BINGO – CITYSCAPE
Sancia a thief and a damn good one. She gets hired in the city-state of Tevanne to do the jobs that no one else will be able to get done because Sancia isn’t just any average thief. Sancia is able to put her skin onto any other thing and know it. If she’s touching a wall, she knows where all the footholds are; if she’s touching the floor, she knows what and who are currently on the floor; if she’s touching water, she knows where it has flowed recently and what it carried. Sancia is able to do all of this because she has been scrived. Scriving is the process of using sigils to convince an object to break reality in specific ways. (I’m leaving out examples of how this works because part of the fun of Foundryside is discovering all the various creative ways that scriving gets used.) Sancia was content to do enough jobs to get by but in the latest job, she uncovers that some of Tevanne’s most powerful citizens are attempting to take scriving to a terrifying new level and establish themselves as leaders of a new world. Sancia, with the help of some unlikely allies, sets out to put a stop to the city’s most powerful attaining more power.
One of the best aspects of Foundryside is the magic system that Bennett has created. There are rules and boundaries to the system, but Bennett’s characters seem to take those rules as suggestions at best. Bennett bends and folds the rules but never outright breaks them. Though there are increasingly unique and creative uses of scriving throughout Foundryside, at no point does any new creation or device feel like a deus ex machina. Each new discovery, for me, was followed by a “Ooohh, clever!” rather than a “Ugh, give me a break!” which speaks to the consistency of the scriving system.
Bennett has also written some wonderful characters to fill in Tevanne. Let’s start with Sancia. She’s wracked with the trauma of her early life, and her abilities to know objects cause her physical discomfort, and if she’s using them long enough, immense pain. She’s a loner by choice and necessity, but she cannot handle the situation she finds herself in alone. Sancia is forced to make allies, to open up, to trust people. Bennett takes his time with this with a big emotional pay off at the end. Gregor Dandolo is another marvelous character. He is the son of a leader of a merchant house in Tevanne. He is definitely in the top ten most powerful people in the city who could live in complete blissful luxury, yet he scorns all it for justice. He holds a deep conviction for what is good and right and true, and he will do whatever it takes to protect those things. Yet life cannot be so black and white; life demands grey area, and Gregor is at odds with that necessity. This tension between Gregor’s almost naïve convictions and the situations he finds himself in cause Gregor’s own development over the course of the novel. Again, Bennett paces things out perfectly.
I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of this series.