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Full Fathom Five: A Novel of the Craft Sequence Paperback – 14 Apr 2015


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (14 April 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076533576X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765335760
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,712,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

MAX GLADSTONE went to Yale, where he wrote a short story that became a finalist in the Writers of the Future competition. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts. Full Fathom Five is his third novel. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Rather better than _Two Serpents Rise_, perhaps because the characters we're following have a better understanding of what's going on underneath. The inspired-poetry and street-children plot lines are splendid.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 23 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Richly Detailed Noir Fantasy 23 July 2014
By MooncatX aka Bliss Crimson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It had a really beautiful cover, so I bought it out of curiousity. Mild Spoilers:

Wow... I just can't do this read justice, but I'm going to try. I haven't read the other books or anything else by this author yet. I came into this series cold, and it was a rich, mythic ride I haven't had since God Stalk from P.C. Hodgell or the beautifully razor edged works of Jacqueline Carey and her Kushiel series. It's like cyber punk but with communing with dreams and nightmare instead of jacking into cyberspace and the trading in souls instead of credits, where gods can be made, broken, and murdered, and faith is fragile as gossamer strands and stronger than tactical nukes.

It's beautiful, and rough, in just the right way from twin points of view.

Priest and business woman Kai who tries to save a dying god and is pulled into a classic murder who done it, full of corruption in the shadows and a conspiracy that could do worse than kill her. No good deed goes unpunished and her act of heroism is seen as suspect and she's banished from her inner circle place to a more harmless occupation selling idols to groups wanting to invest their souls (souls equal currency) and keep them safe from Living Gods and Deathless Kings who constantly war in the world outside of the Island of Kavekana'ai. Recovering from the injuries she took trying to save a drowning and doomed god, Kai starts digging into things determined to win back what had been taken from her and prove that she isn't crazy or suicidal.

Izza who is a street kid on the edge of adulthood, living rough and trying to protect the other street kids from the certain doom of the Penitents that loom over them and their island city like mobile monoliths who police and punish by encasing victims inside of the Penitents and slowly, relentlessly break them down and remake them to fit their ordered world. More terrifying than any storm trooper, and seemingly an inevitable fate for the kids who must live by thievery simply to eat. The kids have the thin threads of hope listening to their story teller, Izza. Izza is desperate to escape the the fate of being captured and broken by the Penitents, and tries to distance herself from the needs of the other street children, but a chance encounter and a rescue of a mysterious stranger sets her dead center in a tangled mix of theological espionage and divine secret agents.

Kai and Izza are coming at the same mystery from two different directions, and it's only when they run into each other and join forces that they have even a slim chance of success.

This world created by Max Gladstone is so rich in detail, and soaked in strange and beautiful mythologies. Mixing noir mystery and epic fantasy I would recommend this to anyone who love gorgeous and complex works. It's a fast paced story but a reader may want to linger over the book to take in all in. Worth rereading because it's got so much in it. I plan to buy the earlier books and read them based on what I saw in this book. They appear to be same universe but other parts of the world with other characters. Really awesome and delicious read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
if no better or “perfect” than the good intentions that preceded it 11 Aug 2014
By @Julia_ATUF - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Review courtesy of All things Urban Fantasy.

From the titles to the page, the first three books in the Craft Sequence marry numbers with magic. The stories themselves explore different parts of society, but always on the bedrock of a spiritual economy where soul stuff is traded and bartered to power the world. FULL FATHOM FIVE weaves together new and old characters on an island of idols and mysteries, infusing this broken world with a slowly building hope that is impossible to resist.

As with THREE PARTS DEAD, this story starts in the clinical mechanics of a spiritual economy, and builds to aspirations of a more balanced world, if no better or “perfect” than the good intentions that preceded it. Having familiar faces from prior books working in the background added particular weight to the job of unraveling motives and mysteries in this book, as Cat and Teo and Ms. Kevarian effortlessly add tension to the background every time they appear. The Craft Sequence series works best when grounded in the more accessible elements of this exotic world, and the flowing character perspectives of FULL FATHOM FIVE give a gorgeous human weight to events as they unfold. With Kai, a priestess of the idols once born in the body of a man, and Izza, an orphaned refugee living in the cracks and shadows of society, the story presents both the center and fringes of this island in alternating chapters.

All of the characters in this book slowly ratchet up the tension as you wait for them to intersect. Often times there is both the potential to join forces or collide, with no assurance of how the dominoes will fall. Gladstone is a master at building contagious emotions, and FULL FATHOM FIVE takes readers from wonder to despair to the most delicate of hopes. As deeply as I loved Alt Coulumb, now I find myself so hopeful and starry eyed for the island of Kevekana. Max Gladstone has done it again.

Sexual Content: Non-explicit sex scenes.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The third craft sequence novel is Max Gladstone's best yet 2 Aug 2014
By Jvstin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Kai is a priestess without a God, at least in the traditional sense. She manages and builds Idols, financial instruments for managing soulstuff for those engaged in the cutthroat world of international commerce in Max Gladstone’s Craft Universe. They accept sacrifices, provide a rate of return, and protect those who invest their worship in them. But these Idols, although they have the financial obligations and entanglements like any God, are not really Gods. They are not sentient, they have no awareness, and are just pure financial instruments. Why is Kai and her peers called priestesses, then? Therein lies a story, a story that will be revealed when she falls from favor for an action that seemingly is the right thing to do.

In the meanwhile, Izza, a thief-urchin on the mean streets of the paradise called Kavekana, lives far below Kai, socially and physically. She has a Goddess, though, or had one, anyway; a Goddess who is now dead. Just like the succession of other deities who have risen and died while she and her fellow kids have worshipped and relied on them. But what are these Gods doing on an island dominated by Idols and the Penitents, devices of punishment and social control housing the guilty? Izza wants out of it all, but obligations and events swirling around her have other ideas about her future. And Izza’s story has far more in common with Kai’s than either of them can imagine.

The strength of Full Fathom Five, the newest Craft Sequence novel from Max Gladstone, is without question the diverse set of characters — a predominantly female cast of characters, of all sorts of races and backgrounds. A tropical, volcanic island, a crossroads of commerce and finance, is naturally going to have a diverse population of residents and transients. Gladstone’s world has a very different sort of balance of power between genders, and the result is a set of mostly female characters of color. But it’s more than having a cast of characters who aren’t the typical monochromatic male archetypes that have so long dominated genre fiction (and cover art that reflects that).

A tortured poet, a young girl torn between escape and aiding her compatriots, a priestess whose devotion to duty is not rewarded. All of them have character arcs of growth, change, test and trial, and come out to be transformed by the events of the novel. Fittingly, given how much Kavekana is a crossroads, we also see a couple of familiar faces in the novel from both Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise, in more minor roles. I admit, though, that I could have wished for more of my favorite, Elayne Kevarian, but as she is in an antagonistic role in the novel, it’s understandable that her appearance in the novel is relatively limited.

The rich world of the Craft Sequence gets even more development and exploration in this novel as compared to the previous ones. Here, as opposed to the Death of a God, or the dangers of old ones cracking an entire continent open like an egg, this time we get strange doings with instruments of craft that are explicitly not Gods at all. Or are they? If Three Parts Dead explores Zombie Banks, and Two Serpents Rise explores Too Big to Fail (Awaken), then Full Fathom Five explores what are pretty clearly offshore bank accounts in the Craft Sequence’s equivalent of the Cayman Islands. What are Craft Sequence offshore bank accounts like, and what don’t the users themselves understand about what they created? That would be telling…and is part of the richness of the plot. It does follow and build on some of the ideas explored in his previous novels, and it’s an extrapolation that is clear as well as not completely predictable and straightforward.

I already know that I want a GURPS or FATE worldbook based on the Craft Sequence once Gladstone is done with it. I’d not only play the heck out of it, I’d just love to flip through some of the ideas and corners of his world. The more I see of this world, the more of the edifice he builds, the more I am impressed with it.

As you might guess, then, the major weakness, in my reading of Full Fathom Five is that although the sequence are not direct sequels to each other, the author does seem to rely on the reader having read Two Serpents Rise and (especially) Three Parts Dead to do some of the gap-filling in for a bunch of the foundational worldbuilding. Even with not very strong links in terms of characters to those novels, the world we see here, and its implications, really work best if the reader has been exposed to the more accessible and hand-held portions of the earlier novels, especially Three Parts Dead. Without that foundation, really seeing what Gladstone is doing here, with all of its implications and richness, extending some of his ideas, is difficult, and I think would not do the book justice. This is a criticism that, I think, can also be leveled on, Choice of the Deathless, the text-based adventure game based on the Craft sequence universe.

That said, then, readers curious about Gladstone’s work and universe should not start with Full Fathom Five to really get the full experience of what the author does here. They should, however, not hesitate to pick up Three Parts Dead and find out what the all the fuss is about. You won’t need a deposition from Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao to read more of his work, afterwards, I promise you.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Wow. 5 Sep 2014
By Cissa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I just loved this.

I liked the earlier books in this series pretty well, but this one blew me away. The plot is complicated, twisty, and subtle, and the characters very vivid indeed. Also, the magical system is explained rather more than it was in the previous 2 books, enabling me to get more of a grasp of the potentials. I appreciated that.

While the POV shifted a lot, each character had her/his own, clear voice, so it wasn't confusing. In terms of background- well, one of the things I love about this series is that it just dumps you into the story without much backstory, and you have to figure it out as you read along. (Melissa Scott used to do that in her sf novels, too- great fun for the reader!). The plot here does lead to understanding rather more how the magic works, especially in the magical/religious economy.

This is urban fantasy, but of a very different sort. It's not always an easy read, but it's very rewarding.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Definitely his best work yet 30 Aug 2014
By Stefan Richter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gladstone manages to take us to a world that is alien enough to be interesting and familiar enough to be disturbing. Not only was this a wonderful story on its own merits, but it begins to give shape to an overall narrative behind the Craft Sequence that hints at greatness to come. Definitely worthwhile.
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