In Robert Jackson Bennett’s novel Foundryside, Sancia is given a job to steal a box, she is unconcerned about getting caught due to her unique ability to sense the things around her by touch. Little does she know in this box is an artifact that will change her life forever. You see, in Sancia’s world magic is a written system that allows objects to do things. Sancia’s ability is thus a medical mystery, people themselves don’t have magic they create it. She has now become mixed up in what could be the biggest upset in history, and to survive she has to find allies in the most unconventional of all places: The Merchant Houses. The same Houses that have been the source of her suffering.
Foundryside has a lot of things going for it including political intrigue, plot development and character development. Jackson Bennett interweaves these things together almost flawlessly creating a stunning fantasy novel.
Jackson Bennett creates a world where everything is split into Merchant Houses, and those don’t belong live in Foundyside. This is the rough part of town where the poor barely skate by, often committing crimes just to stay alive. To see this kind of disparity in one place interesting you could walk a foot and suddenly be surrounded by those who are better off in society. But of course the house don’t get along and this is where the political intrigue comes in. These Houses will do anything to get a head of each other, including stealing scrivings from each other. Scrivings are a written magic system that allows for the manipulation of an object. Wood acts like steel. A feather suddenly acts like a cannonball. However, these things need to be discovered and when they are they can put a House from the bottom of the food chain to the top in a matter of days. Of course Sancia gets herself caught up in the Houses’ mess and finds that there’s more than just the Houses at stake but the whole world.
Each character is unique. Sancia is a thief, Orso is an inventor of sorts, Berniece is Orso’s assistant and Gregor is the son of one of the Houses’ leaders and yet they all have to work together for a common cause. The dynamic between the group is fun to watch. They are all suspicious of each other and they slowly warm up to each other out of necessity, but they still bicker about what should be done. Especially when it comes to Sancia. I love that while there is romance in this book you will miss it if you blink. Which is really refreshing to not have a romance be at the center of the plot.
All in all, I really enjoyed Foundryside, it has its flaws but they didn’t take away from my ability to enjoy the book. I’m curious to see where the series is going as I definitely didn’t didn’t see the ending coming. I’ll will be picking up the next book in this series!