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Review: Founders 02: Shorefall

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

As a magical revolution remakes a city, an ancient evil is awakened in a brilliant new novel from the Hugo-nominated author of Foundryside and the Divine Cities trilogy.

Having narrowly saved the metropolis of Tevanne from destruction, Sancia Grado and her allies have turned to their next task: sowing the seeds of a full-on magical-industrial revolution. If they succeed, the secrets behind scriving—the art of imbuing everyday objects with sentience—will be accessible to all of Tevanne’s citizens, much to the displeasure of the robber-barons who’ve hoarded this knowledge for themselves.

But one of Sancia’s enemies has embarked on a desperate gambit, an attempt to resurrect a figure straight out of legend—an immortal being known as a heirophant. Long ago, the heirophant was an ordinary man, but he’s used scriving to transform himself into something closer to a god. Once awakened, he’ll stop at nothing to remake the world in his horrifying image.

And if Sancia can’t stop this ancient power from returning? Well, the only way to fight a god…is with another god.

Goodreads, Synopsis


ARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Shorefall is the second book in the Founders series, following the wonderful Foundryside making it one of my most anticipated releases in 2020. Does it live up to its predecessor? In short, absolutely!

The story picks up around three years after the events in Foundryside and is still based in the city of Tevanne. As with Foundryside, Shorefall explores a wide variety of issues, such as power, oppression, slavery, rebellion and redemption, all in a unique world that relies heavily on scriving. I loved scriving in the first book and was not sure what Bennett could do to improve or evolve it, but he does. In the first book we learn a lot about how scriving is used in the world—it is the source of power for the elite houses, the source of oppression for those who live outside the campos, and is used in every aspect of life. Scriving takes another step forward in Shorefall, in the form of heirophantic commands, which we learned a little about in Foundryside. These scriving commands, which the heirophants refer to as permissions and privileges, are extremely powerful and fun to read and learn about. Though, I do not doubt their scope will increase in book 3.

I feel it is hard for me to discuss this book much without giving away spoilers, so this will not be a long review. For example, twinning is used in a completely new way, but I do not want to tell you how.

“But it is a regrettable thing that in order to fix a monstrous world, one must become a little monstrous in one’s own right.”

Besides the Foundrysiders (Sansia, Bernice, Orsa and Gregor), other key characters are Gregor’s mother and two powerful beings, Crasedes and Velaria. The combination of each of these characters provides the story with a lot of depth and multiple story arcs which conjoin and overlap beautifully—Bennett gradually drops information from past into the current-day story in Tevanne wonderfully well and it gets you thinking about humans as a species. I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic created by Crasedes and Valeria, I found myself liking and disliking each at times, I could not decide who I’d have sided with or who I thought was the ‘good’ one.

The final thing I want to mention is the ending. I was sure, at parts through the book, I’d knew how it would end, but I was totally surprised with the ending or this part for the story, which is the followed by a few more chapters which setup the next book in the series wonderfully well. It is great when a book you enjoy have an ending you could not predict or envision.

This is a must read if you enjoyed Foundryside. If you have not read this series; I would advise you to do so.

“If the children of men cannot rid themselves of their predilection for slavery, then the children of men shall be made slaves themselves. If they cannot make the right choice, then it’s better to just remove the choice entirely”