I had only been hearing amazing things about this newest release from Robert Jackson Bennett, and since I’m such a fantasy-lover, I knew I had to try it.. And yes, the hype is real. It did take me a little time to get through this book but Foundryside (Founders, #1) was totally worth it.
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.
I really enjoyed how this story mixed Italian influences within the world-building. I always appreciate when fantasy worlds are drawn from the real world and inspired by different regions. However, I will say that the background information provided wasn’t as in-depth as I would have liked. The information we were provided early on didn’t really explain enough and left me a bit confused. This was somewhat fixed the more the story progressed, but I still feel like there is room to improve in that area.
However, the plot was extremely engaging and fast-paced. You are immediately thrown into action from the very first page and it doesn’t ever seem to let up through to the end. I never felt myself grow bored while I was reading it and that is always something to be happy about when it comes to a story. This was probably helped by the fact that the story jumps around to different viewpoints to follow along all of the different storylines, which keeps you on your toes. I will say that the only time that I felt the story lagged a bit was in the beginning due to the lack of knowledge about the world so I was having to reread passages to fully grasp what was going on.
As for the characters, this book has quite the cast of rotating characters including the main heroine, Sancia. Sancia is your typical independent thief and carries some scars from her childhood – both figuratively and literally. I really enjoyed her bluntness and sarcasm (which is so typically me, haha!), but I most loved her relationship with Gregor. Gregor Dandolo is the gruff moral compass of the group. He’s been a war hero and has returned home to Tevanne to set it right and bring justice to everyone equally. I loved how him and Sancia start off really rocky and constantly bickering, but then their relationship develops into almost a father-daughter type. I think they played off of each other really well. Then of course there’s Orso Ignacio, this rude but hilarious eccentric scriver, and his assistant Berenice. There is also another extremely important character but I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so he shall remain unnamed. 😉
All in all this was a really enjoyable read. I loved the unique concept of the magic system revolving around scriving. I also enjoyed all of the different characters and how the story bounced around between them all to help give you a full picture of all of the different moving parts. As I previously mentioned, the only issue I had with the story was the complicated and vague world-building that you start out with. Some questions I had were answered as the story moved along and we learn more about the world’s past, however, I do feel there is room to improve and expand upon this in future books. I definitely plan to continue on with the series. I can’t find wait to find out what will happen next to Sancia and the rest of the gang!
Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars
Have you read Foundryside? If so, what did you think about it? Were you confused about the world-building as well? Which character was your favorite?