Howdy friends. Today I'm fawning over a new favorite world, the world of the Craft Sequence created by Max Gladstone.
So with that stellar pitch out of the way, what are these stories about?
Humans learned how to use magic, called Craft, and used that to kill off most of the gods in the God Wars. Now craftspeople are the CEOs and lawyers and stock brokers in a world they blasphemed for.
*again with the crap pitches*
Okay, we'll try it this way. A bit about Three Parts Dead, the first book written in the Craft Sequence: Koss, one of the last remaining gods in the world, dies, when his assets are overstretched by what looks like poor business deals on the part of his priests. (Faith = Money, right? So imagine him a company that invested poorly and has come up hellishly short.) Tara is a craftswoman tasked with investigating his death, but more importantly, getting his corpse to still function so that the city he maintains can still have electricity and defenses and not dissolve into anarchy. Oh, and also this is her first job that she really needs because she's starving and just got kicked out of University and her hometown. Yeah.
And I mention that it's the first book he wrote rather than the first book in the series because he wrote them out of order chronologically. (Numbers in the titles correspond to their time in relation to one another, more on that here.) I read them in the order that he wrote them, and I actually recommend you do that.
Here is why: My favorite, by far, is Last First Snow, which takes place about 20 years before the events of the rest of the books. It was released 4th in this series, so if you've read the previous books you know how the events played out in Chakal Square and the path Temoc chose. But this is not the yawn-inducing "how he did it" biography it might have been. All the burden of storytelling is removed from those events, and instead Gladstone can invest in the struggle and the sacrifice of the people that made them happen. We already know how the story ends, so we're here for the motivation. And it is painful in the best sort of way.
There are myriad other awesome things I could go into, like 1) how the world much more accurately reflects ours than most other fantasy out there today, 2) none of the protagonists are straight white men, 3) craftspeople don't usually die because of all their accumulated soulstuff, but their bodies decay, so having a boss that's a skeleton wouldn't be worthy of comment, 4) airplanes are dragons that were bored and decided to contract themselves out to carry people in gondolas, 5) HOW AWESOME it is to see a celebrated author be working in the realm of interactive fiction, etc. But I would just rather you read the books.
Again sorry about the iffy pitches. It appears I'm in good company.