Published: June 28, 2022
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Series: The Founders Trilogy #3
Pages: 560 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 2.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.
This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.
To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.
Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.
And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.
June was *the* month for anticipated fantasy sequels and rounding out my reading selection was Locklands, the finale of the Founders Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett. I fell in love with Foundryside and the unique magical coding that was used to power all sorts of things from the mundane to the exquisite. Shorefall was an upping of the stakes and I rated it at 4.5 stars thanks to the amazing characters and worldbuilding. Unfortunately, as you can see by my rating of Locklands, I found the grand finale to be somewhat of a disappointment and here’s why.
First of all, while I don’t mind a time skip when more of the same ol’ thing is going on, I DO mind one when it leaves me feeling like I’ve started a whole new series. Locklands has an eight year time skip and dumps you right in the action, surrounded by new characters, loads of new technology, and one hell of crisis. It was jarring and it got info-dumpy when it came to so many of the new terms, technology, characters, and even the new “country” Gizeh. So, right from the start I was put off, but the war against Tevanne (Gregor/Valeria combo) was interesting and it was easy to chug along despite my annoyance.
I found I didn’t connect with the new characters well – Delia was given the bare bones of a backstory and Greeter and Design, the hivemind characters, were fascinating in concept but I never acquired that emotional connection. It’s hard not to love Sancia, Berenice, and Clef though so that certainly redeemed things. Clef in particular was given his chance to shine in this installment and we get a great deal of his ancient past, long before he became the key. Long before there were hierophants, there were Namers who saw the sigils that make up the world and the dwelt in an ancient city. Clef, or Claviedes as he was known then, was one such Namer though the tale that led him to his current state is one of tragic proportions. I did get a little teary eyed during the latter portion of the book thanks to some rather touching/heartbreaking moments.
I ended up being satisfied with the conclusion of the trilogy, but found myself disappointed overall by Locklands. It was a jarring change of pace and I’m of the opinion a short novella (Founders Trilogy 2.5, if you will) would have been the perfect transitional piece to ease readers into the harsh new world in Locklands. For those interested in picking this up, please don’t let me scare you away from the series or this book in particular – I seem to be in the minority, as many other reviews are quite positive and it’s sitting at 4.12 stars on Goodreads!