Shorefall (The Founders Trilogy #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett, #Shorefall, @JoFletcherBooks

ShorefalShorefall is the second book in The Founders Trilogy and is yet again an impressive display of unique storytelling by this incredibly gifted author.

Quick warning – if you haven’t read the first book in the series you may want to avoid this review in case of spoilers (although I do try to avoid spoilers).

Shorefall picks up a few years after the conclusion of Foundryside and gets off to a cracking start as Sancia and her friends are in the thick of an ambitious heist at one of the major Houses of Tevanne. If you enjoyed Foundryside you’ll be pleased to know that your favourite characters are back and they’ve come a long way since the first instalment, setting up their own firm and contributing to significant changes in the city -not least of which is the negative impact on the four ruling Houses.  Things are of course still far from ideal with slavery and exploitation at the outlying plantations and this is something that is about to become intensified as a new threat becomes evident to Sancia due to a dream sequence.

I’m going to be intentionally vague about the plot.  The first instalment brought three key players to the scene and whilst one of those is mainly absent during this book the other two take part in a desperate bid against each other for power involving a lot of hide and seek due to disparities in strength.

Sancia and her friends play a huge role in trying to prevent this latest plot development and although they meet with limited success (or more to the point just barely stay alive) the city is about to be devastated in a most spectacular fashion that clearly sets the scene for the final book.

This is another very good book by Bennett.  An author who is incredibly creative with a seemingly endless array of plots, worlds and magical systems up his sleeve.  His writing is incredibly persuasive and I never find myself in any difficulty at all in imaging either the place or the characters and the magic system at play in The Founders Trilogy is brilliant.  It really is. The use of glyphs placed on objects to tell the object how to behave.  It’s almost stunningly simple and yet I can’t remember ever reading anything like it before.

In terms of the characters.  Well, we have pretty much the same characters as the first book although Clef is largely absent and I have to confess I missed his wit a good deal.  Sancia and Bernice share a very sweet relationship and in fact the themes of friendship are very important to the story here.  We delve a little more into Gregor’s history which is very revealing in terms of the emotional scars he carries and his own reluctance to become involved with others.  His is such a dark and horrible story which makes certain elements very hard to bear although the later developments are incredibly satisfying for those same reasons.  On top of this the hierophant, Crasedes Magnus, plays a large and very creepy part in this instalment.  Assisted by others, his resurrection brings a certain horror to the story that was absent from Foundryside – for the sake of clarify this was not a negative for me. Crasedes is hellbent on transforming the city and only the presence of another character from his past, much weakened and in hiding, can really stand against him.  The problem is,this other character is also very difficult to place any trust in so the whole sorry mess becomes a stark choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, after a rather sparkling start that really got me back on board almost with whiplash efficiency I did find that the plot slowed down a little.  I’m not entirely sure that ‘slowed down’ is the right phrase.  More it became a little dense with explanation of the magic system and (and I did feel similarly in book 1) it just became a little bit too much and slowed the pacing quite noticeably – at least until the last 40/50% when things sped up considerably.  I love the magic system here (I may have already mentioned that), but I felt that I had a good grasp of it and so could have used a little less explanation, plus it felt that as the story really got into the thick of things the ideas and solutions became even more convoluted with more explanations heaped on top.  The thing is though, even though the solutions became ever more fantastical I didn’t ever quite feel enough tension to be sat on the edge of my seat, reading with baited breath to see if things would work out.  Along with this I really sorely missed Clef and his interactions with Sancia.  They helped to lighten the story in No.1 and so Clef’s absence for most of the book felt like a bit of an issue for me.

That being said, and slightly slow feeling to the first half being set aside, this is still an impressive second instalment, it does have a bridging feeling for the final instalment (which promises much goodness I think) but it really does heap on the emotion and I loved the way the characters have developed.  The explorations of friendship and how the povs supported and helped each other was easily the winning element of this story for me.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 4 of 5 stars.