I've got a few quibbles with the climax, but it gets 4 stars for imagination and verve. Good stuff, although I'm in no rush to read the sequels.
Full review to follow
There's a lengthy article on the pro's and con's of reading the Craft Sequence in chronological vs published order that I should probably care about. I've got an omnibus edition that put them in publication order, though, so that's what I'm doing.
A rather underwhelming follow up to the excellent Three Parts Dead. In terms of events, this is a prequel, but it was published second. There are some quite good scenes and excellent sentences, but overall, the plot is just some stuff that . . . happens? This isn't a mystery so much as a series of bad things being triaged without any real attempt to identify the underlying disease.
I don't know. Maybe if the last few books I've read hadn't been so outstanding, this would have been a better read.
The main character isn't so much a protagonist as an unwitting minion who can't get a clue short of skywriting, and, once the villian is revealed, even then has some questions before he'll deign to understand. After watching him fail to read people spectacularly and argue inflexibly in the face of contrary evidence, I could never believe he was either good at poker or an effective risk manager. He lacks verisimilitude.
DUDE. HER NAME MEANS BAD. IT'S HER FUCKING NAME.
But excellent setting. I'll read the next one in the hope it is a better fit for my tastes.
Gladstone's third installment in the Craft sequence takes us to an alternate Hawaii. At first, it seems that we have two different stories. But Gladtsone brings them together quite well. More importantly, Gladstone writes wonderfully strong and varied female characters who don't talk about men to each other.
I'm a little wary of multi-author narratives in print, which is a little goofy, considering that this is basically how all television is scripted. I love me some television, but, of course, it must be said that the strength of the singular vision -- the showrunner or creator -- is a huge factor in whether any given show is successful. (Successful to me, anyway; I'm not talking folding green. That's a whole other thing.) But I've been burned with uneven and unsatisfying multi-author novels before, so. I picked this is up because I've been slow-burning my way through Max Gladstone's Craft sequence. Maybe his name is top of the marquee because he's the best known of the writers, but I suspect not. This has his fingermarks on it, narratively speaking -- from the baroque murder mystery plotting to the strange other gods and devils.
But even if Gladstone wasn't the showrunner, if you will, whoever it was did an excellent job. I greatly enjoyed Bookburners, even despite my prejudice.. I felt like it overcame the lumpiness of multi-author novels I've read through what must have been good editorial control, which nevertheless allowed the individual writers to show off their specific style. Each section is episodic like television, with a mini-arc that has its own satisfaction. Sometimes the episodes were more mythology heavy, and that's fun too. The possibilities of the premise are no where near exhausted by the end, which is also a plus, given how many television shows / series / trilogies / whatever should be strangled after the first outing. How many Matrix movies are there, for example? Want to talk about season 2 of Heroes? or Lost?
Anyway, much fun was had by me.