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Sancia Grado does not understand her powers. She certainly has never met anyone who shares the same abilities. This doesn’t stop her from using them to become a successful thief. Her confidence leads to her biggest heist yet. A job with high risk and demanding all of her talents, but for twenty thousand duvots she’ll sneak into one of the most heavily guarded buildings in all of Tevanne. This is her one chance to dramatically improve her life. Either she succeeds or dies, this may well be Sancia’s last heist.  By accepting, she unknowingly enters a war that threatens reality itself. Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett is a feast of worldbuilding.

FoundrysideIn Foundryside, power is directly tied to Scriving technology. Scriving is both a written language and an art form. Inscribing Scriving commands on objects allows the possibility for that object to defy the laws of physics. The use of Scrived armaments can turn the tides of war. It is how the merchant houses in the city of Tevanne maintain their rule. Robert Jackson Bennett balances the power of this ultimate weapon by making it difficult to use. Perhaps similar to computer coding, Scriving requires specific wording to work. Due to its capability in altering reality, unclear commands may result in catastrophic failure.

Foundryside is told through several narratives including Sancia Grado and Captain Gregor Dandolo. Each character has their own unique experience with Scriving. It sheds insight on how this incredible technology impacts everyone differently depending on their social class. Scriving drives social disparity.

Robert Jackson Bennett capitalizes on what makes fantasy heist novels such as The Lies of Locke Lamora, The Final Empire, and The Gutter Prayer so memorable; innovative worldbuilding. Foundryside is set in a fantasy world blended with magic and technology. While Bennett’s novel draws on cyberpunk elements such as technology and a dystopian society ruled by totalitarian merchant houses, its spirit is firmly established as an epic fantasy heist.

The world of Foundryside and particularly the history of Scriving is riddled with conspiracy and secrecy. While civilization is reliant on Scrived technology, it is barely understood. Throughout time, most of its capabilities were forgotten and lost. It is thrilling to discover a world where there is still so much left to learn and reveal even after the last page.

There are moments when the expansive worldbuilding overshadows the more intimate setting of the city of Tevanne. Robert Jackson Bennett builds an intriguing foundation for Tevanne in which its laws and regulations are discretionary. It would have been exciting to have this shown more.

Robert Jackson Bennett imprints life into his novel with his immersive worldbuilding. Written in a way that has the reader excavating through layers of its history, Foundryside sparks curiosity and wonder.

Read Foundryside by Rober Jackson Bennett

Carrie Chi Lough

Carrie Chi resides in Colorado with her other half and their puppy, Irwin. She is always searching for dark SFF and horror stories to bury herself in.

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