‘Full Fathom Five’ Book Review

Mount Readmore Book Review, 2017 68/100


Full Fathom Five By Max Gladstone

eBook edition

Finished on 7/14/2017


Description: The third novel set in the addictive and compelling fantasy world of Three Parts Dead.

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.

Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Fiduciary Fantasy, LGBT, Thriller

When Souls are money and Gods are bank accounts, the Island of Kavekana is the Switzerland of illegal banking. Come for the blood sacrifice and investment banking, but stay for coconut drinks!

Spoiler-tastic review

The Craft Sequence are weird books, but simultaneously amazing. The world around Kavekana is changing- gods are dying and elder warlocks are taking over the world and making empires. But Kavekana, a powerless nation, remains independent because it’s the tax-free banking capitol of the world. When everyone gives you their money, everyone wants you to remain independent. Money is souls and gods are bank accounts, and the priests of Kavekana make gods up to order for offshore investors. Priest Kai is the rising star Idoloter, a priest who makes idols.

But the balance of power is changing. When one of Kai’s idols dies after the investors makes a bad investments, Kai hears the idol begging before it’s death. This is impossible: the idol-gods should be brainless. Kai is accused of going insane, and fired from her prestigious banking job. Thus begins the thriller plot.

The characters in this book are okay. Kai is a transgender (male to female) priest who starts the book as up-tight as the rest of the priesthood, and ends the book with a few scars and a lot of wisdom. Izza is a street-urchin priest, who begins the book almost too paranoid but ends the book trusting. I’ll be blunt, none of the characters were particularly memorable. They had decent character arcs (which is more than I can say for many books) but not awesome enough to make my top 50 list of best characters.

The setting was excellent. It’s not every day you read a banking-fantasy-thriller. It sounds boring when written out, but the story involves sorcery, and torture-police-golems, and illegal gods and prophesy. I love, love, love this setting!

The plot, on the other hand, was somewhat generic. If you file off the setting (get rid of the gods, and torture golems and the like) this book becomes a thriller plot about white collar crime. If you realize that first thing, the plot’s intrigue falls apart. The bad guy is obviously the bad guy from page 1. The twists are twists you’d expect to see in a thriller. Basically this book could have used a red herring or two and I would be a good bit more happy.

Finally the texture of the author’s voice is fantastic. I’m using a lot of superlatives to describe this book, and for that I apologize, but in this case I must. If you’re interested, please start with ‘Three Parts Dead,’ a book which is nearly as good as this one.

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