Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone, readalong part 1

And we’re off.  It’s the first week of our readalong for Max Gladstone’s Three Part Dead.  Firstly, if you haven’t already read the book the Q&A below will be rife with spoilers so you might want to step away now!  The schedule and other participants are here and if you want to join in feel free to do so.  We’ve only read the first 100 or so pages so far so easy to catch up.  If you haven’t read the book – we get off to a great start as Tara graduates and is simultaneously thrown out of school.  She almost immediately becomes caught up with Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, a mysterious firm (so far) whose employees seem to use the Craft.  The craft is a magic system and the users so far seem to particularly focus on necromancy.  We’re also introduced to Abelard who’s basically been having a bad time – being a devotee and priest of the God Kos who has basically just died!  Yeah, that’s right – but, did he die or was there foul play??  Anyway, to the questions:

1. Max Gladstone isn’t holding any hands here, we’re dropped straight into the world (which is a bit ironic given the start – but I’ll get to that) and expected to pick up and run with it.  Are you enjoying the style and, more to the point,  what ‘reveals’ have been the most surprising for you so far??

I’m really enjoying Gladstone’s approach to be honest, I actually enjoy reading a book where the world building and history are revealed as we go along so this is working really well for me.  It also helps to give the story a very good pace as it isn’t bogged down with annoying info dumps.  I can’t say I really have a good feel for the world itself yet but we’re only a third in so plenty of time.  It’s a strange mixed up place though.  Vampires – didn’t see that coming at all and you have to hand it to MG for getting the jaw dropping wow factor – wtf with the whole face removal thing!! I mean, firstly, we have a stone man/gargoyle and then we have a crazy assed bit of magic that results in a face being removed from a body and, well, never mind, but take my word for it – it’s a bit mind boggling.  Okay, I’ve not described that very well but that’s basically because I’m still in the shock zone.  I think that was one of the weirdest things, ever!

2. At the start of the book Tara graduates and is cast out of school (literally from a great height) simultaneously – any ideas about why that might be?

I’m really curious about why she was thrown out.  I’m assuming this isn’t a ‘last test’ type of scenario to see whether or not you’ll survive although i suppose it could be – seems a bit harsh though.  Tara does seem like a confident sort and also quite resourceful, she’s also not averse to a bit of creative crafting from what we’ve seen so far so I’m wondering if she veered from the straight and narrow somehow?  We’ve already found out that Elayne Kevarian has taken a bit of a risk in taking her on and that this is only a temporary arrangement pending how successful she is.

3. I’m always interested in the magical systems and how they work and the one here seems to almost be a ‘payback’ type of affair.  What are your thoughts about the magical system so far, we do have a dead deity after all, not to mention it appears that regular everyday people can access magic as well as deities. Discuss please (if only to enlighten my tiny brain!)

I’m still a bit all over the place with the magical system.  We have the Gods who presumably derive their power through the belief system.  They’re much more apparent than your normal deity types.  For example, Kos, being the Fire God, his power seems to underpin the whole working of the City Alt Coulomb and that’s what makes his death such a disaster as quite literally the City will pretty soon descend into chaos.  On the opposite side of the coin we have people who can use the craft – this seems to be soul magic??  That’s about the best description I can come up with so far and I’m definitely interested in reading everyone else’s thoughts on the magic system.

4. We’re only a third in but how are you feeling towards the characters so far. are you developing any favourites already, any sneaky suspicions of any of the characters or are you loving them all?

I like Tara so far, she’s a cool character for sure and not afraid to take risks – or at least she might be afraid but she just gets over it and gets on with what needs doing.  I don’t feel like I’ve really seen enough of Elayne to really make a judgement about how she’ll really turn out although I did like her for coming clean with Tara about her job being reliant on how she undertakes this first job.  I’m really enjoying the character of Abelard though.  He just makes me smile for some reason – he comes across as a bit beleaguered and being dragged into this whole thing reluctantly.  It was interesting to see when he changed into his different togs to go out on the town and find some more help – clearly he doesn’t spend all his time practising being saintly!

Other posts this week:

Lisa – Over the Effing Rainbow
Lauren – Violin in a Void
Anya – On Starships & Dragonwings
Heather – The Bastard Title
Lynn – Little Lion Lynnet’s 
Susan  – Dab of Darkness

20 Responses to “Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone, readalong part 1”

  1. Three Parts Dead Readalong Part 1 | Little Lion Lynnet's

    […] Lynn from Lynn’s Book Blog. You can find this hosting post for this week’s discussion here. […]

  2. Lynn E. O'Connacht

    Yay! The post is up! My thoughts are here. (I may have nicked your summary. But I mentioned it was yours!)

    Tara does seem like a confident sort and also quite resourceful, she’s also not averse to a bit of creative crafting from what we’ve seen so far so I’m wondering if she veered from the straight and narrow somehow?

    I’d assume that, whatever Tara did to get kicked out, wasn’t entirely… on the level. But that’s an assumption based largely on the fact that the majority of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao was opposed to hiring her. That unwillingness has to come from somewhere and Tara strikes me as someone who’d graduate summa cum laude. If tossing people to their deaths was a regular kind of post-graduation test for the school, why is the firm so opposed to hiring her? Getting tossed out of the school to her death is the only thing we’ve seen (I think) that could raise such strong objections across the board.

    For example, Kos, being the Fire God, his power seems to underpin the whole working of the City Alt Coulomb and that’s what makes his death such a disaster as quite literally the City will pretty soon descend into chaos.

    Don’t forget that every contract Kos has ever made is going to fade away at some point. Alt Coulomb is going to be the most affected by Kos’s death since the entire city runs on his, er, soulstuff? but other countries will also feel his loss eventually.

    I like the magic system we’ve seen, though I still don’t feel like I’ve got a particularly good grip on the particulars yet. It’ll be a lot of fun to read on and get to know the system better! I’m looking forward to that a lot!

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I think Tara must have been very naughty!
      I don’t feel like I particularly understand everything about the magic system yet, and like you I’m looking forward to reading more about it. And what about the stone man/gargoyle – that really took me by surprise!
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    One of my favorite authors and one of my favorite series, although each book feels like a standalone. Book #4 comes out this year, so hopefully you’ll love this one and want to read the others.

    • lynnsbooks

      I think we’re hoping to love them and read all three as readalongs, one per month over the next three months. So far so good and completely unexpected things – such as that whole ‘face off’ issue! Crazy.
      Lynn 😀

  4. nrlymrtl

    Haha! Yes! That whole face remomval thing and then putting it on a manequin’s head so it can answer questions! OMG! That was both amusing and disturbing.

    Yep to Abelard and his tight leather pants for visiting the town at night. I wonder just what he hopes to gain from his perpetually drunk friend? Maybe a location for the vamp they are looking for.

    I’m still trying to figure out the magic system too, though I am quite enjoying that. It is interesting to see that Tara and Abelard approach the magic from different places, so there might be more than 1 set of rules, depending on your..uh…faith.

    • lynnsbooks

      I’m really looking forward to the second instalment – I didn’t read on because I get all mixed up about what bits I’ve read where and end up giving spoilers away.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Three Parts Dead readalong part 1 | Violin in a Void

    […] host for this part is Lynn from Lynn’s Book Blog, and I’m going to tackle her questions without further […]

  6. hlmorris85

    It took two or three chapters for me to really get into this, but now that I’m in I’m fully enjoying it. The style was very different than I was expecting…the juxtaposition of magic systems and legalese/bureaucracy is definitely unusual!

    1- I love that we hit the ground running, the pacing seems really on point so far. That face-stealing scene was bonkers. Definitely the scene that made me sit up and pay attention. I gotta say that the inclusion of vampires seems like an outlier so far, an element that doesn’t really seem to fit in with the rest of the world at all and hence feels kind of odd to me. Hopefully that will change.

    2- Tara seems like she has a low bullshit tolerance. She seems to operate completely on confidence and her own logic, without worrying about consequences or social niceties. Which is awesome to see in a female character, honestly. But it’s easy to see how she could get in trouble.

    3- The transactional magic system is honestly quite confusing to me so far, but it certainly is original. I like worlds with “hands on” gods like this.

    4- I’m really interested in Kevarian. I want to know what her deal is so badly. There hasn’t been a character yet that I didn’t like…and at the end there, Abelard surprised me, so it will be fun to see where he goes.

    • lynnsbooks

      Sorry for delay getting back to you – I thought I’d responded but clearly didn’t press ‘send’.
      The face stealing thing just came as such a surprise. Don’t think I’ve ever read anything like that – and it also demonstrated something about Tara – one, her quick thinking and two, her ruthlessness – I mean just whipping out your knife and removing somebody’s face – I know he’s still alive but even so!!
      I think Abelard will be a surprise. I don’t know why and I’m probably wrong but somehow I expect to like him.
      Lynn 😀

    • nrlymrtl

      That steal-a-face trick was crazy! I wonder if it is something taught at the Hidden Schools, or something Tara put together on her own? Ugh! can you imagine the trial and error!

      I am very much enjoying Tara’s character, and part of that is her low tolerance for BS. Hooray! Of course, this probably also lands her in more trouble too….which makes for interesting plot lines. So, Hooray! again.

      • lynnsbooks

        I can’t wait to see what happens and how it all comes together!
        Lynn 😀

  7. Anya loves dragons (@OnStarshipsBlog)

    I totally thought it was a last test type of thing until she made references to being imprisoned! If you can make it alive out of magic school, great! if you can’t then they don’t want you free in the world? It made sense at the time 😉

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I was thinking it was a bit harsh – suppose it would keep magic users numbers restricted!
      Lynn 😀

  8. Lauren

    I definitely think Tara veered off the straight and narrow during her studies. She certainly seems like the curious type who isn’t afraid to take initiative.

    If I have a chance I’d like to look over my highlights and get a better grasp of the magic system. I’ve never come across anything similar. I love the mix of science, magic and business.

    I was really glad to see Abelard change into tight leather pants and a shirt 🙂 He’s sweet, but the naive, pious acolyte thing can get a bit boring. It’s good to know that there’s more to him, which seems to be the case with most of the characters so far. A sign of a good writer!

    • lynnsbooks

      I think Tara perhaps just sometimes jumps in first and asks questions later.
      The magic is definitely unique – I’m keen to see how it pans out – being a God sounds like hard work what with the fully city being dependent and all the other contracts coming and going.
      And I’m looking forward to seeing how Abelard develops – I think there’s definitely more to him than we were first led to believe.
      Lynn 😀

  9. » Special Guest Paradoxes! max gladstone

    […] definitely go and give them a shot.  Here are some links to the first third of the readalong: Lynn’s Book Blog, Over the Effing Rainbow, Violin in a Void, On Starships & Dragonwings, The Bastard […]

  10. Art it Up: Dreamer’s Pool | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] My recent reading includes the first part of Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead (as part of a readalong), His Own Good Sword, by Amanda McCrina Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell and […]

  11. Face off! | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] My recent reading includes the first part of Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead (as part of a readalong), and The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan.  If you’ve read Three Parts Dead I hope […]

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