Three Parts Dead

I'm not exactly sure why it took me so long to give Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead a shot. I bought the digital edition a few years back when Patrick Rothfuss raved about the series. But even though I was keen to read it, for some reason something always got in the way. Couldn't bring a whole lot of reading material with me on my roadtrip around the Gaspésie peninsula, so it turned out to be the perfect opportunity to dive into some ebooks on my tablet.

As many readers have opined over the years, Three Parts Dead is unlike anything else I ever read. To a certain extent, that the best thing you can say about the novel. However, at times it's also its biggest shortcoming. Gladstone came up with a work that truly defies all labels.

Here's the blurb:

A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.

Set in a phenomenally built world in which justice is a collective force bestowed on a few, craftsmen fly on lightning bolts, and gargoyles can rule cities, Three Parts Dead introduces readers to an ethical landscape in which the line between right and wrong blurs.

As I mentioned, it's impossible to put Three Parts Dead in a nutshell. Yes, it is an urban fantasy book set in a fictional universe. But in style and format, it's more of a police procedural/courtroom drama/mystery novel than anything else. To put it simply, it's hip, fresh, and original. And yet, it was also sometimes difficult for me to get my bearings. Especially at the beginning, when few things make sense. It did get better as the plot moved forward, so trust the author for he knows what he's doing.

The worldbuilding was rich in details. The world and everything about it came alive in spectacular fashion. Max Gladstone's prose creates an imagery that can be quite arresting. This facet of Three Parts Dead was by far my favorite. Magic is known as the Craft and it has to do with harnessing soulstuff. Trouble is, à la Erikson, the author doesn't elaborate a whole lot on the Craft and how magic works. You do learn bits and pieces as the story progresses, mind you, but I wish we would have discovered more by the time I reached the last page.

The characterization is made up of the perspectives of a number of disparate protagonists. Two main characters take center stage, though. Abelard, chainsmoking Novice Technician of Holy Kos Everburning, is undergoing a crisis of faith now that his god is dead. Tara Abernathy is a new lawyer investigating the circumstances surrounding Kos' apparent murder. There are other POVs, the most interesting of the bunch being that of Elayne Kevarian, Tara's boss and savior.

Pacing can be a little off in certain portions of the tale, especially in the first couple of chapters. Three Parts Dead is never boring, but there are a few bumps here and there until Abelard and Tara manage to unveil the mystery regarding the god's death and things begin to make more sense. The deeper they dig, the more engrossing the story becomes.

Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead is unique. Featuring a clever plot set in an inventive and fully-realized world populated by genuine protagonists, it's a refreshing read to be sure. À la Malazan, the reader is dropped in the middle of a story and the author doesn't waste time spoon-feeding you information. In order to really appreciate such a novel, one has to be able to just buckle up and you'll be rewarded with something unlike anything you can find on the market today.

For any jaded speculative fiction readers out there, Gladstone's Craft Sequence could be just what the doctor ordered!

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

1 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Easily my favorite series since reading Erikson's Malazan. Highly recommended.