Full Fathom Five
A novel of the Craft Sequence
by Max Gladstone
Tor; $25.99, 382pp
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
In Kavekana, religion, economics, and law are all part of one social system; lawyers mediate between gods and mortals, overseeing contracts between people who sustain deities with prayers and worship, and deities who reward their devotees with protections and blessings. When gods default on their contractual obligations, they are put to death. But sometimes a lawyer forms an attachment, especially when the god in question was made-to-order and the lawyer was in on the design process, or if the lawyer is just too damn empathic for her own good.
Kai attempts to intervene in one such execution, and in one leap of faith goes from being a successful, respected professional-on-the-rise to a pariah. Soon she is discovering first-hand the ugliest aspects of religion, for hunger, torture, murder, and slavery are the daily lot of thousands of people who lack good legal representation.
Readers of Gladstone’s debut novel, Three Parts Dead, will be glad that Cat plays a role in this adventure as well. Ms. Kevarian puts in an appearance too, and there is an unexpected tie-in with Two Serpents Rise.
Max Gladstone is a fantastically talented writer. Descriptions range from visceral to sublime, the plot is tight, the characterizations distinctive, the epiphanies exquisitely wrought. Plus he’s funny, if you like your humor laced with acerb. For example: “By 1:00 AM [Kai’s] work was done: three chickens sacrificed, one each on altars of silver, iron, and stone; a stack of profit and loss statements dispatched by nightmare telegraph; a proposal drafted, suggesting an Iskari family shift their faith from the high-risk personal resurrection market to dependable grain-focused fertility” and “’The best stuff to steal is stuff the target can’t admit is gone.’” ~~ Chris R. Paige