I feel like Robert Jackson Bennett has a good storyteller’s head on him. I like the way he took the already awesome events of the first book and expanded on them, not just in scope (terrifying bad guy!) but in theme and character as well. This book absolutely 1000% avoids middle-book-in-a-trilogy syndrome. Stuff was happening 20-30% of the way through that you’d expect to happen at the end of a book.
Sancia, Gregor, Bernice, and Orso are still together as a little band three years after the events of the first book. They’ve formed their own foundry, called Foundryside, and plan to essentially socialize scriving, by bringing it back to the people and taking away the full ability of the campos to monopolize its power. They are doing this through legal means, like creating a scriving library, but also illegal ones, like heisting all the scriving definitions at once from one of the campos. But before they can enact their redistribution plans, everything goes to hell.
I read this very fast and enjoyed myself the whole way through. It was so well put together, and the characters so easy to root for, it didn’t even matter that I didn’t remember the first book super well going in. I was going to re-read books one and two before three comes out in 2022, but I don’t think I have to.
I almost didn’t give this the fifth star because I was so discombobulated by the ending, but writing this review, I’ve realized it deserves it. Can’t wait for Locklands, and I’m also going to dig into his Divine Cities trilogy next year. It will be a pure pleasure to eventually re-read all three in a row.