'A refreshing look at magic - featuring a heroine every reader will root for - from one of the smartest writers I know', says Peter V. Brett, New York Times bestselling author of The Demon Cycle
The upstart firm Foundryside is struggling to make it. Orso Igancio and his star employee, former thief Sancia Grado, are accomplishing brilliant things with scriving, the magical art of encoding sentience into everyday objects, but it's not enough. The massive merchant houses of Tevanne won't tolerate competition, and they're willing to do anything to crush Foundryside.
But even the merchant houses of Tevanne might have met their match. An immensely powerful and deadly entity has been resurrected in the shadows of Tevanne, one that's not interested in wealth or trade routes: a hierophant, one of the ancient practitioners of scriving. And he has a great fascination for Foundryside, and its employees - especially Sancia.
Now Sancia and the rest of Foundryside must race to combat this new menace, which means understanding the origins of scriving itself - before the hierophant burns Tevanne to the ground.
The thoughtful second installment to Bennett's Founders fantasy trilogy (after 2018's Foundryside) kicks off as a clever caper but swiftly changes tone, shifting into supernatural horror. Sancia Grado, an ex-thief able to "flex" her mind to see hidden magical inscriptions and commune with enchanted objects, aids her fellow mage-technicians of Foundryside a well-wrought fantasy world that will put readers in mind of Renaissance Venice to infiltrate the grand merchant houses of the city's robber barons and redistribute their powerful "scrived" belongings to the public. But as Sancia's budding revolution celebrates its first success, the resurrection of a legendary wizard, the hierophant Crasedes Magnus, forces Sancia to turn to her own scrived objects to combat him. The ancient magical items she'll need are powerful enough to rewrite reality and sentient enough to have their own agendas, leaving Sancia with an impossible choice between "the unimaginable and the irredeemable." The industrialized magic system is intricate and fascinating (if at times overly detailed), and Bennett's characterization of the unhinged, all-powerful Crasedes strikes a perfect balance between terror and allure. This thrilling installment will leave readers eager for the series finale.