Published: April 21, 2020
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Series: Founders #2
Pages: 512 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The upstart firm Foundryside is struggling to make it. Orso Igancio and his star employee, former thief Sancia Grado, are accomplishing brilliant things with scriving, the magical art of encoding sentience into everyday objects, but it’s not enough. The massive merchant houses of Tevanne won’t tolerate competition, and they’re willing to do anything to crush Foundryside.
But even the merchant houses of Tevanne might have met their match. An immensely powerful and deadly entity has been resurrected in the shadows of Tevanne, one that’s not interested in wealth or trade routes: a hierophant, one of the ancient practitioners of scriving. And he has a great fascination for Foundryside, and its employees – especially Sancia.
Now Sancia and the rest of Foundryside must race to combat this new menace, which means understanding the origins of scriving itself – before the hierophant burns Tevanne to the ground.
OH MY JEEZ this book was possibly just as awesome as Foundryside! Robert Jackson Bennett really knows how to build a messed up world where you can lose yourself in the dark alleys, tenements, and the gutters below the gilded halls of the elite. I mean, that’s a little dramatic, but it’s not untrue! This second installment is essentially another episode of the wealthy merchant houses screwing up EVERYTHING and nearly destroying the city because they want more power. All the while, the freelancers who are trying to change the industry are trying to clean up the egregious mistakes of, in this case, Ofelia Dandolo.
This book starts out as a wild ride and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Basically, the lovely, somewhat larcenous (but good intentioned) crew at Foundryside are trying to swipe the contents of the entire lexicon at one of the major foundries. It’s brilliant and daring! Heists! But then THE FIRST OF ALL HIEROPHANTS, CRASEDES MAGNUS is about to be unleashed upon the world after centuries of being trapped in death. The book entirely shifts focus to trying to stop Ofelia Dandolo from bringing him back, and then (spoiler) trying to kill him again. It’s an intense read and you most definitely need to read Foundryside prior to even thinking about Shorefall.
Aside from the fantastic plot that kept me on the edge of my seat, have I ever mentioned how great the world building is? Well, let me just tell you, it’s incredible and decidedly Venetian (or perhaps Italian) in general in it’s inspiration. I can just visualize these ancient stone walls surrounding the wealth inside the campos where the great families run their merchant empires and hundreds in the street for parades reminiscent of those for Carnivale. The scent of hot metal and foundry smoke on the breeze, the cobbled streets… you get the picture. It’s exotic and bright, but not nearly so bright as the cast of characters.
I continue to admire Sancia Grado’s resilience and her love and friendship with Berenice, Gregor, Orso, and even Clef. Gregor is what I would call the secondary main character in this installment and it’s fascinating to see him struggle with the scrivings that both saved him and hold him thrall. Orso and Berenice play important roles, but you don’t get to see in their heads quite the same way as the reader does with Sancia and Gregor. That being said, I love them too and the whole crew is complimentary of one another, but defined and unique.
This was a fantabulous read and I didn’t want it to be over! This is intended to be a trilogy, so I at least have the comfort of knowing I get to read another book set in this world.