Rating 5/5 – I just finish Foundryside, by Robert Jackson Bennett It’s the first book in the new Founders Trilogy and I absolutely loved every inch of this book. Fantasy, as pretty much all genres, is tough. There are a set of very specific tropes you have to follow leading many to begin to read the same. One of those tropes (or rules) is there has to be tangible magic happening, there has to be a world the uses the magic like we use tools and appliances. What we have is an original magic-based system that has its own set of rules for how it works. We also have five of the best main characters I’ve seen since reading “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.” by Becky Chambers. Robert Jackson Bennett gets higher marks for making the protagonist one of the best main characters, ever.
Sancia Grado ROCKS. She has one hell of a back story, without going deep in to “defining by sexual assault” too many writers seem to make every female character have. (When I said the rule can be bent, there is no rule that says every tough as nails woman has to be a sexual assault survivor. It needs to stop, seriously.) She has a tragic backstory steeped in the world’s history, politics and rules set up by prose And where she goes from the beginning to the end is a journey worth reading the book for alone. This book moves along with a crisp pace and the info dumps are well placed. This is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. That could change, but I highly doubt it.
One of the main things that make this character ROCK is she takes decisive action.
Foundryside The Characters
The setting for Foundryside is a country with no politicians. Everything in the world is run by Merchant Houses. Think a country where the corporations ran things and had rules with severe punishments in replace of law and order or governments. Aside from Sancia, we have Gregor the son of one of the Merchant House founders intent to bringing that law and order to this region. He’s pretty much the only one who wants this. Then there’s you foul-mouth older magic user Orso and his extremely talented assistant Berenice. All of them are on separate ends of the plot in the beginning then drawn together first by working connections. Then they band together just to stay alive. And they work together so well I’m hoping in the next volume Robert Jackson Bennet brings back the whole band.
Foundryside Politics and Magic System
Even if you’re using the well-known “wave hands and stuff appears” magic system, if it does not connect with the world of the book it won’t work. How the magic works, it’s limitations, it’s strength and weakness all get the “show, don’t just tell” treatment. In this case, Robert Jackson Bennet gives a new magic system unlike you’ve seen since Bibliomancer.
Foundryside flowed smoothly to its inevitable big finish. Robert Jackson Bennett adds something new that came with a good story and strong characters. The magic of Foundryside has a rich history reaching back to its past. We find out how the magic-system shaped this world. After setting things up while moving the story forward, Bennet brings us to not only one awesome conclusion. Get ready to make this book a top five of the year.
One of the best things about the internet is our ability to find really awesome stuff by really talented artists. Foundryside is an example of the cream rising to the top in terms of epic fantasies. Trust me when I say this first step into the Foundryside trilogy has all the earmarks of epic. Because you’ll love the plot, the character and the voice of the book. If you’re looking for something unique in your epic fantasy, this is the book you’re looking for. Yeah, Foundryside is really that good.