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I Belong

Review: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Title: Three Parts Dead

Author: Max Gladstone

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Science Fiction

Series: Three Parts Dead (Book 1)

Publication Date:

Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages

ISBN-10: 0765333104 (Tor/Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-0765333100 (Tor/Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Kristie


A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.

Set in a phenomenally built world in which justice is a collective force bestowed on a few, craftsmen fly on lightning bolts, and gargoyles can rule cities, Three Parts Dead introduces readers to an ethical landscape in which the line between right and wrong blurs.

Quick & Dirty: An intensely creative world and descriptive writing make Three Parts Dead a must read for fantasy fans.

Opening Sentence: God wasn’t answering tonight.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Humans have mastered the powers of a god. Craftsmen and women train for years to harness their soulstuff (powers). Tara Abernathy has been given an early graduation from the Hidden Schools and thrown back to earth to for an unknown reason (which is later revealed but I’m not spoiling that!). Tara has an affinity for raising the dead so it doesn’t take long before she is recruited by Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao for a big case, to raise a dead god.

Kos Everburning has recently died and before long his magic will begin to wear off leaving the city of Alt Coulumb in the dark unless Tara can raise him in time. Tara gets sucked into an investigation with a chain-smoking priest named Abelard. She learns all about the underground world of Alt Coulumb which includes gargoyles and a Justice (police) who is addicted to the bite of a vampire.

Three Parts Dead is essentially a courtroom drama and Tara is a lawyer trying to prove why the Kos Everburning should be raised from the dead. Much of the drama and some action take place in the courtroom but there is plenty of action, mystery and intrigue built throughout the entire story that will keep you glued to this novel. The story is told through the eyes of several different characters as they each have a part to play in the resurrection of a god. Each character does come off a little full of themselves but with the power of a god it is kind of expected but not Abelard, he is a dutiful priest and even sticks up for his god when needed, especially when Tara doesn’t understand and she doesn’t understand quite often. Everyone has their own mystery and secrets that they don’t want revealed.

Three Parts Dead is filled with overly descriptive information that you can clearly see this clever world but sometimes may have to reread a paragraph or two to pick up all the details. Max Gladstone has created a magical new world where gods powers are limited by the deals they make with humans, vampires aren’t quite what they seem and gargoyles are the enemy or are they? There are some steampunk elements to the story but I wouldn’t label this a steampunk.

Overall, Three Parts Dead is a deep, heavy read for those who like fantastical new worlds. The sequel Two Serpents Rise will be out next June. I will definitely be picking up the sequel. I can’t wait to see what is next in this world. I hope to see more of Tara since she has already done some growing up in the space of one novel.

Notable Scene:

None of the contract holders with claims against Kos Everburning had come in person, unsurprising considering that they were Deathless Kings and other gods. They would send envoys in the coming weeks to observe negotiations, but for now they merely hung immanent in the air about the desk to the right of the circle, where Alexander Denovo sat alone in his tweed jacket. His attention was bent on a yellowed scroll, and he didn’t seem to notice Tara’s arrival.

She had expected to feel more upon encountering him for the first time since her graduation: a dryness in her mouth, anger curling like a fire in her breast, a sour taste at the back of her throat, the bright purple pulse of fear behind her eyeballs. When she saw him, though, she just felt dead.

“Tara?” Abelard’s voice. Focus on it.


“You looked funny for a second there.”


“Scared, almost.”

“Not scared.” She wasn’t sure what she was feeling, but it wasn’t fear. Fear was weakness, and if she had been weak, she would have died a long time ago. “But almost.”

Three Parts Dead Series:

1. Three Parts Dead

2. Two Serpants Rise (July 23, 2013)

FTC Advisory: Tor/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Three Parts Dead. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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