Reviews: Gladstone, Max

Like I Just Lost The World War

This is How You Lose The Time War — Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s 2019 This is How You Lose the Time War is a standalone SF novel.

Two great powers, technological Agency and biological Garden, are engaged in a long, brutal war for control of reality itself. Not satisfied with shaping a single universe to suit their tastes, both sides covet control of every history of every universe.

Red fights for Agency. Red is very good at their job. Good enough to attract the attention of Garden operative Blue.

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Marching As To War

Four Roads Cross — Max Gladstone
Craft Sequence, book 5

Four Roads Cross is the fifth book published in Max Gladstone’s Craft sequence. It is the fourth book by internal chronology.

Many in Alt Coulumb believe that Seril the Moon Goddess betrayed them when she left the city to fight and die in the God Wars. Seril has revived and returned, sans publicity. She helps her people where she can do so without revealing herself. The city’s priests know, but are still considering how best to handle Seril’s reappearance.

When Seril dispatches one of her gargoyles to save a woman from muggers, the victim turns out to be one of Alt Coulumb’s Criers, the local equivalent of a plucky reporter. Being saved from a brutal death is one thing, but a story is a story. The world will learn the goddess walks again.

Journalistic diligence may have doomed a city.

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Dresediel Lex Spring

Last First Snow — Max Gladstone
Craft Sequence, book 4

The thing to bear in mind about Gladstone’s Craft series is that while it has an internal order, that’s not the order in which Gladstone is publishing them. The titles suggest an internal chronology, but the title of 2015’s Last First Snow is a bit ambiguous on that point.

It is forty years after the God Wars, when craft-wielding mages overthrew the gods. The city of Dresediel Lex is a well-ordered oasis in the middle of a vast desert. It is a city freed from the superstitions of the past and from the oppression of chattel slavery, a vibrant community whose economy is growing quite nicely. At least that’s the point of view of the King in Red, the skeletal autocrat who runs the city. If you cannot trust your dictator, whom can you trust?

The one sore point in the King in Red’s otherwise satisfactory eldritch post-life

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Full Fathom Five: A Novel of the Craft Sequence

Max Gladstone
Craft Sequence, book 3

If the cover still has an Elizabeth Bear blurb on it 0, that’s a plausible choice on Tor’s part but the blurb that they actually went with was “The best yet from Max Gladstone.” – Charles Stross1.

Alt Coulomb remained loyal to their surviving god. Dresediel Lex massacred their gods and replaced them with Undying Kings. The tropical island nation of Kavekana chose a third option, replacing their dead gods with what amount to artificial deities, human-crafted idols used as center-pieces in mystical investment schemes. Until now, that compromise has seemingly worked well.

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Two Serpents Rise: A Novel of the Craft Sequence

Max Gladstone
Craft Sequence, book 2

In the follow-up to Three Parts Dead, Gladstone introduces a new cast, as well as a new setting. Unlike Alt Coulomb, the city-state of Dresediel Lex crushed its bloody gods entirely; roles that were fulfilled by the gods now fall to humans and the Craftsmen and Craftswomen of the city. If the humans fumble the ball, the entire city will suffer.

Dresediel Lex is an artificial, fragile oasis in a vast desert; ensuring the water supply is even more central to it than it is to other cities. Red King Consolidated manages the water supply and until now has done an acceptable job of meeting the city’s ever expanding needs. Until now…

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Three Parts Dead: A Novel of the Craft Sequence

Max Gladstone
Craft Sequence, book 1

I am very annoyed at the people who have been selecting my reading material for the last 13 years for not having ever sent me a Max Gladstone book and with Gladstone for not having more books in print now that I have discovered them.

Decades ago, the Gods declared war on the human Craftsmen and Craftswomen. The Gods lost, decisively. The Great Powers are for the most part the nations run by and for the interests of the Craftsfolk; this has certain implications0 that are developed over the series.

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