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