Publishing Info: April 21, 2020 by Penguin Random House, Del Rey Books
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: April 15, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
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.
I picked up FOUNDRYSIDE on a whim in 2018 when I saw it as an ARC at ALA and it was sort of like a new discovery for me. No one I knew had read it and thieves! cons! banter! magic! It sounded like such a me book, and a me book it ended up being after I read it too. SHOREFALL was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020 because of that and whew. This was awkward and painful for me.
I listened to the audiobook for this one instead of reading since I received a copy from the publisher and that’s how I get most of my reads in these days. The narrator was fine but I didn’t love her and I would have preferred maybe two narrators to get a male voice in there too even though a lot of this book is from Sancia’s persperctive, despite being in the third person. Maybe I’m not remembering well, but I feel like we got a LOT more from other POVs in FOUNDRYSIDE and I felt like Gregor had a much stronger presence in that book… I really would have loved to see more character development in this book but it really just fell flat and I feel like we learned almost nothing new about any of the characters except for Gregor in moments of plot reveal. There just really wasn’t much of anything new, and if anything, Sancia just became mushier with a romance involved. It’s not a bad thing but she lost some zip and the character banter was one of the things that made FOUNDRYSIDE so enjoyable. There was pretty much nothing humorous in SHOREFALL and I was pretty bummed to see that missing here.
Speaking of tone, the whole feel of this book seems so different. FOUNDRYSIDE was basically all heist/theiving/scheming and SHOREFALL really didn’t feel engaging like that at all. There are some big villain presences in here and gods/godlike characters getting involved which I guess makes sense after the end of book one but it really did change the feel of just about everything. The book was working on a grander scale which seems to have worked for a lot of people but I just didn’t love it. The concept was a very Brandon Sanderson-esque type of concept for the book but I didn’t like the pacing and plotting here like I do with Sanderson’s books (sorry to make the comparison but it’s part of the reason I loved FOUNDRYSIDE so much) and it really lacked those fun twists or brilliant moments that I’ve loved so much before. There were some big twists here but the scale was just so big that I just wasn’t really into it. It was like it was pushed too quickly and maybe things like this should have been spread out into more than just three books, giving the second book time to set up another task for the team while slowly introducing these higher powers, giving more of a team bonding, time to care about the characters more and become really invested in them, and get the ball rolling on these bigger things coming into play. It seemed like it JUMPED from book one to book two and it was all a bit much for me, coming across as forced and trying too hard to be epic.
The pacing was just not for me at all. There were so many BIG BIG action sequences that I constantly felt like the book was ending with all of these climax-like moments. But then it just kept going and going and going. Everyone sort of seemed like a shell of who they once were with just the big points sticking and I missed all of those pieces that made them human, so the dialogue was boring and sort of eye-roll worthy at points. It felt basic and more like what I expect from some newer or younger authors. There were WAY too many villains speeches with the big bag guy just telling you what he was going to do and there was actually a point where the team was like “What do we do now” and Sancia says “Let’s talk to him. He seems like he likes to talk” (not a direct quote) and I laughed out loud. Yep, he sure does.
I read a couple reviews before I finished the book because there was seriously a point where I considered not finishing but I decided I could make it another five and a half hours. One review pointed out how characters constantly get cut off mid-sentence and wow, that was a mistake to read because it was all I noticed for the rest of the book and really annoying…. And then others raved about the ending of the book and even those who didn’t love it felt the ending redeemed the rest of it. I didn’t really feel that way but there is a big reveal moment that’s supposed to shock you and others that are supposed to tug on your heart-strings. I just didn’t care at that point and wanted the book to end so I was not moved at all but my feelings shut off by that point. As for the plotting…. Eh. I don’t really know if I care to read the last book, even if there are only three and I’d only have to read one more. I don’t really care for where this book took the series and I’m just so disappointed with the pacing, lack of banter, and lack of character development that I really just don’t care what happens, plot-wise or character-wise. I can’t imagine being drawn in enough to care about the last book, and that’s the saddest part of it all when I was so excited about the first book.
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Kept Me Hooked On: Less-mainstream fantasy reads. I don’t really know many people reading this series so it was still enjoyable to read something that was a little “unique” to me.
Left Me Wanting More: The feel of the first book. I missed nearly everything that made the first book what it was. Heists! Banter! Ugh.
If you read FOUNDRYSIDE and enjoyed it, you may still like SHOREFALL. It didn’t work for me but a bunch of other reviewers really loved it!