and-forth, carefree dialogue of the original, Shorefall takes you to a few more grey areas, a few more moments of weakness on its journey of hope and despair. It’s not exactly a dark book, but it does have its moments. It’s a tale of love and friendship, but also of half-truths and two evils. It’s half mad-dash, half atmospheric thriller, and half powder keg. See? This book gives you 150% and doesn’t disappoint—if that’s not a reason to read it I don’t know what is.

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First of all, I must say, I unabashedly love Robert Jackson Bennett's writing. I have only read two other books by him (Vigilance and Foundryside), but those books were both five stars for me and they solidly placed him on my favorite authors list. Though Vigilance was definitely my favorite of the two previous books of his that I read, I also really, really loved Foundryside - the first book in the Founders trilogy. Foundryside reminded me how much I actually do like fantasy novels - a feat that no other adult fantasy novel I've attempted to read has been able to do since :Lord of the Rings.

It has, admittedly, been a very long time since I read this sequel. I was fortunate to read a review copy of the book thanks to Netgalley and, given how much I loved Foundryside, I was *thrilled* to start the sequel early. Unfortunately, Shorefall didn't live up to my own expectations. That's not at all to say that this is a bad book - far from it. It was still extremely interesting, had lots of action, and managed to surprise the heck out of me with its ending. In the end, though, it just wasn't exactly what I was expecting and I left feeling a little let down. I will still 10000% continue on in this series, probably reread this book before the final book in the series, and I'll continue to pick up basically anything that Robert Jackson Bennett writes. Definitely pick up this series because it's an amazing world and Bennett's writing is fantastic - just maybe curb your expectations for this sequel.

Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced reader copy!

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I loved Bennett's other work and here we have more excellent storytelling from a master. This series has more of a YA feel, with younger characters, some light romance, and more punchy action. It's good in a different way and I love seeing an author branch out and succeed. The magic system is intriguing and the main character is relatable and capable in a way that so few female main characters are.

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I can't believe I waited months to finish this book. I had listened to almost half of it before putting it down and reading it again from the beginning only now.

I feel like I didn't love the first book as much as most people. I rated it 3 stars I think and yet when I started getting back into this world, I was so happy to see our crew again. Sancia, Berenice, Orso and Gregor. Our favorite key isn't present for most of the book and even though I missed it, it was alright. I found myself caring much more for Orso and Gregor in this sequel.

Overall, I'm excited to read the next book even though I teared up at the end of book two... (view spoiler) I'm curious to see how it will end and if it's possible to save one character or if they are lost forever (view spoiler)

(Thank you for letting me read and review an ARC via Netgalley)

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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

Continuing on a few years after the events of book one, Shorefall drops you right into the middle of things. I love it when a sequel does that. The group decides to make like Robin Hood (rob from the rich and give to the poor) and we start with a heist. I am a big fan of a complex theft, whether it goes well or ends up becoming jumbled.

It was a treat to return to Bennett’s awesome setting. The city of Tevanne is a mess, kind of like the real world. Unlike the real world, Tevanne has a rocking magic system called scriving. In essence, scriving is convincing an item that it is something it’s not, so that it functions in a way it wouldn’t normally. It’s the most technological magic I’ve ever read and it makes for an interesting world.

This book throws our ragtag group of not-really heroes against an extremely villainous villain named Crasedes. I truly loved him. There’s something fabulous about a bad guy who has a twisted reasoning that almost makes sense. That being said, this book is much darker than its predecessor. Expect higher stakes and an injury/death list that is quite hefty.

And that leads us into the parts I didn’t love. The banter that added bits of fun to Foundryside was lacking in Shorefall. While the darker tone of the book worked for the storyline, I really missed those dashes of humor. The character development was off the charts, though, which is where the book shone. I finished book one with a sense of awe at the world the author created; I had much the same reaction regarding character growth in this book. Just…wowza.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the pacing in this book, unfortunately. It alternated between slower moments and bursts of action. Normally, I enjoy that in a book, but for some reason it felt a little off here. I really can’t figure out why. From time to time, it would take me out of the plot and leave me less than engrossed.

Shorefall was a mixed bag for me. I truly liked it, but it stopped a bit short of Foundryside for me. However, it is still a well-written book in a truly fascinating world. There was much more to like than dislike and it left me wondering what would happen next.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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This book has all the makings of a great fantasy novel and series: strong character development, fantastic world building, a super evil villain, devastating conflict and (duh) magic. I really love the plot with so many twists and turns. The only thing that kind of got in the way of me giving this one 5 stars is that at times it got mired in explaining aspects of how scriving works or how the characters worked out a scriving-based plan. It oftentimes interrupted the flow. That being said though I really enjoyed this book and Foundryside and I look forward to reading the next one. Thank you to Del Rey and NetGalley for granting access to this book in exchange for an honest review. I will post this review tomorrow to my Bookstagram and companion Facebook page @thatreadingrealtor.

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4.5/5 STARS (rounded to 5)

In SHOREFALL, Robert Jackson Bennett invites us to return to Tevanne, the strange land of powerful foundries, magical scriving, talking keys, and old, terrifyingly powerful gods. After only the first few pages, I felt like I was back at home with my friends Sancia, Berenice, Orso, and Gregor, and my amazement at the sheer imagination of this world was sparked once again.

In this volume of the Founders Trilogy, a grave threat looms on the horizon, and it’s up to the Foundrysiders to stop it. We revisit familiar parts of Tevanne and are introduced to new places, people, and folklore (including a fascinating, spooky festival). We learn that almost everyone has secrets. We witness a lot of horrifying violence (some of which didn’t sit well with me), much more than we did in the previous installment. And we learn even more about the complicated magic of scriving, which I didn’t always follow but trusted completely. As long as this novel is, the pages sped by because I could not put it down, and because RJB is a master at tension and crafting fully realized characters.

I hate that I’ll have to wait so long for the third book; I practically just finished the first book before the second book came out. But you know I’ll do it, though. I’ll wait, and maybe reread FOUNDRYSIDE and SHOREFALL in the meantime.

Thanks to Del Rey and NetGalley for the ARC!

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Shorefall A Novel

By: Robert Jackson Bennett

Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine

Del Rey

Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Publish Date: April 21, 2020

#Shorefall #NetGalley

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This is the second book in a series. I just finished the first book at the beginning of the month. I gave that one 4 stars. This book I only gave 3 stars to. It was a slower read for me and I was confused most of the time while reading it. I did enjoy it but there was a lot going on and a whole bunch of plot twist that I got lost a lot. The story line was good and the ending was great leading you up to prepare for the next book.

The plot twist near the end kept you guessing on who was who and who was lying. You just didn't know who to believe.

I do like his writing and recommend that you read his books but for me this book was just confusing.

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this was a really unique scifi novel, I really enjoyed the characters and the world that was built. Overall I had a great time reading this and hope there is more in this universe.

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I'll be honest here, when I saw I approved for this ARC, I called my husband at work and started yelling about how I got the most anticipated read on my TBR through Netgalley. I was so excited and happy. Reality sank in and realized I'm in Med school-how would I ever find the time to read almost a 500 page book?
Well, when you are this stocked for a book-you found the time-any where I could-5 min before bed even. This book devoured me.

Picks up right where book one left off- Even though techniquelly it is set three years after the end of the first story, you instantly feel right back with the characters. I didn't think that Bennett could expand on the fantasy genre as much as he already had with the first book, but seriously, this book broke the mold.

The characters were fully fleshed out-even the key. The world-building again in this book puts the reader smack dab in the middle of the story, making the reader be able to smell the streets and the air. The plot was fast paced-yet emotional at times.

I never thought I would say this-but I love Shorefall more than Foundryside. Foundryside was a five star read for me last year, and Shorefall will be the same.

I'm hoping there is a third book somewhere in the future-as I loved this world and characters so much!

I want to thank Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Del Rey, Netgalley, and Bennett for the opportunity to read and review this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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