Book Recommendation

Last night I was wired after the event at the Cocteau Theater where we launched Victor Milan’s new novel, The Dinosaur Lords so I stayed up way to late reading.  What kept me up until 2:00 a.m.?  Another great book by my friend Max Gladstone.  Last First Snow is the fourth book in his amazing Craft series.

They are fantasy, but fantasy with an urban setting and ethnic and cultural diversity that is refreshing.  For me their real strength is Max’s ability to take law and business, contracts and court hearings and turn them into magic.

One of my biggest objections to most fantasy novels, actually to most science fiction novels as well, is that they don’t explain to me how a given society works.  And how societies work revolves around money and commerce and the legal system that makes those things possible.

The magic in this world is truly bizarre and the practice of the craft takes a toll on human bodies.  In fact one of the major characters (and one of my favorites) is The King in Red who used to be a normal human, but he’s now he’s a skeleton who walks and talks and jokes and wheels and deals and rules the city of Dresediel Lex.

One of the other interesting choices that Max makes is that gods are real.  They are powered by the belief of the faithful, but ritual, by contracts.  Gods can die and in fact the world was riven by a god war several decades before these stories began but it was a war won by humans.

One of the things that started the war was the fact that Dresediel Lex practiced human sacrifice to their gods, but the spark wasn’t outrage in a general sense, but one man’s fury over the loss of his love.  I think that kind of application of the small and personal to the grand and mythic makes for great story telling.

The King in Red had a particular speech in Last First Snow that I loved so much that I’m going to take the liberty of reproducing part of it here.  I have a feeling Richard from my Edge books and the King in Red would have some interesting conversations though the King is far more prone to the use of violence as a means of conflict resolution than Richard.  Anyway, here is part of the speech.

“I dislike the faithful’s smug superiority.  Their assumption that gods will protect them.  They strangled human progress for three millennia, sent millions to their deaths in dumb wars back by dumb theology.  They killed the only man I’ve every loved….”

Bottom line.  These books are unique and well worth reading.  You’re going to learn a lot about the dangers of off shore banking, and the California water wars, and how an underfunded contract can rock an entire economy, and you won’t be a bit bored with these dry economic issues.

Here are the titles of all four books in the series.  Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, Full Fathom Five, Last First Snow.

One Response to Book Recommendation

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