2018’s Foundryside is the first volume in Robert Jackson Bennett’s Founders series.
The Occidental Empire fell long ago, but a handful of relics remain. The people of Tevanne have used these relics to revive (partially) the practice of technomagical scriving. The merchant city now has a monopoly on scriving; it is the center of a new golden age of magic. The masses of the world toil endlessly to enrich a handful of wealthy merchant houses.
Sancia Grado was one of those plantation slaves. She has been used as a human test subject; she now has abilities she does not fully understand.
She has object empathy; she can handle a container and tell what is hidden inside. A fine skill for a thief (thieving is her new career). She has been offered a job that is unusually lucrative, which should be a warning sign that it’s dangerous. But she accepts the commission.