You know what it s like You read the first book by a new author and you fall in love with the series You know you shouldn t You ve been hurt before Then the second book shows up and it s just meh It s called the sopho slump And all of us who have been burned by it learn to dread it Especially when we really enjoyed the first book of the series Good news You don t have to worry about that here If anything, I enjoyed this bookthan the first one in the series And that s really saying something You can read that review if you like, to see how gushy I got This book continues in the same world It follows the familiar themes established in the first book, but it doesn t just re hash the previous story Instead Max opens up a new part of the world We see new gods and religions New cultures and new complications The new story grows very naturally out of these things Perhaps best of all, this is what I think of as a hopeful book That s rare these days, especially when the author is writing a world that is dystopian or post apocalyptic These books kinda are So while this book does has dark elements, we aren t left with something so grim as to be oppressive or nihilistic Instead we have characters that fight against the fact that the world kinda sucks, hoping to make things better Yeah I like books where people try to make the world a better place Sue me So yeah If you liked the first one, there sgoodness waiting here for you And even if you haven t read that one, you still might dig on this Not that I would ever condone the horrible practice of non sequential reading, mind you. I believe most people read this book TSR after they had read Three Parts Dead TPD , as myself I could not help myself comparing both books, and harshly judge TSR is a lesser book than TPD But after finished the book, I am not so sure Some points that I want to share comparing these two books 1 TPD has faster pace, the entire novel is telling stories in time length of days without the background stories, of course TSR story takes months, maybe a year Maybe some readers who like the fast pace in TPD, found TSR as a boring slow read 2 The characters of TSR aregenerics than TPD I think this is the biggest weakness of TSR Based on characters, I felt like TSR is the debut, not TPD.I believe the author is a smart person, so with slower pace, I expect something good for the trade I found some aspects where TSR is superior than TPD 3 The conflicts of using The Craft versus Power of gods are discussed deeper on TSR than on TPD Not only discussed on dialogues, but affecting the plots also.4 More ambitious plots and setting view spoiler For example, Two Serpents are not gods, they arepowerful and wilder than gods hide spoiler Sometimes there are books that I want to re read, almost from the first minute after turning the last page Gladstone s first novel Three Parts Dead was one of those select few One of theoriginal fantasies I had read last year, it easily made my Top Reads list So it was with some surprise that I finished Two Serpents and found myself avoiding it, unwilling to write a review and unwilling to read again At the end of the book, my reaction was a solid meh, and yet there were intriguing parts and interesting characters, so I had a very hard time identifying why it didn t work as well as Three Parts did As I finally re read, I think the answer lies in both world building and narrative The rest of the review speculates on author motivations and takes quotes possibly out of context Just so GR doesn t feel like deleting my review, I ve posted it permanently athttp clsiewert.wordpress.com 2014 0ANDhttp carols.booklikes.com post 7865 Sometimes I wind up blown away It seems to happenandoften with UF than I thought it would, but so be it It happened again.Max Gladstone is awesome.We move to new characters in the Craft Sequence, but not a new world The God Wars haven t really gone away and certain quasi avatars are still a going concern But wait is this really a novel about Risk Management and preventing the world s power or waterworks from drying up because the great systems that plug themselves into sleeping gods is malfunctioning Yes, in part, and the big action goes much deeper and much stranger than even that But the real action and the part that really blows me away is the ROMANCE Yeah You heard me We ve got two people who seem to be as different as night and day, a risk taker and a risk manager, and yet both seem to be coming toward the center in their own ways They re drawn to each other despite career choices, logic, or common sense.And yet they re both rather devoted to the idea of loving each other There s not even sex happening They re just smitten and trying to squeeze the very most out of each moment with each other that they possibly can before many millions in the city start going really thirsty.It s sweet It s tragic You can smell it coming And then all kinds of hell breaks loose And I cried.I mentioned that I don t expect to get affected like this out of UF I ve read so many and they re generally fun as hell, but I don t expect this kind of reaction And on a second book, either WTF I m amazed.Someone has just been tipped into deep fanboy status. 4.5My GR friends ratings of Two Serpents Rise are all over the place, and I can see why For me, the worldbuilding, the ideas, the questions, the pure conceptual brilliance not only saved the book but made it memorable However, while the setup was promising, the first half of the plot was in desperate need of resuscitation Caleb Altemoc, risk analyst, is called out to a gruesome death by one of the reservoirs he had assessed The Wardens thought this was a homicide until the reservoir tried to eat them Caleb, on the hook for the investigation, becomes distracted by a beautiful, mysterious, sharp edged cliff runner he discovers at the scene of the crime Plot driving actions often depend on flimsy or nonsensical reasoning, and the protagonist is the worst of the bunch Put it this way Caleb s only explanation for a series of idiotic actions is a nearly fatal case of Instalove As his friend puts it You re infatuated I m not I want to help her Because she s pretty Because it s the right thing to do, he said And pretty is not even the right word She burns She s a verb view spoiler But while Caleb is probably the worst offender life lesson don t trust women whose names actually mean bad , he s not the only one What was the point of Mal wearing a tracking necklace Why did she kill her runner friends, given that the attack on them was really only a side issue to the suicide bombing goddess Why did the radical leader kill a bunch of people and then commit suicide His desire to leave the world for the next generation just makes no sense to me Why didn t Temoc bow out of Caleb s thing and just go off and kill one of his followers, saving all the trouble and risk of getting into the pyramid hide spoiler I really wanted to like this book I loved Three Parts Dead and I knew that Two Serpents Rise changed locations and had a new cast of characters but it just didn t work for me Two Serpents Rise introduces us to Caleb, a risk manager in the city of Dresediel Lex He s enjoys gambling and that s about it I found him to be incredibly dull and he bored me to tears He s your average white guy He falls in love with Mal, a cliff runner parkour, basically He has daddy issues Yeah, that s about it.His relationship with Mal felt forced She s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl They have no chemistry and have no reason to be together other than the author says so From chapter 31 about 50% inHow much did he know about her, really A few chance encounters Chemistry They had saved each other s lives They were both woundedYou can keep saying they have chemistry but it doesn t make it true There s no connection between these two characters except what Max Gladstone keeps insisting on It just doesn t work.The main plot was kind of interesting The water reservoirs have been poisoned with a demon I kept saying it like Woody from Toy Story Somebody s poisoned the waterhole There s a lot of magic in this world but I don t know how it works The Craft isn t really explained there s no definable system like Sanderson s works Usually I don t mind that but the rest of the book left me scrambling to find something to make sense because nothing else did There was too much going on with the worldbuilding this time around Ritual human sacrifice, zombies, giant serpents, fallen gods, ghosts, spirits it felt like Gladstone was throwing whatever he could at the wall to see what stuck.Gladstone s writing has improved on Three Parts Dead Sentences likeSickly blue green luminescence shone from everywhere and nowhere at once, casting no shadows undigested remnants of light, vomited up by their adversaryare one of the few things I enjoyed in this book I also liked the side characters I wish the story had been about The King in Red and his adversary, Alaxic They haddepth than Caleb and Mal put together.I ended up speed reading the last 40% or so just to be done with the book I know this review isn t a ringing endorsement but I encourage anyone who liked Three Parts Dead to read Two Serpents Rise This is a case of a book not working for me but that doesn t mean it won t for you.D This review is of an Advance Uncorrected Proof provided by Tor in exchange for an honest and fair review A burgeoning desert city, Dresediel Lex depends upon Craft and the power of fallen gods to quench its ever growing thirst When demons are planted in the city s water supply, Red King Consolidated, the utility that provides water to the city, suspects religious fanatics eager for the return of the gods or good old fashioned corporate competition Caleb Altemoc, a risk manager for the omnipresent Red King Consolidated and son of Temoc, a wanted religious terrorist, is sent to investigate He soon finds himself falling for a potentially dangerous woman, questioning his loyalties to his employer and to his father, and learning that the deified twin serpents of Dresediel Lex survived the God Wars and slumber as they await an eclipse that will awaken a hunger that can only be sated with blood sacrifice Two Serpents Rise returns us to the world if not the characters and city of Alt Coulumb presented in Three Parts Dead, and this is a brilliant move on the part of author Max Gladstone Neatly side stepping the tendency of many authors to get locked into one character and a formulaic plot structure for a never ending series, Gladstone continues to create this unnamed world of magic and technology that is at once primitive and futuristic, where humans and gods coexist This world provides Gladstone with a broad canvas for his impressive, imaginative world building, and he is at his best when writing of the terrible majesty of the gods, as fantastically varied as the cultures that spawn them However, these gods, brought into existence by man s faith, have been destroyed or harnessed after the God Wars, when mankind realized they could kill what they had created or restructure the power of the gods to serve the needs of modern man The mythologies created by Gladstone capture the primal need for the divine and the rational, civilized mind s rejection of religious fanaticism a dichotomy represented in the character of Caleb The son of a once powerful Eagle Knight priest desperate to cling to the old ways of blood sacrifice, Caleb rejects the brutal and barbaric religion of his father, but is uncomfortable with the manner in which defeated gods have been utilized by concerns like Red King Consolidated to meet the needs of the people As Caleb seeks the source of the water contamination, he must come to moral terms with Dresediel Lex s problematic history and the cultural divide created in the wake of the God Wars Caleb s contentious relationship with his father provides the novel withdepth than one might expect of a standard fantasy novel, and I found myself wishing that Gladstone had jettisoned Caleb s strained, awkward, and perplexing romantic relationship with Mal in favor ofinteraction between father and son The mystery at the core of Two Serpents Rise, when stripped of its magical accouterments, is fairly standard, but serviceable to moving the plot forward There are few surprises and maybe a few too many red herrings and segues into nonessential plot elements, but these quibbles are fairly minor when stacked against the entertainment to be found in exploring Gladstone s complex, layered world Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder and at Shelf Inflicted The New Novel Set In The Addictive And Compelling Fantasy World Of Three Parts DeadShadow Demons Plague The City Reservoir, And Red King Consolidated Has Sent In Caleb Altemoc Casual Gambler And Professional Risk Manager To Cleanse The Water For The Sixteen Million People Of Dresediel Lex At The Scene Of The Crime, Caleb Finds An Alluring And Clever Cliff Runner, Crazy Mal, Who Easily Outpaces HimBut Caleb Has Than The Demon Infestation, Mal, Or Job Security To Worry About When He Discovers That His Father The Last Priest Of The Old Gods And Leader Of The True Quechal Terrorists Has Broken Into His Home And Is Wanted In Connection To The Attacks On The Water SupplyFrom The Beginning, Caleb And Mal Are Bound By Lust, Craft, And Chance, As Both Play A Dangerous Game Where Gods And People Are Pawns They Sleep On Water, They Dance In Fire And All The While The Twin Serpents Slumbering Beneath The Earth Are Stirring, And They Are Hungry I tried reading this book twice before with no luck, only getting as far as 10% before setting it aside This time would have been my final attempt if I couldn t get any further than that Good thing I was in the right mood and frame of mind to appreciate it for what it is a composite of magical legalities involving water distribution and municipality, and a short meditation on sustainable living and reconciling tradition and modernity in an uneasy post revolutionary world where the gods are dead because they ve been killed off.Whew When spelled out like that, the reason I couldn t get into this book in the past is crystal clear I wasn t in the right frame of mind to enjoy the satire or the weirdness Dresediel Lex sprawled below fifteen thousand miles of roads gleaming with ghostlight and gas lamps Between boulevards crouched the houses and shops and apartment buildings, bars and banks, theaters and factories and restaurants, where seventeen million people drank and loved and danced and worked and died The interesting thing about the world of the Craft Sequence is that it s very much like our own reality, except almost everything about it, from laws to institutions to money to mundane everyday things like public transportation, has a weird magical bent People there live like we do The over populated, desert city of Dresediel Lex is also run by corporations it used to be run by gods, priests, and ceremonial human sacrifices The legal system is a tangled mess The water system is like that as well There s nightlife, there s an art scene, and soul sucking corporate jobs Their police force is made up of cloaked, ghoul like figures that ride barely tamed flying serpentine creatures But since the story is told from the perspective of a young professional, the sights and scenes and thoughts permeating the prose are rather prosaic and pedestrian, which takes the joy and wonder out of the conglomerate, magical, world building efforts on display We put a fence around history and hang a plaque and assume it s over Try to forget The post revolution atmosphere in this Aztec inspired city, on the other hand, is well portrayed in the book I particularly like how everyday life is shown as normal and mundane with the general masses going about their daily business, and no one seems to be aware of the undercurrents of the side that lost the God Wars simmering beneath the surface Just because the fight part of the revolution is over doesn t mean the revolution is actually over.Sixty years ago, the King in Red had shattered the sky over Dresediel Lex, and impaled gods on thorns of starlight The last of his flesh had melted away decades past, leaving smooth bone and a constant grin He was a good boss But who could forget what he had been, and what remained You live in a grim universe That s risk management for you Anything that can go wrong, will with a set probability given certain assumptions We tell you how to fix it, and what you should have done to keep it from happening in the first place At times like these, I become a hindsight professional The book opens up with the main character, Caleb, a risk management manager for the King in Red who currently runs the city, at a poker game Then he is called to investigate a death at a water reserve, which kicks off the central mystery For about 40% of the book, we follow him around the city while not much is happening We do get to see the city up close and hear about all the things that make it tick though Should I be worried that it takes demons to break you out of your funk Everyone likes to be needed, he said It seems someone has poisoned the city s water with demons, and Caleb is tasked with fixing this problem before the city runs out of water, the demons escape, and people take to the streets During the investigation, Caleb runs into an attractive but elusive cliff runner, Mal His instinct tells him she is somehow tied up in this thing, but his hormones persuade him to look the other way and not to dwell on the details Then the backup water source located outside the city is also sabotaged The plot gets a lotcomplicated, layered, and circular from here with the introduction of Caleb s estranged father, a former priest of the old world who led multiple insurrections since the God Wars to overthrow the King in Red, and his role in this whole business The King in Red is in the middle of acquiring a new water related asset, Heartstone, and the deal is settled but still shaky Curiously, Heartstone is run by another former priest of the old world order, not unlike Caleb s father, and the old man just wants to watch the world burn The titular two serpents do rise at the end of the book before being put back to rest Then, in the middle of it all, there s Mal the cliff runner who is also an associate at Heartstone Everything is tied up in a tangled web By the time Caleb unravels this mystery piece by piece, it s almost too late to save the city from itself.Caleb almost refused on principle, but principle had no place on company time I realize now the reason I couldn t get into this book in the past was because Caleb reminded me too much of myself back when I used to work for a similar soul sucking corp Didn t know the meaning of soul sucking until I left that job So Caleb s narration, the monotony of the work, the gradual grinding down of one s self, sounds awfully familiar The moment he chased after Mal, I got it and the book started making sense for me He wasn t chasing after her per se, but after a spark that made him feel something again For Caleb, it was Mal For me, it was an elusive foreign account that was flirting with a possible merger No one in my department could land it, but I thought I could because I d needed itthan everyone else And it was during this chase that I realized I hated the job Hated the office culture, hated the environment that bred that kind of culture, hated the people I saw every day, hated the people I had to answer to And I hated helping a Big 5 corp become even bigger So I left and found a home grown, grass root startup that was just starting out Later on, it got too big too fast and had to sell out to a Big 5, but that s another story for another day Anyhow I d like to take a moment here to thank Max Gladstone for not killing off Teo, Caleb s queer best friend who stuck with him through thick and thin, even when she was tied on the sacrificial alter moments before almost having her heart cut out It s the little things like this that make me have faith in an author, their writing, and where they re taking their series It s what makes me want to stick around for another book, even though this one wasn t quite an enjoyable read I appreciate the work and creativity that went into making it entertaining though.Cross posted at This is the second book in Gladstone s Craft Sequence series which I finally gave up on as it was just annoying Everything I loved from the first book Three Parts Dead was here, but overdone, almost as though the author was trying so hard to create a modernized mashup Aztec Maya Strange Civilization that he didn t have much left over for his disenchanted, and frankly boring, main character He was too busy packing in oddness to pay much attention to either characters or plot It all feels far too forced, as though Gladstone was determined to create a non Eurocentric culture for his book and by golly he was gonna see it through, even though the resulting culture he created doesn t really stand up to scrutiny a little bit of Aztec over here, a little bit of Maya over there, a little bit of WTF over behind the sofa sometimes you just need to Put Down the Research Materials, boy Too many throw away references to things offstage, such as giant lizards hauling freight loads because he s determined to avoid the wheel, and too much trivial staged weirdness it all dams up the flow of the story Gladstone is a good enough writer to not need all this convoluted stuff littering his landscape His editors bear some of the blame they neededruthlessness with their red pencils and less naive fascination with the exotic Native American roots of the cultural setting I blame the East Coast bias of most editing Two Serpents really needed an editor from the Southwest who would ve been less easily taken in by the terrible coolness of it all I will go on to the third book in the series at some point, but that s based on the power of Gladstone s first book and in spite of this one.
Max Gladstone is the author of the Craft Sequence THREE PARTS DEAD, TWO SERPENTS RISE, FULL FATHOM FIVE, and most recently, LAST FIRST SNOW He s been twice nominated for the John W Campbell Best New Writer award, and nominated for the XYZZY and Lambda Awards.Max has taught in southern Anhui, wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat, and been thrown from a horse in Mongolia Max graduated from Yale Univer
- 347 pages
- Two Serpents Rise
- Max Gladstone
- 09 March 2019 Max Gladstone