A Novel

Book - 2018
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Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne's docks, is nothing her unique abilities can't handle. But unbeknownst to her, Sancia's been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic--the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience--have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact's secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims. Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there's nobody with the power to stop them. To have a chance at surviving--and at stopping the deadly transformation that's under way--Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact's power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.
Publisher: New York : Crown, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781524760366
Branch Call Number: SCI-FIC BENNETT 2018
Characteristics: 503 pages ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

A thief in a city controlled by industrialized magic joins forces with a rare honest police officer to stop an ancient evil ritual that endangers thousands of lives.

A thief in a city controlled by industrialized magic joins forces with a rare honest police officer to stop an ancient evil ritual that endangers thousands of lives.

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Nov 25, 2019

I thought I might not like Foundryside at first. The semi-magical world of rich vs poor felt clichéd and the characters were not very sympathetic. Also, the protagonist makes a predictable but fairly silly decision early on, and I dislike stories that make you wait for the characters’ bad choices to catch up with them. But I’d liked the author’s previous Divine Cities series and so stuck with Foundryside. And I liked it more the further along I was. The characters become more likable and the pace of the story picks up. I hadn’t known this was intended to be the first of a trilogy when I checked it out, but now I’m looking forward to more. Like the volumes of Divine Cities, this author's previous trilogy, this book resolves its plot rather than forcing the reader to wait for the next installment to see how the tale ends.

Oct 04, 2019

What a thoroughly crafted world and magic system. This is one of those rare occasions where you can tell the author actually sat down and thought out every facet of his sigil system- all the rules, how they applied to the world and each other. Bennett's writing is truly atmospheric- I felt myself completely drawn in to the steampunk-esque world of Tevanne- the rich, clean, artistic Campos, and the dirty, lawless, dark Commons. Sanchia's point of view seemed rather formulaic and familiar- a "special girl with magic skills", with a drop of virgin innocence thrown in. I found myself ho-humming past her parts, and really becoming invested in Gregor's story. He was fabulously layered- a man who is trying to find his purpose beyond his rich family, holding a job, and seeking revenge for Sanchia's intrusion, theft, and destruction. They become an unlikely pair, where Gregor softens and eventually, finds out who he really is. Throw in the bedraggled, wizened sigil master and his beautiful young assistant, and a few Campo family rulers who want to take over the world, and you've got yourself a rather interesting story.
However, I felt the story did meander quite often, and dragged in parts, to the point where I was wondering if I wanted to finish the book. There's a lot going on, but it moves very slowly. There is a lot of information to impart on the reader so they will understand the ending, so I get that too, so perhaps it is the author's delivery. Either way, I'm intrigued to see what happens next, and maybe I'll pick up the sequel on audiobook.

Tigard_LindsayD Apr 12, 2019

In a rough-and-tumble fantasy world, thief Sancia has a strange advantage – she can talk to objects, sort of. But objects haven't ever really talked back, until she’s sent to steal a key. Calling itself Clef, the key claims it can open any door – which is cool, but this unheard of power sends the merchant houses in hot pursuit. And the merchants have access to oodles of scrived objects – objects that are convinced to bend the rules of physics. (For example, in place of cars, this world has carts that believe they’re on an incline plane.) The first of a new series, this fast-paced heist book will appeal to fans of well-built worlds, characters with a strong sense of self, and rules-based magic systems. Heads up: Some gore and a brief sex scene.

forbesrachel Mar 26, 2019

Take Bennett's ability to create an intriguing cast, and city setting, and add a Sanderson type magic system, with objects that talk, and you have Foundryside, the first in a fast-paced, exciting series told from the point of view of several key individuals. The primary lead is Sancia Grado, a thief with the unusual ability to sense the inner "thoughts" of everything she touches. This has its benefits for her trade, but is overall an inconvenience that causes her discomfort and even pain, and she would rather not have it. This desire leads her to take a job with more risks than usual, and what she finds at the end of it, will have repercussions for her entire world. Along the way, Sancia gets involved with other characters like Captain Dandolo, who have equally well-established motivations, mysterious "objects" from a time long past, like Clef, and the political scheming of the merchant houses which will do anything to maintain their power within the city. Bennett's colloquial dialogue helps to keep the pace crisp, and the characters grounded. While, on the other hand, the speech of the scrived objects is often lyrical, and quite amusing. There is quite a bit of exposition, but it is usually blended in fairly naturally, and does lay important groundwork for things that come later. The second book is definitely one to be eagerly awaited, for while one problem has been solved, it is already clear that a whole bucket load of new ones await the cast in the next. Sancia and the others have already grown quite a bit, but the question of how they develop from here on out, is just as much of a draw

ReadingAdviser_leni Feb 21, 2019

An impressive fantasy. I loved the characters and the description of the setting. I originally picked this one up because I loved the cover, but the story inside more than lived up to it. Also adored the strong female character! The description of the city made it come to life, and I could almost feel how gritty it was.

PimaLib_ChristineR Jan 26, 2019

I couldn't put this down. When my favorite character is a key, you know that the author has done some serious character development. There's no such stock character. I never thought, "oh, that key sounds exactly like I expected a key to sound." Besides the humourous and irreverent Clef the Key, the Sciver Orso was a close second. Orso is brilliant, funny, and rude. These played off well against the more serious characters of Sancia and Gregor and the straight man (woman), Berenice, who remains unruffled through everything.

Foundryside has political intrigue, exciting fight sequences (with at least a few people exploding all over, so if you're weak of stomach you may not want to eat right before reading this), and an amazingly developed magic/technology system. There's a sweetly developing LGBTQ+ romance that is rolled naturally into the story without overtaking it. Basically, Bennett has hit all the right notes.

I recently watched a video complaining that it felt like all YA heroines felt like they had to succeed as men. Meaning that many of the strong YA female leads excel in traditionally male pursuits such as swordplay, and feats of physical strength. While Sancia does not exactly break out of this mold (she's able to climb and jump more easily than anyone, and she doesn't mind shiving someone if needed), but we have several characters here who are women who are succeeding not with physical might, but patience, business acumen and sheer bloody-mindedness. Some are good and some are bad, but all of them are interesting.

Cracks in the Foundryside foundation: "Harpering" is a favorite curse, coming from the method of "public torture and execution" that involves having your head or other limbs garroted off with a wire...except there's no public law, so how is this enforced and by whom?

Scriving on objects allows them to bend reality and physical laws, but at one point Bennett writes that, "...when pressed to develop an armament with a longer range, the scrivers had simply upped the distance. A Lot. They'd developed a projectile that, when released from its caster, did not simply believe it'd been falling for a few thousand feet, but rather that it'd been plummeting toward the earth for thousand and thousands of miles." Since they seem to be living with the same physics we do, it made me wonder if Bennett has ever heard of terminal velocity...

The opening was not promising. I know that Bennett wanted to toss us into Sancia's world, but it felt like an A-Team expedition. But then there are another 475 pages or so that make up for it, so don't be dissuaded by the beginning of the story.

Phil_R Nov 17, 2018

Could even give it 6 stars. The dialogue almost gets corny at times, but isn't that what makes these fantasy adventures so fun to read?! Like 'The Grey Bastards' or Schwab's 'Darker Shades' trilogy. The movie version just unrolls as the pages turn, but no screen is ever going to capture anything close to how this comes to life as a novel.

alburke47 Oct 13, 2018

Sancia Gadro is Foundryside’s finest thief, but being the best comes at a cost. Sancia has magic powers, powers that elevate her above her rivals. She has a form of magic, both a blessing and a curse, that enables her to understand her surroundings, such as finding the weaknesses in walls. On the other hand, contact with anything gives her a wave of sensations that can drive her insane. As such, she must remain covered, avoiding unnecessary contact with, well, anything, leading her to a lonely life.

Sanica has few friends, all people who help her with her tools of the trade, but are sympathetic to her plight nonetheless. When Sark, her fence and closest <i>confidante</i> sends her on a job that could free her from the poverty and constant fear of living in Foundryside, Sanica jumps at the chance, despite her good sense telling her not to. One daring waterside heist later, and Sancia is in possession of the item in question. She then breaks one of her primary rules - she opens the box, finding a key inside. Not just any key, but a key that opens any lock and can communicate with Sancia. Our erstwhile thief knows she has stumbled onto (more) dangerous ground, and her sheltered existence is suddenly torn asunder.

Right, that covers about the first twenty pages of this 500 or so page book. The world the author has created is fascinating - think of a steampunk version of The Matix - and you’re still not close. The system of magic is somewhat like an Industrial Revolution type of computer, where “coders” (scrivers) have discovered an ancient language that can cause objects to subvert their reality, thus creating the likes of doors that require a special key to unlock, carriages that run without horses and weapons that increase power and speed and so forth. Finding ways to change reality is the job of said scrivers, who are constantly trying to one-up each other.

The city of Trevanne, of which Foundryside is the slum, is run by four merchant houses (think corporations), who employ these scrivers with the intention of increasing their own power. They have some rules about scriving, but rules are made to be broken. The merchant houses endeavour to unlock another language, that of their ancestors, the Hierophants, who had become gods, at least according to legend. They seek artifacts, of which Sancia’s key (Clef, geddit?) is one such, which can help them unlock these godlike powers. Sancia’s theft of the key drops her right into the middle of a cold war that has ruled Trevanne for years.

The characters are great. Sancia is as rough and tumble as they come, but not only do we feel sympathy for her plight, but we root for her throughout, and she is charming in her own “fresh” way. Gregor is a former war hero who keeps the rest of the group on the level, and tries to maintain the moral high ground, despite being next in line to one of the merchant houses’ thrones. The scrivers Orso and Bernice, who work for Gregor’s family, are out of their league when it comes to action, but they provide some fun toys a la Q from James Bond). All four are eminently likeable, and we want them all to succeed. Even the bad guys are fun, and even the Big Baddie (perhaps) posts a sympathetic figure.

So far, I’ve scratched the tip of the iceberg that is Foundryside. Despite being lengthy, the plot rattles along at a fast pace, with very little wasteful exposition or McGuffins. The action is plentiful and fun, and the dialogue is fast and peppered with wit. What more can I say about this novel? The talking objects are hilarious, and how they achieve their purpose is often bonkers. There is a lot going on here, lots of backstory and issues being tinkered with that makes the sum of Foundryside’s parts a very complete whole. Read, and enjoy.

JCLGreggW Jun 25, 2018

In a city of industrialized magic owned by powerful merchant houses, a street thief (and former slave) is tasked to steal an artifact of surprising power that unlocks her own potential and is the key to reclaiming ancient, lost magic. A steady, immersive, masterful build of a novel.


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Oct 04, 2019

RebelBelle13 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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