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shawnhargreaves

Foundryside is the best Brandonish non-Brandon book I've read in ages

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I just finished Foundryside, by Robert Jackson Bennett.  Wow!  Such a great book, and now so frustrating to be waiting for the next :-)

I'm posting here because this tickled all the same appreciation centers in my brain that Brandon consistently does, so I figure there's a better than average chance that others here will also enjoy it.  It has many Brandonish elements:

  • Interesting and deep worldbuilding.
  • Magic-as-science: everything is built from consistent rules, but these rules are not fully understood by in-world characters, some of what they think they know turns out to be wrong, and ongoing experimentation is constantly discovering more.
  • Cinematic action sequences using previously established abilities in creative ways.
  • Plot twists (some of which I saw coming, others not so much).
  • A generosity of pace: there are big mysteries that I was expecting to have to wait multiple books to get resolved, only to be presented with answers in the middle of the first book, at the same time as the story zooms out and the scope keeps getting bigger and bigger...

Early on I worried that it was TOO Brandonish, to the point of being derivative.  The magic system was basically Forging (that same word is even used in a few places!), the main character was Vin, and an early action sequence was a steel+iron Allomantic fight with unrealistic physics. But then I realized the physics were perfectly fine - it's just that the magic was working a different way from what I'd started out with in my head.  There's still a lot in common with Forging, and also with Soulcasting. but these are developed well and go to different places.  Great conversations with the cognitive aspects of inanimate objects: fans of Stick will love the debate with a barely sentient locked door, trying to persuade it that opening would be consistent with the small print of its programming.

Highly recommended!

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Posted (edited)

I read this about a few months ago and loved it. I was afraid when I couldn't get into it much at first but after Sancia meets up with the other characters it gets like a hundred times better. I was a bit weirded out by the modern American slang though.

Sancia interacting with Scrived(scrivened?) objects is always pretty funny.

Also Berenice is the best character. I always imagine her as this sleepy eyed blonde haired (not sure what her hair color actually is) girl in a formal dress who's constantly fiddling with parts in Orso's workshop.

Edited by Zurvanite
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I haven't read it yet, but I felt the same way about City of Stairs.  The prose wasn't very much like Brandon, but the approach to worldbuilding and storytelling was very similar.  

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Posted (edited)

I liked it well enough, but still feel that City of Stairs and City of Blades was better.

It's funny that Brandon criticized the opening to City of Stairs and praised the one to Foundryside because I felt the opposite. Foundryside opened with a thief on a "job" but personally I felt I had no reason to cheer for her because I didn't know her or the background of the situation. City of Stairs opened with a court proceeding and did a great job introducing the political climate and problems/tensions in the city. Perhaps I had too expectations because I will definitely read the next book and appreciated many of the directions he took with this book.

The author has written several other books as well, but the description of them don't interest me despite my regard for him as a author. 

Edited by Ammanas
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I just got this book for christmas, it has been on my to-read list. 

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