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Foundryside
Cover of Foundryside
Foundryside
A Novel
"The exciting beginning of a promising new epic fantasy series. Prepare for ancient mysteries, innovative magic, and heart-pounding heists."—Brandon Sanderson

"Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!"—Tamora Pierce
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In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself—the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne's docks, is nothing her unique abilities can't handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia's been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic—the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience—have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact's secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there's nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that's under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact's power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.
"The exciting beginning of a promising new epic fantasy series. Prepare for ancient mysteries, innovative magic, and heart-pounding heists."—Brandon Sanderson

"Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!"—Tamora Pierce
-
In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself—the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne's docks, is nothing her unique abilities can't handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia's been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic—the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience—have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact's secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there's nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that's under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact's power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter 1

    As Sancia Grado lay face down in the mud, stuffed underneath the wooden deck next to the old stone wall, she reflected that this evening was not going at all as she had wanted.

    It had started out decently. She'd used her forged identifications to make it onto the Michiel property, and that had gone swimmingly – the guards at the first gates had barely glanced at her.

    Then she'd come to the drainage tunnel, and that had gone... less swimmingly. It had worked, she supposed – the drainage tunnel had allowed her to slink below all the interior gates and walls and get close to the Michiel foundry – but her informants had neglected to mention the tunnel's abundance of centipedes, mud adders, and shit, of both the human and equine variety.

    Sancia hadn't liked it, but she could handle it. That had not been her first time crawling through human waste.

    But the problem with crawling through a river of sewage is that, naturally, you tend to gain a powerful odor. Sancia had tried to stay downwind from the security posts as she crept through the foundry yards. But just when she reached the north gate, some distant guard had cried out, "Oh, my God, what is that smell?" and then, to her alarm, dutifully gone looking for the source.

    She'd avoided being spotted, but she'd been forced to flee into a dead-end foundry passageway and hide under the crumbling wooden deck, which had likely once been a guard post. But the problem with this hiding place, she'd quickly realized, was it gave her no means of escape: there was nothing in the walled foundry passageway besides the deck, Sancia, and the guard.

    Sancia stared out at the guard's muddy boots as he paced by the deck, sniffing. She waited until he walked past her, then poked her head out.

    He was a big man, wearing a shiny steel cap and a leather cuirass embossed with the loggotippo of the Michiel Body Corporate – the candle flame set in the window – along with leather pauldrons and bracers. Most troublingly, he had a rapier sheathed at his side.

    Sancia narrowed her eyes at the rapier. She thought she could hear a whispering in her mind as he walked away, a distant chanting. She'd assumed the blade was scrived, but that faint whispering confirmed it – and she knew a scrived blade could cut her in half with almost no effort at all.

    This was such a damned stupid way to get cornered, she thought as she withdrew. And I've barely even started the job.

    She had to get to the carriage fairways, which were probably only about two hundred feet away, behind the far wall. And she needed to get to them sooner rather than later.

    She considered her options. She could dart the man, she supposed, for Sancia did have a little bamboo pipe and a set of small but expensive darts that were soaked in the poison of dolorspina fish; a lethal pest found in the deeper parts of the ocean. Diluted enough, the venom should only knock its victim into a deep sleep, with an absolute horror of a hangover a few hours later.

    But the guard was sporting pretty decent armor. Sancia would have to make the shot perfect, perhaps aiming for his armpit. The risk of missing was far too high.

    She could try to kill him, she supposed. She did have her stiletto, and she was an able sneak, and though she was small, she was strong for her size.

    But Sancia was a lot better at thieving than she was killing, and this was a trained merchant house guard. She did not like her chances there.

    Moreover, Sancia had not come to the Michiel foundry to slit throats, break faces, or crack skulls. She was here to do a...
About the Author-
  • ROBERT JACKSON BENNETT is the author, most recently, of the Divine Cities trilogy, which was a 2018 Hugo Awards finalist in the 'Best Series' category. The first book in the series, City of Stairs, was also a finalist for the World Fantasy and Locus Awards, and the second, City of Blades, was a finalist for the World Fantasy, Locus, and British Fantasy Awards. His previous novels, which include American Elsewhere and Mr. Shivers, have received the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Phillip K. Dick Citation of Excellence. He lives in Austin with his family.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 18, 2018
    Bennett’s stunning fantasy, the first in a series, is set in Tevanne, a city-state run by four merchant houses, funded by pillaging nearby lands and powered by scrivers who use sigils to make devices that defy reality. When talented thief Sancia Grado steals a sentient golden key named Clef, she’s pursued by paladin-like police captain Gregor Dandolo, scion of the Dandolo merchant house. Clef and Sancia are both shocked when they find they can communicate telepathically. This and Sancia’s other abilities—linked to a painful scar on her skull—hint at strange, terrible things in her past. When someone tries to kill Gregor to get Sancia, they discover that a very ambitious and powerful figure is building something that could “annihilate scriving on a mass scale,” a disastrous disruption of Tevanne’s society. With a little help from Gregor and Clef; Orso Ignacio, the eccentric Dandolo head of research; scriver Berenice Grimaldi; and other singularly skilled allies, Sancia sets out to pull off the most dangerous theft of her life. The endlessly inventive Bennett (the Divine Cities trilogy) brings humor and empathy to his portrayal of Sancia, a dark-skinned woman who bears substantial physical and psychological scars from being enslaved and experimented on, and who deeply resents her unwanted talents. Sancia and Clef’s friendship is poignant, and her journey of self-realization serves as a backbone for nearly nonstop, cleverly choreographed action sequences. This is a crackling, wonderfully weird blend of science fiction, fantasy, heist adventure, and a pointed commentary on what it means to be human in a culture obsessed with technology, money, and power. Agent: Cameron McClure, Donald Maass Literary.

  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2018
    Bennett (City of Miracles, 2017, etc.) inaugurates another series of imaginative, thoroughly idiosyncratic fantasy novels.Mona Lisa meets The Matrix in Bennett's introduction to the carefully constructed world of Tevanne, a city-state dominated by four merchant houses--literally. The four big boys (think Amazon, Google, Facebook, and...well, Penguin Random House, maybe) occupy fortresses that, though stoutly built and heavily patrolled, are no match for Sancia Grado, a gamin version of the Tom Cruise of Mission Impossible, if not Spiderman. Sancia scales walls and penetrates castle keeps with ease, and she's not above dispatching a guard or two in the pursuit of her work: "She did have her stiletto, and she was an able sneak, and though she was small, she was strong for her size." Bless her heart, Sancia shows mercy, pulls off the heist she was hired for, then retreats into the teeming, seething world between the walls of those great houses, whose masters have made a killing with a thing called "scriving"--"instructions written upon mindless objects that convinced them to disobey reality in select ways." Thus a carriage on a horizontal plane might be commanded to roll as if on a steep slope, removing the need for horses to pull it. But what if some corporate villain were to scrive a person in such a way that he or she might become a soldier impervious to pain or discomfort, an arrow that might travel with the wall-breaking force of a cannonball? That's the scenario Sancia tumbles into when she discovers that she's stolen--wait for it--a talking key named, naturally, Clef. The baddies want Clef to complete their job of world domination, Clef wants to find the lock of his dreams, and Sancia--well, Sancia has many a fish to fry, alternately helped along and hindered by fellow criminal masterminds, proletarians, a well-connected cop worthy of Umberto Eco, executives of ill intent, and a few other talking inanimate objects.If you accept the notion that the laws of gravity are just suggestions, this makes for a grand entertainment.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    July 1, 2018

    Industrialized magic, applying a technology called "scriving," is what makes the city of Tevanne run. Four merchant houses have monopolized and become wealthy by wielding this power, which imbues ordinary objects with sentience. Outside of their prosperous closed-off enclaves live the poor in crime-ridden communities; one of these residents is thief Sancia Grado, who ekes out a living using her own special talents for reading objects. When she steals a magical artifact from a heavily guarded warehouse on the city's docks, she comes into possession of an object that could change the world--or destroy it. Now someone wants her dead. Sancia joins forces with police captain Gregor Dandelo to stop those in power from achieving complete domination. VERDICT This engaging new series from Bennett ("Divine Cities" trilogy) features a masterly blend of fantastical magic with sf technology that will engage readers to the final page. [See Prepub Alert, 2/19/18].--Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Amal El-Mohtar, New York Times Book Review "An absolutely riveting secondary world fantasy...I felt fully, utterly engaged by the ideas, actually in love with the core characters for their differences and the immensely generative friction between them, and in awe of Bennett's craft. I went to bed late reading it and woke up early to finish it. A magnificent, mind-blowing start to a series I'm hungry for."
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A Novel
Robert Jackson Bennett
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