Book Review: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (Craft Sequence #1)

Genre : Fantasy

Publisher : Tor

Length : 336 pages

Format : Ebook

Rating : 3,5 stars

Publication Date: October 2nd 2012


A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.

Book Review

Tara is a Craftwoman working for the powerful international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao. Her job is to resurrect Kos the Everburning, a God who died suddenly and left the powerful city of Alt- Coulumb without any protection. Without the fire of Kos, Alt-Coulumb and its people will fall apart and Tara and her boss, Mrs Kevarian, are the only ones capable of finding out what happened to him and what or who exactly destroyed him.

I have been meaning to read Three Parts Dead for years at this point. I put this book in many, many TBRs and I finally picked it up in 2022 (the fact that it was on my list of books to read this year helped but still!). The only other work I have read by Gladstone is This is How You Lose the Time War, a book he co-wrote with Amal El-Mohtar, and one of my all-time favorite books. Let’s say my expectation were set pretty high for this book!

The elements I enjoyed the most in this first entry in the Craft Sequence universe was the worldbuilding. Gladstone’s world is a wonderful mix of traditional fantasy ideas and urban fantasy. When I think of urban fantasy, I usually think about stories set in modern days with vampires and werewolves and not about stories set in magical cities filled with gargoyles and other creatures, but Three Parts Dead showed me how diverse urban fantasy stories could be. The richness and complexity of the world reminded me a lot of P. Djéli Clark’s Djinn books. I could picture every detail of this colorful world. I love the Djinn books so; I automatically enjoy every works that can give me similar vibes!

However, the worldbuilding is where the similarities stop. The elements I enjoyed the most about Clark’s stories are his characters and it is the aspect I enjoyed the least in Three Parts Dead. In this book, we meet a lot of different characters including Tara herself, Abelard a priest with a strong cigarette addiction, Shale, a gargoyle, and Cat a woman working for Justice. While I perfectly understand the role of every character, I do not think like I got to fully understand them and their motivations. They felt more like ideas of characters and pawns to be pushed around than fully-fleshed out characters. Abelard’s character especially felt like a plot device to be used at convenient times (which is fitting if you have read the book but still).

I used to be a plot and worldbuilding-driven reader but these days, I am really into good character-work so, this aspect left me a bit disappointed. It also doesn’t help that I haven’t had a lot of time to read lately so my lack of engagement towards the characters didn’t help me to pick up this book when I had free time.

However, I’ve never read a story set in a world that blends legal drama and gods quite like this one and I thought Gladstone discussed the idea of consent and humans playing as gods in a very interesting way and I’m intrigued to see how he is going to explore it further.

Not quite what I expected but good nonetheless!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (Craft Sequence #1)

  1. Your comments about the characters in this book mirror my own considerations: the worldbuilding (here and in Two Serpents Rise, which I also read) is very intriguing, but the characters remain a bit… aloof, for want of a better word. Still, the world Gladstone depicts is very vivid, and that has to be enough…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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