I binged the Craft Sequence and that was an incredible experience. The magic system is one of the most original and unique I’ve seen. It links magic to law and contracts. Studying magic means studying law, and there is such a school : The Hidden School up there in the clouds. None of the books are set at this school, but the main character of the first and fifth book did graduate from there. The currency is called “soulstuff”, basically bits of your soul, and the industry relies on magic and religion.
Not all the books are set in one city like most urban fantasy, this is not a series where we’re left wondering how is life in other cities, islands, countries. We get to travel, see different regions of this world and how cultures, cults and industries have evolved. This is also set along several years, one of them set several years before the others.
When I first read Three Parts Dead two years ago, I was a little confused and while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t compelled to pick up the next book, since it had a nice conclusion.
But then, I picked Two Serpents Rise back in May, and then went on until The Ruin of Angels that I had received as an eARC. It is now safe to say the Craft Sequence is one of my favourite book series!
Each books follow differents points of views and I loved that there is a great diversity of characters, most of them women, of all ages and ethnicities.
Trigger warning: Self-injurious behaviour (people draw blood quite frequently in this series, either for magical or ritual purposes)
Three Parts Dead (Craft Sequence #1)
Like I said earlier, I had first read this one two years ago and I had almost no memory of it apart from some images that had stuck with me. It was almost like reading it for the first time all over again, since I have a bad memory.
There’s so much to like here. Tara, the main character, is a Craftwoman. It means she graduated from the Hidden School, and can use the same kind of power as the Gods.
This is set in Alt Coulumb, one of the last city with a live God in it. At least, it was. Tara has to go there with her new boss to investigate the death of this God and maybe, try to resurect him.
The Characters :
- Tara Abernathy, gifted headstrong brown girl, kicked out of her school of “magic” and law for burning the lab of a corrupted professor.
- Elayne Kevarian, awesome Craftwoman in her fifties, Tara’s boss and mentor. Basically one of the my favourite character of the series, even if we don’t see that much of her in there. She’s the kind of woman people on tumblr would say things like “I would thank her if she stepped on me“.
- Abelard, anxious but brave priest loyal to the end to his dead god. He smokes a lot.
- Catherine Elle (Cat), a Blacksuit (basically the police, possessed by the Justice goddess), addicted to vampire bites. She is a little bit messed up but has a good heart.
- A side character, Raz Pelham, is a pirate/captain/vampire. This detail alone would make me want to read this! There’s also a gargoyle named Shale, part of an old secret society of gargoyle who were the old protector of the city.
The world-building is a little dense but upon re-reading it after book 2, 3 and 4 it was even better because I had a better understanding of it all. I’d still recommend to start there! I think it might be my favourite of them all.
There is a great review up on io9 explaining the magic system very well : Three Parts Dead mixes magic with courtroom drama
Two Serpents Rise (Craft Sequence #2)
This book is set in a completely different city. While Al Coulumb was a city with a God at its center, Dresediel Lex here is ruled by a God Killer Craftman (more skeleton than man now). This city is also strongly inspired by Aztec mythology and architecture and a craft firm is at the center, the main character working for them.
While not my favourite of the sequence, I would still very much enjoy to re-read this one because I loved to learn more about the city of Dresediel Lex and the way it functions. The mix of technology, magic, economy and logistic for a city in the desert is fascinating and something I’d never seen before in “urban fantasy”.
While the other books of this series have multiple points of view, here we have Caleb as main one, and sometimes an interlude from a different point of view. I’m still going to talk about the side characters below because they were awesome.
- Caleb is a risk manager for the firm ruling the city and has to deal with a demon infestation in the water reservoir. He also is a gambler.
- Teo is Caleb’s best friend. A queer black woman, not afraid to talk some sense into Caleb’s head. She was my favourite! Her girlfriend is a great side character as well.
- Mal is the love interest of this novel and she is a cliff runner, sort of Parkour! There is way more to her than just that but I don’t want to reveal too much 😉
- Temoc is Caleb’s father, the last priest of the old Gods, prime suspect in Caleb’s investigation.
It was amazing here to see how such a city works, from the inside. The King in Red is one hell of a character too.
I saw the end coming but it was still a good ending (all of these books have very strong endings!) and a good book. All the characters have great depth and a good range of opinions about their city and the way it is led.
Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence #3)
I was most excited to read this one because I love the cover! This third book is set on Kavekana, a tropical island where idols are being build by an order of priests and sold in replacement of the Gods killed during the God War (a war referenced throughout all the books.)
- Kai Pohala is a trans woman, native from the island and devoted priestess. When an idol dies, she gets injured trying to save her and is deemed unstable by her boss. Sensing a conspiracy, she will try her best to find out the truth.
- Izza is young girl, refugee because of the war and living in the streets of Kavekana. She’s a thief, a story-teller, and some kind of priestess for street kids, even if she’s reluctant to have people depending on her.
- Cat was first seen in Three Parts Dead! She is in a bad shape here and will need help from Izza. She experiences deep symptoms of withdrawal because of what she left behind.
There is a lot to love in this book! Mystery, conspirary, women helping one another, and guest appearances of characters from the previous books, I had the best time!
Last First Snow (Craft Sequence #4)
That’s the one set in the past, most precisely around 20 years before Two Serpents Rise! Also set in Dresediel Lex. I was ecstatic when I figured out who this was about (because I hadn’t read the synopsis first, going in blind) and I love the depth it added to the first two books.
Mass protest and civil unrest, politics and negotiation, human sacrifice and un-dead CEO, this book was a really great one to read, especially after the second which referenced a lot of what happens in this one!
- Elayne Kevarian, already seen in Three Parts Dead! I loved to finally have her point of view. I grew very fond of her and how powerful, intelligent, caring she is, and so much more. Here she acts as
a middlemanan intermediary between the two sides.
- Temoc! I really didn’t liked him in Two Serpents Rise (with reasons, since Caleb doesn’t either) but this book was great at showing his complexity and the hard choices he had to make.
- Chel is a woman devoted to the cause of the city and to Temoc. She’s brave and I love how she managed to keep her head cool even in the worst circonstances.
This book had an Epic ending! I had read that this was the strongest book and while I understand why (the stakes are super high), I loved how the book forces us to try and understand both parties on the issue at hand. My favourie part was to finally get to Elayne’s pov.
I actually re-read Three Parts Dead between those two because I was afraid I wouldn’t remember enough to really appreciate Four Roads Cross to its maximum potential. Plus I had not many memories of Elayne in it so I just really wanted to get back in! Yeah, I loved Elayne so much that I re-read a previous book mostly for her. Here’s a cool post where Max Gladstone talks about her : MAX GLADSTONE AND THE AWESOME ELAYNE KEVARIAN
Four Roads Cross (Craft Sequence #5)
This one is a direct sequel to Three Parts Dead so I guess it was a good idea to re-read it before jumping in! I won’t say much since it would spoil it I guess, but it was very very good. The beginning was a little slow, but hafway through it things really started to get intense.
I am so glad that we were graced TWICE with the amazing Tara Abernathy on the cover of these books ❤ And Cat and Raz (pirate/captain/vampire) are back too, with a bigger part to play in this one than before.
I feel like I’m forgetting to say MANY things, there is so much to talk about regarding the awesomeness of the Craft Sequence. If you want more details or have question, please please ask away, I’d be delighted to gush more about those books.
The chronological order is easy to remember since it is hinted at in the number found in the titles! Chronological order (better for a re-read) :
Publication order (better to read it that way first, like I did) :
Here are some posts talking about it :
The Goodreads page of the Craft Sequence bundle : (Craft Sequence #1-5)
It’s a super cheap ebook bundle, 8€ for 5 (great) books!
After I finished this original sequence (which can be seen as a “season 1”), I jumped right on The Ruin of Angels (out in September) and I can say it was super great (review will be up closer to pub date!)
I’m looking forward to play the game Choice of the deathless too!!