Tuesday, October 23, 2012

REVIEW: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Three Parts Dead Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Long Review

Three Dead Parts defied my expectation. I took a risk on this seemingly boring book and it paid off!

I thought it was Urban Fantasy because of the blurb and cover.... Okay, mostly because of the cover. And technically it wouldn't be inaccurate to say it is because there were vampires and Craftsman (mages), a kick-ass heroine and a chain-smoking hero among many parts of the book.

However, the book was Fantasy. TDP was set in a completely different world where gods and godly Craftsman rule. From the world-building to the plot to the character, everything was intricately and deftly developed. This book wasn't a typical fantasy, it had layers enough to arguably proclaim it as epic.

Fantasy. Urban Fantasy. However you personally classify it, TDP was a damn good book.

Slow Beginning

The beginning was slow and sort of confusing; the book relied on action and dialogue for the world building. Truth be told, I would have liked some info-dumping even though that is lazy writing. Scenes didn't connect, their purpose wasn't revealed, till the characters met and gathered in one place, the city of Alt Coulumb, where the story took place.

Multiple PoVs

The multiple 3rd PoV was another big reason for the slow beginning. Just when things started getting interesting, the story switched to another PoV to another part of the plot. Fortunately, the switching ceased to be annoying once I grasped the plot and I warmed up to the characters.

The Characters

+++ the protagonists

Tara and Abelard’s PoV were the dominant PoVs, and I enjoyed reading their side. Tara was everything I want in a kickass heroine: confident but not conceited, courageous not foolish, smart but not a know-it-all. Tara had none of those negative traits so frequently inflicted on Urban Fantasy heroines to make them flawed and real. Not to say Tara was perfect, but she was refreshing to follow.

I expected Abelard to depress and annoy me because his god died at his watch. Talk about a crisis of faith, especially when Abelard is fresh into the priesthood as a novice. The man had all the wrapping of a self-tormented, emo hero thrust into a situation beyond his capability. In short, a typical Urban Fantasy hero. Yet Abelard took actions on his own initiative. He helped Tara; he learned about the world beyond and the things in his city he never noticed before; he fought the bad guys when the bad guys ambushed the good guys.

+++ the side characters

It wasn't just Abelard; everyone had the potential to be emo. There was the pirate dude who didn't became a vampire by choice, the junkie who was addicted to the rapturous bite of a vampire because she was supernatural police for a pale imitation of dead Goddess, the Cardinal whose God died and religious order was dying. Apparently, the loss of the connection to the divine messed up most of the characters in the book.

The one character I didn't care for was Shale. His PoV could have been done without because it was confusing and seemed to be mere filler. Not that his role in the plot wasn't important, but his part would have made the same impact if it was observed or discovered by one of the dominant PoVs.

My favorite character was Kevarian, Tara’s boss, because, beside being a powerful Craftsman, she was one of those people who plan many steps ahead and well.... Suffice to say I was very glad she was one of the good guys. She is not a person to trifle with. If you think you won against her, think again... that is if you even have the luxury of minutes to reflect on where you failed before you die a horrible horrible death.

+++ the bad guys

The book had two villains. One villain was unknown and our protagonists had to discover who it was. And it wasn't a big surprise when I found out at the end. That villain was a cliché.

The other villain was introduced in the middle of the story and he was scarier and more powerful than the unknown villain. He was a manipulative deceitful megalomaniac who wanted to be the ruler of everyone and everything he could grasp. No surprise that it was Kevarian’s ex-boyfriend and present nemesis.

The Writing

The writing was little too elaborate for my liking because sometimes the imagery was overwhelming and I skimmed to get to the action or dialogue part of the scene. Thankfully, the prose was pretty clear so I always knew what the characters were doing even if I didn't know why they were doing it.

+++ the pacing

The pacing eventually picked up by a third of the story. Once Tara and Abelard started their investigation, I had a good grip on the plot. The story picked up more speed once the Megalomaniac Mage (my nickname for him) came in and the characters were in a rush to solve the mystery before Megalomaniac Mage thoroughly trapped them in his schemes.

+++ the ending

The story didn't fail to give me a satisfactory ending after an awesome climax. No sireee. It was satisfactory. Very satisfactory. I especially loved what Kevarian did to the Megalomanic Mage in the end. Let’s just say there were no loose ends left to be resolved.

Smorgasbord of Genres

When Tara and Abelard examined the fire god’s body, they gave me the impression that the story was CSI, an American TV crime show. Then in the middle of the story, it became like a lawyer show, except everyone could use magic and play underhandedly. It was essentially a fight for survival.

There was a religious element to the story but it wasn't overbearing. It was, however, a cliché that a big religious order was suffering corruption and opulence. But then again so was every big organization that existed in the story. From the magic school that didn't do expulsion so it graduated Tara and kicked her ass out literally from the sky, to the powerful firm of cutthroat Craftsman who handled cases of god-related matters. The book had themes of power, bureaucracy, and corruption.

In Conclusion

I rate Three Parts Dead 3-stars for I liked it. I’m glad I kept reading the book despite its slow and confusing beginning. The ending left me with a glow of joy. I would look forward reading a sequel if there was one.

Recommended for readers who want an urban fantasy to be heavy and epic on the fantasy side.

Amazon GoodReads

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