'Full Fathom Five' - Book Review

The third book in Max Gladstone's Craft series, following "Three Parts Dead" and "Two Serpents Rise." Gladstone continues with the impressive world-building and the slightly hallucinatory combination of religion, magic, and technology. As he puts it in the afterward, "Every book's a journey - sometimes you go to Hawaii, sometimes you go to Mordor. For this book I did a bit of both." Our main character is Kai, a priestess at a factory/temple that builds idols. The idols are essentially non-sentient gods, which means that in his mythology ... they're essentially off-shore, non-taxable(?) bank accounts. Although they require worship and good handling and deposits of soul. Which all undoubtedly sounds weird if you haven't read any of his books, but it really works. Kai's problem is that she tried to save an idol as it died as a result of bad investments ... and while she's recovering from that near-death experience, her company side-lines her. We also follow the story of Izza, who is the story teller of a small band of street kids in the same city as Kai. They seem to have had a series of small gods, who helped them - on an island that is officially free of all gods. And Izza is helping Cat (who was in Three Parts Dead), who's recently arrived on the island on an unexplained errand.

An academic somewhere could write a long and very interesting paper about Gladstone's views on police. In the first book, "Justice" is a group of people who are linked to a semi-sentient authority, and essentially controlled by it. But Justice isn't actually very good at looking at the facts, and the off-duty Justice workers tend to have horrible addictions because going off-duty is a wickedly bad come-down. The portrayal of the police in the second book is the most positive of the lot: on duty, they're only semi-human, they're heavily fortified ... and still seriously outgunned. In this book, we have the Penitents: these are three metre tall stone giants that enforce the law, each of which has a person trapped inside - being punished - for months or years: and they scream in pain the entire time. He's very inventive, but I wonder about his views on justice and the police.

Anyway, another good book. I've had the impression that the next will be the last in the Craft series. I hope so, although this is one of those very rare cases where I think he could actually continue to mine this idea further.