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As a magical revolution remakes a city, an ancient evil is awakened in a brilliant new novel from the Hugo-nominated author of Foundryside and the Divine Cities trilogy
Having narrowly saved the metropolis of Tevanne from destruction, Sancia Grado and her allies have turned to their next task: sowing the seeds of a full-on magical-industrial revolution. If they succeed, the secrets behind scriving—the art of imbuing everyday objects with sentience—will be accessible to all of Tevanne’s citizens, much to the displeasure of the robber-barons who’ve hoarded this knowledge for themselves.  
But one of Sancia’s enemies has embarked on a desperate gambit, an attempt to resurrect a figure straight out of legend—an immortal being known as a heirophant. Long ago, the heirophant was an ordinary man, but he’s used scriving to transform himself into something closer to a god. Once awakened, he’ll stop at nothing to remake the world in his horrifying image.
And if Sancia can’t stop this ancient power from returning? Well, the only way to fight a god…is with another god.

493 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 21, 2020

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About the author

Robert Jackson Bennett

30 books17.8k followers
Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 World Fantasy, Locus, and British Fantasy Awards. His eighth novel, FOUNDRYSIDE, will be available in the US on 8/21 of 2018 and the UK on 8/23.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,879 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
August 8, 2022
Gosh, how good it feels to be back into this world. And how utterly horrifying.

Bennett wastes no time flinging us into his world, with a lot more terror and much less hand-holding. Three years have passed, and the city of Tevanne seems determined to tear itself in two. The Foundrysiders—Sanca, Berenice, Gregor and Orso—are once again sidling up to death, this time with a Robin-Hood scheme to steal the scrivings hoarded by the Michiels and distribute them back to the people of Tevanne. But you can only sidle up to death so many times before it grabs your ankle and tries to pull you under. And death coles to the Foundrysiders in the shape of Crasedes, a powerful hierophant now successfully resurrected by Gregor’s grief-stricken mother. Scrivings might be the coins the city of Tevanne trades in—a practice that divests any object of its intended identity, convincing it to “disobey reality in very unusual ways”—but Crasedes’ will can literally reshape the very warp and weft of reality itself.

Crasedes, unfortunately, plans to water the soil of Tevanne with blood, and the Foundrysiders fortunately plan to stop him. The first shot was fired in Foundryside, when the mountain of the Candianos collapsed and the Company fell, but it is here in Shorefall that the battle lines are drawn. This, here, is the beginning of the war. 

“The problem with might, you see,” he said, “is that there’s always someone mightier.” 

Much like its predecessor, Shorefall begins with a heist, and this one is several orders of magnitude more dangerous (and exciting). It’s a firework opening to the novel, but this is where the danger comes in: if, at the end of a nail-biting climax, you still have almost 500 pages to go, aren't you setting your readers up for disappointment? The answer is nope! Shorefall maintains its crackle throughout, not letting up until the very last line.

There is so much plot packed into this single volume I hardly know where to begin. Shorefall has answers to your questions, then more questions after that. This double as an obstacle sometimes, in the places where the plot muffles the characters caught in it. As Sancia, Berenice, Gregor and Orso scamper and scheme their way into the heart of Tevanne’s deadliest secrets, the reader scarcely gets a moment to just stop and breathe and spend time with them, and I found myself, several times, thinking "I missed the crew" even when I'm reading from their own perspective.

Crasedes’ character, however, held all my attention in a solid grip. He's such a compelling character: a villainous figure in the other characters' life who demonstrates a well-intentioned savior complex and the arrogance to rationalize it, even if under the auspices of saving people he sometimes exploits, possesses, and harms them. But where the Foundrysiders spend much of the book bogged down in battles with what’s right and what’s necessary, Crasedes actively does something. It's difficult to think of Crasedes as a "villain" for that reason. When the world is falling apart, sometimes all you want is for someone to do something about it, even if the cost is in to "become a little monstrous in one’s own right."

Though I enjoyed this book a little bit less than its predecessor, I'm looking forward to what Bennett has in store for his readers in the next (and last) installment!
Profile Image for Petrik.
673 reviews42.7k followers
March 23, 2022
ARC provided by the publisher—Del Rey—in exchange for an honest review.

Shorefall is mind-bending great; Robert Jackson Bennett once again proved himself that he is a precious gift for the SFF genre.

I feel like there needs to be a new genre classification for Robert Jackson Bennett’s books, an urban fantasy? Check. High fantasy? Check. Sci-fi? Check. Urban high SFF it is. Yes, it is always a safe bet to read Bennett’s books when you’re in need of a refreshing, fabulous, and incredible read that brims with fascinating ideas and concepts. Having read The Divine Cities Trilogy and Foundryside in 2018, I can’t believe that I made it through 2019 without reading any books written by Bennett. Both The Divine Cities trilogy and Foundryside was enough to establish Bennett as one of my favorite authors, and Shorefall—one of my most anticipated books of the year—continue to amplify that notion.

“If there be a person alive with more power than myself, then over time circumstances shall eventually degrade until, inevitably, I am their slave. And if our situations were to be reversed, then they shall inevitably become mine.”—Crasedes Magnus

Shorefall is the second book in The Founders trilogy, and the story starts almost three years after the end of Foundryside. Still taking place in the city of Tevanne, Bennett takes everything good about Foundryside and expand upon them tremendously. In my review of Foundryside, I mentioned that a lot of aspects in the book reminded me of reading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, Shorefall, in many ways, feels more original and unique. Bennett writes a stupefying engaging story that includes power, slavery, freedom, oppression, social structure, and the dangers that come with each new invention as the main themes. Most importantly, Bennett also made sure that the characters and their developments are still the main driving force of his narrative.

“Humankind is the most innovative at turning innovation to the cruelest ends. Power alters the soul far more than any innovation I could imagine, even at the height of my privileges.”

Sancia Grado and the members of the Foundrysiders are great characters with a distinct personality that became easier and easier to root for as the story progressed. To narrow it down collectively, they are kind-hearted people genuinely trying their best to change the city of Tevanne for the better. I loved reading about them, and if I may be frank, I didn’t expect that I would be emotionally attached to each one of them as much as I did for the characters in The Divine Cities trilogy; clearly, I was wrong. Sancia and the Foundrysiders have to learn a lot about hardship, invention, love, friendship, camaraderie, freedom, and sacrifices through insane adversities here. Plus, Bennett writes an LGBT relationship superbly well. Additionally, what impressed me even further, though, was the fact that the on-point characterizations don’t apply exclusively to the protagonists. It just astounded me how careful and effective was the humanization Bennett imbued into the antagonist’s vision and reasoning, making me feel invested in knowing more about the villain’s motivation and their unflinching brutality.

“Learn what your city has forgotten,” he said. “What men of power have forgotten time and time again, throughout history—that there is always, always something mightier.”

Bennett is so damn good at writing terrifying mythical or powerful figures with awesome abilities. He has demonstrated this in The Divine Cities trilogy, and he remind us how good he is at it in Shorefall. The dreadful feelings and fear caused by the encounter with these avatars of menace simply burst to life palpably. I truly felt the character’s fear and their struggle as they unleashed everything in their arsenal to augment their hope of overcoming impossible odds. Shorefall is most likely the most action-packed book that Bennett has written so far. It is fast-paced, thoroughly breathtaking, and filled with well-written out-of-this-world action sequences that combine fantasy, innovations, and technology into one destructive package. I mean, I’m talking about a myriad of stones flying through the air like a shooting star of death here; the sky is the color of doom, the threat of a wave of blood flooding the Tevanne is real. The stakes exceeded every conflict bestowed in Foundryside, and my god, I was completely enthralled by every page of this marvel.

“But it is a regrettable thing that in order to fix a monstrous world, one must become a little monstrous in one’s own right.”

Scriving—the magic of giving commands/sentience to an everyday object—is a fascinating and intricate hard magic system redolent of Sanderson’s specialty, Bennett’s achievement with pulling off the expansion of Scriving in Shorefall is nothing short of outstanding, reaching vast scope that I never would’ve expected. Bennett has successfully created a world-building that put the history of the world into account for the present predicament. Readers get to learn more about the origin and inconceivable capabilities of scriving—a titanic power capable of governing the very nature of the world, and also at the same time, altering the kindest of souls towards a darker path due to its limitless possibility.

“Maybe you, like so many of this city, believe that all the world should be your servant because you haven’t ever learned what it’s like to be powerless.”

I’ll stop my review here, I wish I can speak more about the brilliance that occurred in this book in much more detail, but I don’t want to spoil your reading experience; I’ve said more than enough anyway. Shorefall is definitely one of Bennett’s best work so far, it’s as least as good as City of Miracles, and I’m not saying that lightly. Shorefall is an absolutely spellbinding sequel that blew my mind with its compelling plot progression, sympathizing characters, thrilling actions, and clever inventiveness in its manipulation of reality, time, and souls. Overflowing with originality and maximum wow factors, Bennett blends sci-fi and fantasy organically, creating a sequel on a magnitude and imagination that can only be executed expertly by the most gifted of authors. And fortunately, Robert Jackson Bennett—without a doubt—belongs in that group of SFF authors.

Official release date: 21st April 2020

You can order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Devin, Hamad, Joie, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.3k followers
March 24, 2020
when there is a lot going on in the world thats easy to complain about, i find it important to remain positive and be grateful for the small things. like the fact that i was given an ARC of this and it fully met all of my very high expectations.

this series is something else. ive said it before, but this is the PERFECT fantasy series for those who dont like fantasy or are wanting to get more into the genre. its a very subtle magical system - it plays a great part in the story, but it doesnt demand attention. it feels natural and is integrated very well into the setting and plot.

(i also want to make a note that i didnt reread ‘foundryside’ before starting this and i was a little nervous because so much world-building and plot happened in the first book. and while i did forget some things, there is enough recap subtly scattered - not an awkward info dump - throughout the first few chapters to catch the reader up to speed. and i am so appreciative of that!)

and i love how this builds so perfectly upon the events of the previous novel. this is by no means a filler sequel. every word, every page, every letter has a purpose and so masterfully creates an engaging plot. the pacing is nonstop, the action is exciting, and the characters are every bit of interesting as i remember them being. i am so beyond pleased with this.

this is set to be released on april 21, so that is plenty of time to pick up the first book and get yourself ready for this wild ride of a sequel.

PS. a massive and personal thanks to kathleen at random house for sending me this ARC. you are an absolute star.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
March 25, 2021

Just published my October Book Vlog and whew! It was a lot of reading but so worth it!
The Written Review

There is no innovation that will ever spring from the minds of men that will not eventually be used for slaughter and control.
Tevanne City just barely survived the most recent disaster, and with everyone (at least for now) safe, Sancia and her friends focus on breaking up the monopoly on scrivings (magical writings).

Which (unsurprisingly) leads to a lot of corporate sabotage.
“Remember the plan,” said Sancia.
“I just also remember there’s a lot of spots in the plan that say, ‘Sancia improvises a bunch of shit.’ Which is not, you know, comforting.”
And just when they celebrate the success of their wildest mission...the worst happens.

An old enemy has decided to resurrect an ancient evil. And evil so great and terrible that all life becomes at risk.

It's up to Sancia and her crew to save the world. Again.
“You know, for people who do a lot of work to avoid having laws,” he told the captain, “you certainly do seem to invoke a lot of them when it’s to your benefit…”
Oh my gosh. I absolutely LOVED this book.

Shorefall is such a wonderful continuation of The Founders Trilogy - I'm so excited that the energy from the first book was brought to the second.

I am SO in love with this world - their wild, complicated magic.

I've never thought I'd ever get so into a world's magic system - and yet here I am. Just soaking up all the glorious details.

I adored the characters of this book - Sancia and co. are so incredibly real! Their struggle and heartbreaks really brought this one to life for me.

All in all, I'm ecstatic about this book and I cannot WAIT to get my hands on book 3!

A huge thank you to the author for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
July 25, 2022
And the moral of this rereread is: there's nothing quite like the mad, wild shit Sancia & friends get their little selves mixed up in, if you ask me.

P.S. "Fundibular" is my new favorite word, just so you know.

👋 To be continued and stuff.

[April 2020]

You know that feeling when the book you just finished reading is so Bloody Slightly Amazing (BSA™) that you have no Bloody Fishing Idea (BFI™) what to say about it? Yeah well, hello and welcome to yet another Robert Jackson Bennett Wrote It Ergo Quite Blank My Little Mind Is (RBJWIEQBMLMI™) review, my Little Barnacles.

*desperately looks at the whole of her two lines of notes for this book in search of inspiration*
*fails epically (albeit nefariously)*

Okay okay, I can do this and stuff. I ruthlessly rule over millions of murderous crustaceans, have conquered countless puny human territories and sacrificed more newborn babies than there are dinoflagellates in the sea, so the end of me this miserable little review shall not be. (Maybe.)

Here we goes and stuff.

Please don’t ask.

So. This book. THIS BOOK. This world. THIS WORLD. This magic system. THIS MAGIC SYSTEM. So bloody creative. So bloody unique. So bloody rich. So bloody vivid. So bloody clever. So beautifully thought-out and amazingly developed. It’s funny, this kinda sorta reminds me of an obscure series (by an obscure author) I read years ago. I think it was called the Divine Cities or something. It wasn’t too crappy, if I remember correctly . But anyhoo and stuff. I digress and stuff.

So. In pure, wondrously delicious RJB fashion, RJB (you have a vague inkling as to who I am referring to, I hope?) mixes super extra fast-paced, non-stop action and disgusting emotion with a slightly very gripping-thrilling-lusciously titillating plot, hahaha galore, gloriously thought-provoking stuff and “bloody shrimping hell of the stinking fish!” material aplenty. Yeah yeah yeah, I know, move along, nothing to see here and stuff. I mean, this is kinda sorta what RJB always does in his books. And what he did in the first instalment of this series (somewhat a little brilliantly), too. (The man is cursed, methinks. Well either that or he sold his sold to the devil in exchange for super human writing powers and stuff.)

Yes, BUT. What he does here is even more bloody shrimping amazing than usual. Because he takes the world he created in book 1 where no shrimp has gone before and (choose all that apply) builds on it/expands it/amplifies it/broadens it/whatevers it. And blows your little grey cells away in the process. (Because he is kind and gentle like that.) So what we have here is Foundryside, only ♫ harder, better, faster, stronger ♫. Aka Foundryside, Augmented. Aka, Foundryside, Scrived. Ha! QED and stuff. (You have no idea what this scrived business is about, you say? And? Is it my fault if you haven’t read book 1 yet? 🙄)

Why, thank you for your contribution, funky ladies & gent! It was high time for a groovy intermission indeed!

So. What else? (Say “Nespresso” and see me unleash my murderous kids on you.) The Slightly Deliciously Yummy and Scrumptiously Diverse Cast of Character (SDYaSDCoC™), maybe? I’d already kidnapped adopted some of them while reading the previous installment 👋waves at Sancia and Clef, who are currently enjoying the lavish facilities of her High Security Harem👋, but I think it’s time to be bold and audacious, and do the Group Kidnapping Adopting thing (GKAT™). This I’m doing for completely unselfish reasons, obviously. I mean, all I want is for Sancia and Clef to be reunited with their Scrived Scriving Cronies (SSC™)—or is it Scriving Scrived Cronies? I forget—and stuff. Obviously. It’s not like I’m even remotely interested in Berenice, Gregor, or Orso. (Especially not Orso, since he reminds me absolutely not of my boyfriend Lhiewyn.) Nope nope nope. Couldn’t care less about them and stuff.

Oh, before I forget! Just so you know, this book features one of the most scrumpalicious power couples in the history of most scrumpalicious power couples 👋waves at Cait & Danny Boy👋. It also features malfunctioning gods. Yes, it does. And the bestest, coolest villain ever. (He’s a teensy little bit unbalanced, but that’s part of his charm.) And the mostest awesomest mountain ever (don’t ask). And dull-witted, brainless bastards (yay). And people slightly imploding. And bursting with blood and stuff. Which is always a plus, if you ask me.

Sorry, what? You want more detailed details about the story and characters, you say? Why that’s what other reviewers are there for, my Tiny Decapods.

Sorry, what? This is one of the crappiest reviews ever written, you say? Why, thank you, my Lovely Arthropods. I do try my best and stuff.

Nefarious Last Words (NLW™): oh, I don’t know. A very private, friendly message from this book, maybe?

Yeah, this about sums it up quite nicely, methinks.

Thank thee kindly ever so much to Kathleen Quinlan and Crown Publishing for sending me a advanced copy of this book in exchange for a shockingly crappy review and stuff!

Book 1: Foundryside ★★★★★
· Book 3: Locklands · DNF at 51% 😱😱😱😭😭😭

[Pre-review nonsense]

Now THIS is how you write Fantasy. How you're supposed to, anyway. RJB, I 💕lurves💕 thee and stuff. And now let's dance the night away and stuff.

That's what I call a party! Right, Spockie Dear?

Full review to come and stuff.

[February 25, 2020]

Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!! I have an ARC!!!!!!!!!!! Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!! Someone halp me, I'm having trouble breathing and stuff!!!!!

Ah, that's much better, thank thee kindly and stuff. So? Where were we? Oh yes. I have an ARC!!!!!!!!!!! Let's dance and stuff.

[September 21, 2019]

Bloody shrimping hell of the stinking fish, it's been pushed back to APRIL 2020!

[September 2019]

A scrumpacilious cover we have!! Quite scrumpacilious it is!!!

[March 23, 2019]

Argh!!!!!! It's being pushed back to 2020!!!!!

[December 2018]

Bloody shrimping hell of the stinking fish. We have a release date and stuff.

Oh, and by the way:

Oh, and also:

Profile Image for Samantha.
416 reviews16.7k followers
June 8, 2020
4.5 stars

tw: off screen suicide and some brief suicidal ideation; body horror

This book takes place 3 years after the first book, and is less an action packed sequel and more a sequel about found family, choices, innovation, and the collective. The magical/technological concept of scriving is much more of a focus in this book, and those concepts do slow it down a bit at times. But, the villain and the conflicts he brings up are outstanding. Also the found family and f/f romance feels in here are so strong. There is a bit of a cliffhanger ending and I am excited to see what the finale brings.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
January 23, 2020
This is AWESOME!

No spoilers, no matter how much I want to go on and on about all the great things in this sequel, but I can say a few things.

If you loved how so many wonderful magical goodnesses came out of the magic system in Foundryside, how they could all argue reality out of commission, find new loopholes, reprogram it again, and do it all while being one of the biggest magical heists in modern fantasy, you will totally FREAK OUT when you see Shorefall.

Foundryside was all kinds of awesome and I just re-read it with great joy before picking up this ARC, but I have to admit that Shorefall totally runs with all the implications built up there and gives us DREAD and eventually FIREWORKS that put all that happened in Foundryside to shame.

The big boys (and girls) are back in town. No one is safe.

This book, for all its steampunk feels, is a programmer's dream. The rules make everything shine. But you know what is brighter than this?

The characters.

What a fantastic book! I'm giving it all the praise! :)
Profile Image for Dave.
3,010 reviews331 followers
February 10, 2022
Prepare to have your mind blown to smithereens. Shorefall, the second book in Bennett's Founders series, takes the story and the ideas first posited in Foundryside and doesn't just build on them, but blasts those ideas to the stratosphere. This is a thrilling, engaging, exciting sequel that takes the reader on a strange journey through one of the most unique fantasy worlds ever created.

Tevanne is a city state in this world which is built on the sea and has numerous canals and mountains. It feels a bit like a medieval Venice, but it's not. Great merchant houses rule the city and off in the distant islands are great slave-operated plantations. There are sailing ships and merchant ships.

But, the most remarkable thing is the magical technology. Imagine how well carriages would work if the wheels wanted to turn or if arrows wanted to find their targets or gates wanted to stay closed unless someone with permissions opens them. Commands, like computer codes, are inscribed in gates, boats, lights, and walls, Buildings are strong because the walls want to stay together. This is the source of Tevanne's wealth and the civilization's advances.

And this technology was first discovered by the ancients, the Hierophants, who lived three thousand years ago and wielded powers beyond description. And now something from that past has been awakened from its slumber and it's coming. And, well, nothing will ever be the same.

Part of what makes this series work do well is that the main characters are not superheroes or leaders. Sancia is a tiny little dirty thief who just happens to be scrived, meaning she can hear the scrived doors and walls and gates talk and can argue with their commands. Together with a motley crew of Berenice, Orso, Gregory, and Clef (yes, he's back), its up to Sancia to save the world.

On the way, we learn so much about the scrivings and the permissions and what can be described to alter reality. We also learn about mind control, telepathy, shared minds, trust, fear, love, time, dimensions, horror, and the very fabric of reality.

All in all, an absolutely awesome fantasy novel.
Profile Image for Ginger.
752 reviews370 followers
February 27, 2020
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.

Wow!! 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This book was epic and mind boggling.

Shorefall is the second book in the Founders series and it’s just as good as the 1st book! Not only is the writing amazing, but the characterization in this book is fantastic.

Shorefall starts off 2-3 years after Foundryside.
Sancia, Berenice, Orso and Gregory have founded their own scriving business. They're using the technology to better serve the poor and needy while giving competition to the merchant houses.

But while the group is giving hope and power back to the people, there’s a powerful entity heading towards the city of Tevanne. The gang must drastically change directions and focus on this new threat to save not only the city, but themselves!

Shorefall takes all the great concepts of scriving and turns up the volume. Not just a little bit of volume but enough to blast your eardrums!

Seriously you guys, I felt stupid most of the time while I was reading this. I was just blown away by the concept of reality, how reality would work when changing it or making an object do something completely different.

I don't know where Robert Jackson Bennett gets his plot ideas, but they are deep and fantastic. Bennett has given us an intriguing and fantastic series that takes the fantasy genre in a whole new area. The Founders series is part fantasy, part steampunk and a whole lot of awesomeness.

When Shorefall is over, you’ll realize that Bennett has not only created a new concept such as scriving, but he’s opened up a whole new world of reality and dimensions. Buckle up boys and girls because this will make your mind explode!

And on that thought, I am excited for fans to read this new addition to the series. You will not be disappointed!!
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
June 18, 2020
”’You don’t know how many empires I’ve crushed in my day,’ boomed Crasedes.

As the soldiers struck the walls they just kept screaming, pinned to the stone, and Orso realized that whatever force had pushed them there was still pushing, still growing stronger, pushing and pushing until the soldiers began to collapse, like they were being compressed by a giant, flat surface…

‘Oh my God,’ whispered Orso.

‘The thing that irks me the most,’ said Crasedes, ‘is that you all think you’re so special. So unique. So deserving.’”

He made a gesture, and the crushed soldiers rose to levitate in the air like a mangled wall of human bodies.

And then the wall began to fold inward, forming a ball...which shrank, and shrank…

‘But to be honest,’ said Crasedes, ‘your empire isn’t even terribly inspired.’

There was a long, long silence.

Crasedes hovered in the air, still seated in a queerly meditative position. Then he slowly turned to look at Orso.

‘Well,’ he said. ‘It’s been a long time since I did that.’”

HE is back in town!

The original bad boy of scriving. The maker and shaker of the universe. The man who convinced reality that he was immortal. A man worshiped as a God. The Hierophant who has returned to save humanity from themselves.

He is Crasedes Magnus.

All the petty rivalry between the grand camposes of Trevanne. All the intrigue, jealousies, and the ongoing sigil-striving Cold War for power is all suddenly meaningless. Combined, these robber barons can do next to nothing against Crasedes. Separately, they are mere bugs hitting the windshield of the cosmos.

So you might be asking yourself, what is this scriving you speak of? ”The art of scriving was almost always a two-step process. The first step seemed very simple: a scriver placed a small, imprinted plate on the object that they wished to alter, often somewhere inside it--mostly to keep the printings from being marred. The plate was stamped with a handful of sigils, usually anywhere from about six to ten, and once the plate had been adhered to the object, these sigils would begin convincing it to disobey reality in very unusual ways--hence why this component was called the persuasion plate.”

For instance, someone could scrive a program, for lack of a better word, that would convince a wooden door that it was made of impenetrable steel. This works fine as long as a more talented scriver doesn’t come along and write a program that changes the reality of what the door believes. Maybe the door is now convinced it is made of rice paper, and the scriver, who also is a thief, steps effortlessly through the door and steals the precious objects that someone is trying to protect.

With the proper sigils in the proper order, you can alter the reality of anything and make it do something greater or lesser than its original capabilities.

If your mind feels a little blown, no worries; you're in the hands of the necromancer himself, Robert Jackson Bennett. This book is a product of the art of scriving, and you will magically come to understand everything.

Fortunately for Trevanne, they haven’t managed to destroy the ragtag gang of talented outcasts at Foundryside because it soon becomes apparent that the only hope of sending The Hierophant back to whatever dark corner of the universe he came from will be through the efforts of these genius outlaws.

CLEF is back, the enchanted key that steals the show every time he comes on stage. He is a supporting actor, but for the part he plays, there is no back row chair for him. The repartee between him and Sancia Grado in book one is very entertaining. We find out much more about him in this book and how he became locked inside a key.

Sancia Grado is our reluctant hero, a brain altered ex-slave, who can see, read, and manipulate the invisible sigils around her. She will have to do the impossible once again. She is helped by Orso, her girlfriend Berenice, and the son of one of the leaders of one of the great camposes of Trevanne, Gregory Dandolo. He is cursed/gifted with the ability to never die. When the blue screen of death appears before him, he merely reboots to a previous instance in time.

This is a world where nothing is quite what it seems. Where people are willing to kill for the right piece of scriving magic. Where inventions are conceived to make life better for everyone, but are accumulated by the rich and powerful to use to further enrich themselves, consolidate their power, and in some cases to slaughter their enemies. It is always baffling why there are always too many people who are never content with just what they need.

Their desire for more is never satisfied, and they are willing to crush as many people as it takes to achieve their goals.

It is so annoying that, just as the Foundryside gang has launched a plan to unravel the power and the influence of the great families of Trevanne,... this Hierophant shows up and mucks it all up.

Will the castoffs, the muckers, save Trevanne once again? Will Clef ever speak again? Will humanity be subjugated to Crasedes Magnus? Will anyone survive the coming conflict?

This is an intelligent, mind-bending, gritty version of a world with so much potential to be a utopia, if only the many can overcome the greedy few. The characters are fantastic and are so deftly drawn that they continue to live in my mind in 4K resolution. The twists and turns kept me turning the pages so quickly that sparks were flinging from my fingertips.

***I want to thank Crown Publishing and Kathleen Quinlan for sending me an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.***

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten and an Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/jeffreykeeten/
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,606 reviews1,480 followers
May 26, 2022
Re-read before Locklands I think I enjoyed it just as much. On to Locklands!!!

This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Shorefall is the second book the Founders series. This is a series that builds on the prior books and so you need to read them in order to have any idea what is going on. I actually re-read Foundryside right before jumping into Shorefall since it was one of my favorite books of 2018 and there are a lot of details, I wanted a quick refresher.

Shorefall did not disappoint; Robert Jackson Bennett isn’t afraid to put his characters through some really tough times and hard decisions. You are genuinely scared for them because he isn’t afraid to kill people off or have them make terrible sacrifices.

One of the best things about this series is the world and how it works. It is built on scrivings, which are little rules written into materials that make them do a specific thing or think they are something else. Like wood scrived to think it is as hard as stone, locks that are smart and will only accept specific keys. The entire city has thousands of these all around, forcing reality to believe it is something different.

Now a God-like creature, a Heirophant, who once destroyed most of the world has returned and wants to remake the city into what he thinks mankind should be. Once you find out how a Heirophant was made, it is hard to think anything they want will be good.  If this one gets his way, it will not go well for mankind.
“Ofelia…” said his voice. “You wish to make a moral world, do you not? A just, equitable, sane world?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Yes. Of course you do. And sometimes I find it takes a lot of treachery and death to make a moral world. That is simply the way of things.”

Our cast of characters from Foundryside will be there working together with a powerful tool at their side trying to stop the returning Heirophant.  Sancia can hear and see scrivings; she can even sometimes convince them to change, a trick she learned from a very special key. Sancia made 'friends' with Valeria, a tool once used by the Heirphant to change the world, until the tool became as powerful as the man who made her and went to war with him thousands of years ago. But, should you trust the powerful tool that seems to have an agenda of her own?

I loved the characters in this. None of them are great fighters, well except the former soldier Gregor, but all of them bring something smart and unique to the table. They were a small band trying to break the main houses who controlled the city. They never expected to have to fight an almost god and his most powerful tool.
“I remember the plan,” said Sancia. “I just also remember there’s a lot of spots in the plan that say, ‘Sancia improvises a bunch of shit.’ Which is not, you know, comforting.”

Founders is a series I’m both desperate and terrified to finish. I’ve read other series by RJB and I know that nothing is off the table for him. The conclusions to his stories can be bittersweet for some characters and just down right sad for others. But I never guess what the endings will be and for that I’m always grateful and in the past I have left his series feeling satisfied with the endings.

Another wonderful smart fantasy told by Robert Jackson Bennet and I was really happy that a certain key wasn’t left out of the story since he was one of my favorite things from Foundryside.
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,825 reviews2,186 followers
February 19, 2022
5 stars

I finished this book and was just sitting there thinking “wow, where is this going to go?”. But in a good way.

Three years after the events of Foundryside, Sancia and her friends are doing their best to push along a magical industrial revolution in their city of Tevanne. But very quickly, Sancia is sent a dark vision of an enemy on its way to destroy their city. She and her crew have to work quickly if they want to save lives, but they also don’t know what they are up against.

I love Robert Jackson Bennett’s writing style, his books are so well written and yet are not too difficult to read (considering it’s a 500 page fantasy novel). I dive right into the story and this world he’s created, all of these characters I have come to love and adore and I just get lost in it all. This book didn’t in any way go where I thought it would, plot wise, but also in the best kind of way. I wasn’t ever sure what to expect I was just along for the ride and I am so excited to see what happens in the third book. One of the best newer fantasy series I’ve read in a long time.
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,007 reviews1,326 followers
December 27, 2020
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷

“Every innovation—technological, sociological, or otherwise—begins as a crusade, organizes itself into a practical business, and then, over time, degrades into common exploitation.”

I am going to review both books together in one review because my feelings and thoughts on both books are similar and I won’t be talking much about the plot.

I discovered this series couple of years ago through my fantasy enthusiastic friends. I got really involved and interested lately when I was asking around for fantasy books with hard magic systems and the name of this series popped more than once. I really think the world-building is the thing that stands out most in this series so no wonder why it was mentioned a lot. I usually talk about the world-building the last thing in my reviews but I feel I can’t do that here. Basically, the magic system is like a code language, symbols and scrivings are used to change the law of nature and to make things understand things the way we want. For example, If I convince a ball that the gravity is toward up rather than down then it will automatically fly and float upward. The system is very technical and nerdy and I live for this kind of things. I think the author presented many smart examples and used the potential of the magic very well and yet we have more to discover. If you like coding and rules, I bet you will love the system in this one!!

The writing is good, I feel that due to the above mentioned magic system, it sometimes was rigid and could have used more life to it. I don’t know how to say it properly but it felt clinical and cold and I wanted it to be more alive! But for the most part it was enjoyable and not hard to go through and easy enough to understand the plot and the world. There is another thing that kind of irked me and I may sound a bit like a snowflake but it just bothered me to find something like this in the year 2020, some of the quotes came as homophobic and the word “Fat” was used in a negative context whenever it appeared in both books! Here are examples from book 1 and 2:

He pointed at two soldiers with both hands, and then smashed them together. With a scream, the two men flew together and crunched, like a child taking two dolls of clay and smooshing them into one. He flicked his hands at them, and the mashed-together men fell to the ground.“Fat,” he said, “and sated…and slow.”

“She was not like Torino Morsini, head of Morsini House, who was hugely fat and often hugely drunk, and usually spent his time trying to stuff his aged candle into every nubile girl on his campo.”

Sancia is a well written character and actually most of the characters are. I felt that I should have connected more to them in book 1 but I did that more in book 2 although it was a bit more rigid and that came to me as a surprise. I ended up caring about Sancia and the whole crew.

Summary: Both books were well written with an outstanding magic system that boosted all the other elements of the stories. The characters were realistic and the plot was full of action and surprises. The writing is mostly good, rigid at some points and except for the other criticism I mentioned above, I didn’t have major problems with it. I think this is a series that can be enjoyed by all fantasy fans specially those who love nerdy, complicated magic systems!

“Humankind is most innovative at turning innovation to the cruelest ends. Power alters the soul far more than any innovation I could imagine, even at the height of my privileges.”

Profile Image for Choko.
1,196 reviews2,583 followers
May 27, 2023
*** 4.38 ***

This was so very good! The author put our characters through the wringer and it seems like the worst is still to come for them. Which, of course, is a good thing for the readers, because I am sure we will be in for a great third book!!! Can't wait!!! ❤🧡💛😎
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews602 followers
May 31, 2020
Non stop action packed fantasy with great plot and complex magic system. There was also an ancient creature/god who wanted to remake the world.

“Learn what your city has forgotten,” he said. “What men of power have forgotten time and time again, throughout history—that there is always, always something mightier.”

Shorefall is the second book in this series. The events in this book took place three years after Foundryside. To be honest I'm a little disappointed in this book. Though the comradeship of the Foundrysiders was awesome there was no character development, I expected them to grow more into their role but this book was so action packed that the characters barely had time to grow.

The world building is awesome, I love the depiction. The magic system which is more science than magic was well executed, almost too much, it was confusing in some parts. The writing here is better than that of book one. This is written in third person multiple POV of almost all the main characters.

“Why did we bury this thing in cement, again?” asked Orso.
“Because we wanted to make it hard as hell for us to dig it back up again. Keep going.”
“Oh, Lord…Take me now.” Orso swung the pickax down again and again.

My favourite character is Gregor, his past and how he was scrived was finally revealed and it was way sadder than I expected. Sancia and Berenice are almost the same, just that Sancia is no longer a thief. Orso is still here. Cresedes the villian is a cool character, I like his backstory. It's sad that he thinks he's doing the right thing.

“I’m going to chance it,” said Sancia. “But if I start screaming or something—”
“Run like hell,” said Orso. “Got it.”
“No, I meant come and get me, asshole!” said Sancia. “God!”

The plot is well executed. The Foundrysiders wants to destroy the Merchant houses that rule the city by stealing and giving away their scrive designs. They plan to use that to bring equality to the city, their plans was actually going well then the aforementioned ancient creature ruined it all.
Profile Image for Iryna *Book and Sword*.
436 reviews632 followers
April 22, 2020
Happy Pub Day to Shorefall!

Oh Shorefall, how short have you fallen ( I think I'm so clever). My expectations for this book were higher than high. I kept checking the release date, kept waiting for cover reveal and when I got an ARC for this I literally screamed (happy screams, happy screams).

And now that I have read it - I have very mediocre feelings about it. Because that's what this was - mediocre. Like lukewarm tea, you have to finish because you don't want to waste it.

Ok, that was a bit dramatic, and don't get me wrong Shorefall was not bad, but it wasn't Foundryside good. Foundryside was electric! It was fast paced and exciting, and page turning. Shorefall was, well it just was.

One might say, second book syndrome. But I don't believe in those. Second books are my FAVORITE books (Two Towers, Well of Ascension are some examples). So what happened? Where was the spark? Or, more honestly put, why the absence of a spark?

No spoilers, so when you read Foundryside - you know how it ended. Clef and Sancia were separated. And you know what, their conversations were what makes the book! In Shorefall there's no Clef/Sancia team, there's no banter and you, as a reader, miss it dearly.
There's also the problem of the cast of the book - it is very minuscule. Which can be nice, but for a fantasy of a scale that this should be, it felt lacking. Not to mention that the existing characters I absolutely loved from book 1 were lacking themselves. They didn't feel as multi-demential as they needed to be.

In the end I did enjoy it, and am very still excited for the next book. This one felt like it was setting up for big things. But those things better be big. BIG.

Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,121 reviews30.2k followers
April 21, 2020
One of the very first books I reviewed on my blog was Foundryside, first in the Founders Trilogy. I’ll never forget the experience of reading it. I was invited to read the book then as well, and I’m grateful for that because I was unlikely to pick up a fantasy book on my own. I would have been missing out. Robert Jackson Bennett has legions of fans, and once you get lost in one of his stories, it’s easy to see why.

It’s also challenging to write about Shorefall and this series because I don’t want to give anything away, but I shall do my best.

Shorefall is Sancia’s story. She and her friends have saved the bustling city of Tevanne when it was on the brink of disaster, and she has been assigned a new task, that of starting a magical-industrial revolution. What is the magic? As with Foundryside, the magic is “scriving,” where every day objects are given the ability to feel (i.e., sentience). For years, robber-barrons have kept this knowledge unto themselves, but now it will be available to everyone in Tevanne.

Sancia has an enemy, however. He is using scriving to become something like a god, so he can take over the world. Sancia has to stop him, and in order to do so, she may have to create another god.

Be prepared, dear readers, Shorefall is an exceedingly dark book. It’s also a thrill ride, entertaining, and compulsively readable. The ending is so shocking, I am literally still in shock about it, and it’s going to be a long wait for book three. Well-done, Robert Jackson Bennett!

I received a gifted copy. All opinions are my own.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,147 reviews1,117 followers
April 27, 2020
Yet another case of "it's not you, it's me".

I tried to enjoy this book, I did. I gave Foundryside three stars since I believe there were things that could be better. This sequel just made it worse for me. There were barely sufficient character work for me, except Gregor. Sancia and Berenice and Orso were just there, existed. The gods - my pet peeve in fantasy - were not that interesting and at times even bored me with their overlengthy declarations.

Speaking of overlengthy, I found the book spent too much time with characters explaining things to each other, how they were going to do things, instead of showing the readers when it's being done. It is grating, and made me so impatient. Yes, many readers enjoy these kinds of stuff, but I do not. I like being shown stuff, not being told about the manual prior.

Lack of character work and overlengthy expositions made me felt less invested after every page. Too bad since the world building was cool (I always thought this book is about magical AI programming).

Maybe the book could use some trimming and I'd enjoy it more. Or maybe it's just not for me.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
724 reviews1,202 followers
April 21, 2022
Check out my Booktube channel at: The Obsessive Bookseller

[2.5/5 stars] After dishing out some of my highest praise for Foundryside, I’m disappointed to say I didn’t like Shorefall nearly as much as I thought I would.

Which is surprising considering 100% of the feedback I got after talking about Foundryside was that “Shorefall is even better!” So what has me the grumpy outlier in a sea of praise for this second book? Possibly inflated expectations. Probably an issue with the story components. And definitely a problem with pacing.

The book starts out with mach-10 level of intense action and drama (which, compared to the relative slower development in of the first book is probably why a lot of people liked this one better) and maintained that same level straight through the first 75% of the book, only to be broken up occasionally for some evil monologing. For me the lack of variety meant no opportunity to reconnect with the characters. No slower moments to appreciate the cool inventions of this world. And no time to give my brain a rest between all of the excitement. It felt like one of those fantasy battle scenes where after a while nothing seems exciting because it’s all exciting so it flat-lines and you start tuning things out until a change of pace startles you back in… and like I said, it took about 75% of the book before that happened for me.

In this case, I can’t tell whether the feeling of continuous fast pacing was due entirely to the text. While I felt the unconventional audiobook narrator was a good match for the first book, I noticed in this one that her non-stop edge of panic and intensity for almost the entire novel was hard to listen to. I’m planning a physical read of the final book, so we’ll see if that makes a significant difference. It’s always unpleasant when you feel like someone is yelling/nagging at you for 10 hours straight.

But alas, once I started getting irritated with the pacing and the narration, it was difficult not to nitpick other elements of the story that just were not working for me. There were a lot.

1. I didn’t like the villain. In the first book he was this creepy enigma that I wasn’t even sure would get a significant role in the second book (it felt like finale sort of buildup), but as soon as the mystery was stripped away I found my interest in him waning. I’ve never been a fan of including villain POVs in books unless you’re willing to do a deep character exploration with the perspective. Otherwise they usually come across superficial and cheesy. No exception here. What’s more, the more opportunities they have to explain their grand plans of evil to the main character where nothing actually happens to said character only serves to take away from the suspense of the story. I think there was a good foundation here for mysterious evil workings on the periphery of the story that would’ve worked well, and I for one would’ve enjoyed it better had all the evil plans not been laid bare at every turn. As it was it was kind of stupid.

2. I didn’t like the “whys” behind the plot. I wasn’t on board with WHY these characters had to be the ones to handle the big bad threat and why they seemed completely isolated in handling it. Compound that with some (I feel) stupid decisions, unnecessary risks, and exceptionally far-fetched plans that only work because the story needs them too, and I’m just meh. Even worse, characters who acknowledge they’re taking a calculated risk, then spend 20 pages whining about it in endless dialogue when they’re betrayed… I’m telling you, it was all I could do to get through this book at 2x my regular reading speed. “Just get it over with” is not a mentality you want to have while reading a book you were excited about.

3. I don’t like where the story is going. All the mystery is gone. All the suspense is gone. I don’t have energy for the angst. And I think this is the reading gods punishing me for requesting an ARC of Locklands before having read the second book. I know better than that. I even wrote an ARC Management Guide, then promptly ignored my own rule.

I’m starting to recognize a few of my personal reading biases. Foremost of which is, once a book isn’t working for me, my critical mind sees that as permission to go hogwild in tearing apart every aspect of the story. So I’m always, always, a lot more harsh on things that probably weren’t as bad as I’m making them out to be. If I step back from the emotion of my review for a moment and look at the book again, it’s fine. Perhaps not my cup of tea, but I can see why a lot of people really enjoyed it. Therefore, my rating is coming in at a 2.5/5 stars. Meaning I can recognize that the book was better than “just okay,” but I personally didn’t like it. If I couldn’t see any merit, it would’ve gotten 2 stars or less. That’s probably more info than most of you needed.

Things I liked: Orso is funny as shit. The magic system is still a blast to read about. The physical book is pretty.

Recommendations: I did a complete 180 from the first book here, but I seem to be in the minority from most people who actually liked Shorefall even more than Foundryside. If I came across my own review, I’d still give the book a go lol.

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

Other books you might like:
The Legend of Eli Monpress (The Legend of Eli Monpress, #1-3) by Rachel Aaron The Emperor's Soul (The Cosmere) by Brandon Sanderson The Alloy of Law (Mistborn, #4) by Brandon Sanderson In the Shadow of Lightning (Glass Immortals #1) by Brian McClellan The Book of Jhereg (Vlad Taltos, #1-3) by Steven Brust
Profile Image for Michelle F.
232 reviews68 followers
May 17, 2022
A fairly fantastic second novel that does away with the occasionally awkward tone of the first book in the series. I liked this one.

Having said that, I'm going through a stage where my brain is a bit too flighty for audiobooks, so this is a review that is most fairly left for a second read-through.

I will say that the stakes keep building, and the ensemble cast is really gelling. A few years have passed since the events of the first book, and that added character age seems to have taken this out of the New Adult zone. Also, it allowed Bennett to deal with the romance in a really respectable way.

I know a few things weren't awesome, but I'm not positive that they can't be attributed to my own distraction. I am definitely invested, so hopefully I'll track these down in a physical format, and rewrite this review someday with my better brain in attendance.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews864 followers
December 1, 2021
“Remember the plan,” said Sancia. “I just also remember there’s a lot of spots in the plan that say, ‘Sancia improvises a bunch of shit.’ Which is not, you know, comforting.”

Robert Jackson Bennett -

When I received Foundryside, I was blown away. The story and heroine, Sancia, just clicked all the boxes and made me happy from the start. Robert Jackson Bennett's followup to the Founders Trilogy, Shorefall, took some time for me to sync with. For me, the seemingly nonstop action distracted me from what was cool about this world, its characters and the magic (scriving) system. That said, it was still good and the last third of Shorefall was nothing short of fantastic. 3.75 stars
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,217 reviews2,049 followers
September 26, 2021
The middle book of a trilogy always has its own issues to deal with and I think this one managed quite well. The main characters all came back fighting hard, although I missed Clef who was silent for most of the book.

Sancia is magnificent and has become the most important character in the group as the only one protected to a degree from the Maker. He is an evil being and his powers appear to be total - until he meets Sancia and her team of course. Gregor has a huge role in this book too which pleased me very much.

Most of Shorefall is spent fighting and escaping from the maker. Clef is redeemed, lost and reclaimed. Many people die. And of course there is no resolution because we just have to wait for book three!

A good book which I enjoyed. Looking forward now to, hopefully, a grand finale!
Profile Image for Jessie.
303 reviews1,853 followers
August 16, 2020
Did anyone expect this to be less than 5 stars?
Profile Image for Adam.
374 reviews164 followers
February 27, 2020
“What a critical and crushing thing, perspective is …”

Robert Jackson Bennett is in both an enviable and a difficult situation. He’s one of the most imaginative writers in fantasy today, but that carries a sky-high level of expectation that can be difficult to meet. His latest book, Shorefall, is the second book of the Founders trilogy, and often the middle book of any trilogy is the weakest, so I admit to having some trepidation before starting it. I could not fathom how Bennett could improve upon the unique and deeply-developed groundwork that Foundryside provided while offering deeper dives into the science of scriving, building massive action set pieces, presenting fresh takes on creation and innovation, and stretching the limits of reality without sacrificing character growth, pathos, and heart. Shorefall put my fears to rest in the first three chapters.

And then it started to get really good.

"Humankind is most innovative at turning innovation to the cruelest ends."

Three years have passed since Team Foundryside was formed, and Sancia, Gregor, Berenice, and Orso have help shift some of the balance of power outside the merchant campos of Tevanne. The team has been utilizing their mental resources, newfound time, and combined experience to pull off some daring and magnificent feats. But at the conclusion of Foundryside, Valeria warned of a dire threat that is tied to Gregor’s past. This horror starts to rear its ugly head, and a truly, truly terrifying villain is suddenly only moments away from acquiring the means to manipulate reality itself.

What’s even more horrifying, and it is a credit to Bennett for pulling this off, is that this villain makes a pretty-damn good case for the endgame of his acts of terror.

Along the way, we sink into an even deeper dive of intricate and mind-bendingly creative ways to explore scriving, object sentience, reality manipulation, and what can result when each effect starts to stack upon the other. Somehow, all this chaos makes a beautiful sense, as Bennett never loses sight of placing his characters’ relationships at the heart of it all. Although the lines between objects and living things become blurrier over time, the bonds that this team shares becomes clearer and stronger. But love can be exploited, and these relationships never turn out the way that you expected them to, do they?

“When humanity gains a new tool, what will it become?”

To say anymore about the plot of the story would rob the author of his intended delivery. But I will say that nearly every chapter introduces a clever new wrinkle to the equation that challenges the status quo. By the end of the story, Bennett had built a Jenga tower of theories and ideas that could not be toppled.

Shorefall is a slice of genius slathered with unfiltered madness; it is an innovation on invention. I want to scrive in this world, to create and experiment with Berenice and Orso, to scale towers and improvise with Sancia, to fight battles and defend my friends with Gregor. I loved this book. Bennett is one of the brightest talents around. Read the Divine Cities trilogy. Read Foundryside. Read Shorefall. Read whatever comes next.

9.2 / 10

ARC via NetGalley
Profile Image for Steven.
1,063 reviews383 followers
April 21, 2020
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

So book one had some awesome world-building, a cool magic system, and a budding LGBTQ+ relationship.

This book took all of those things and took them up a notch.

We got further development of the relationship - a LOT further. Like, read it and find out what I mean, but definitely advancement of that.

The world got a little bigger and a little more magical too. We saw Orso, Gregor, Sancia, and Berenice grow closer as a team. The magic got bigger, badder, cooler, scarier. The villains and the heroes get twisted around and around.

I really don't want to give anything away, but let's just say that Bennett took everything I liked about the first book and did it again, with new twists, changes, and growth. This book ended way differently than I expected, which was an added plus!
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,554 reviews2,312 followers
May 11, 2020
(The Founders Trilogy #2)
by Robert Jackson Bennett
This is a book I requested from NetGalley and the review is voluntary. This is a good fantasy adventure that follows book one some unknown time after. It makes more sense to read book one first. I didn't find this one as exciting as book one. It has some of the same characters and new ones too. Like the magic use!
Profile Image for Maisha  Farzana (on hiatus).
551 reviews216 followers
June 27, 2022
Another mind blowing book....

If you love a good heist fantasy with fantastic world-building, unique magic system, amazing cast of characters, found family, talking objects, arresting political intrigues, heart pounding action, surprising twists and a beautiful saphic romance in the background - this series is the one for you.

Set in a city such as Ketterdam , full of menace. An innovative and fascinating magic system like "Mistborn" and "The Bone Shard Daughter". Underlying, tangled political turmoil like "The Lies Of Locke Lamora." This series would have your jaw dropped to the floor. It's THAT good.
Profile Image for Wick Welker.
Author 5 books337 followers
July 19, 2020
A disappointing sequel to what was once a promising series.

Warning: unpopular opinion follows. Just to clear the air, I really love RJB’s books. The Divine Cities is one of my favorite fantasy series ever. He’s a master of speculative fiction and I really enjoyed Foundryside and was excited to sink my teeth into Shorefall. Shorefall, however, was a huge disappointment for very specific reasons.

First, the plot. There’s not a lot of it. You could probably sum up this book in a few sentences. Now, that’s not an inherent problem for a middle book. In fact, I think boring middle book syndrome comes about specifically because the author is stretching the plot thin to get the reader interested enough for the concluding book. It doesn’t necessarily kill a series and I’ve come to expect it often. With Shorefall, however, not only is there little plot but the story is also told in an incredibly tedious way. Most plotpoints happen in dialogue going on in someone’s mind. Let me repeat that: most major plot points and reveals happen as disembodied voices speaking to one another. That is the bulk of this book. Not riveting stuff and it gets old very fast. All these disembodied voices going on made the story and setting feel totally intangible.

The next problem is the magic system. In the Divine Cities, RJB pulls off a stunning magical world by keeping the rules just vague enough to be mysterious but with enough information that the mechanics work within the confines of the logic laid down. With Shorefall, I experienced the most overwrought, clunky and dry magic system I think I’ve ever read. The logic of the magic is explained and then the logic of a variation is explained and then logic of a variation is explained… And it goes on and on. Soon you find that the author is just tacking whatever he wants into the story and just adds more laborious explanations and logic to get it to make sense. It’s a total mess and not fun at all to read. I challenge anyone to coherently explain this magic system to me.

There’s a major problem with the relationships in this story, namely Sancia and Berenice. I’m all for queer love in fantasy but there was ZERO development and romance in this book. It felt like “INSERT QUEER COUPLE HERE” placation to me. RBJ comes up with this “twinning” thing which felt like a nod to queer relationships being soulful or something but it just came off totally contrived. The characters felt extremely static and they all spoke almost the exact same way. There was a glib nonchalance worked into a lot of the dialogue by most of the characters that made them all seem homogenous.

The villain was a total disaster. He was introduced way to early in the story, completely sapping drama and tension from the plot. He was also super powerful, mind reading and all powerful but also limited… for some reason? Oh I guess it was probably explained in all that clunky magic system I read about twenty pages ago I don’t know I wasn’t paying attention because it was so unengaging.

I was also very disappointed in the prose. RJB was a master of prose in the Divine Series, creating powerful scenes with great humor. There was none of that with Shorefall. In fact, this didn’t even seem like it was written by the same person.

I’m sorry to say, I actively disliked this book. I was going to give three stars out of the respect I have for RJB but I can’t. This is a two star book and I will not be reading anything else in this series. If you haven't read RBJ, definitely read the Divine Cities first, it's amazing. Is the cover art as pretty as Shorefall? No. But it's a MUCH better series.
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