Book Review: Three Parts Dead

Originally published: October 2, 2012

Author: Max Gladstone

Series: The Craft Sequence

Publisher: Tor Books

I smiled when I read this book a while ago. Many times, in fact. Thank you, Mr. Gladstone.

This was my first time to read any of Mr. Gladstone’s work. The good reviews on Goodreads tempted me, so I picked up what was supposed to be the first of the series. My understanding now is that there’s some sort of a special sequence to read the books, with this one being the third if I remember correctly, but I didn’t feel that way when I read it.

This book is actually a very good example of what fantasy can do. If you told someone fifty years ago that you read a novel that mixes a law firm with powerful beings with steampunk, you would be getting the weirdest looks ever. But today, we have such a book, and believe it or not, it is actually a very nice read.

We follow Tara, an intern in a necromantic law firm, who’s supposed to find the murderer of her powerful client, lest the whole city falls apart. I’ll keep it right here to avoid spoilers.

What I liked most — of course, and I am sure many will agree — is the protagonist herself; a real, breathing person. She is a woman who is smart and strong without being just a female acting like a male. She is a person of color who is presented subtly and cleverly. A lot of stereotypes are broken, in a very effective way. Excellent job by the author.

I really like the Craft system. It was a very cool idea, and I think that a lot of the book really stands on the shoulders of that concept.

What I feel could have been a bit better, was knowing more about the limitations of this system. The whole thing felt a little “invincible”. Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps learning about the flaws of the Craft would have raised the stakes and generated even more tension in the storyline.

Verdict? An excellent read by a very smart author with a unique voice. Definitely a recommendation.

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