[Review] Three Parts Dead  by Max Gladstone

Feb 19 2021

This is a book about investigating the murder of a god, where necromancy has become formalized under legal procedures.

I really wanted to like this book, especially because I paid for it, but I dropped it around 1/3 of the way through. I’ve heard that this novel is Gladstone’s weakest, but I can’t say I like his style very much.

Link to Goodreads page

For some reason I couldn’t connect with the protagonist, especially because she insisted on being agnostic despite the existence of literal gods, and having a side character go through a faith crisis at the same time was too hammy. I’m not particularly religious but saying something to the effects of hand-waving gods is ludicrous. It would be like me saying, “Nah, Isaac Newton wasn’t that smart or significant,” and being completely serious about it. I get that the gods in this world are weak and actually more mortal, a la Greek Titan style.

The action wasn’t picking up to my liking. The author oozes world building, and it’s too dense with observations and worldbuilding combined. Conversations would have introspection overdose dropped in the middle and I’d forget what they’re talking about. Especially because the theme involves fantasy legalese, I drowned in either too much dialogue or too much worldbuilding. I seriously wondered if I was as smart as I thought I was, as I spent much time backtracking, not because I wanted to.

Three paragraphs were spent describing whether a character felt like opening a letter. And every. Interaction. Is like this.

So with that being said, the prose itself is sophisticated and well-written, barring pacing issues, and it’s clearly had a lot of thought put into the logistics. The fantastical elements are utterly fantastic! It’s just too much of a slog for me.

Verdict: 3 / 5

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