Review: Two Serpents Rise, by Max Gladstone

Two Serpents Rise is the second book in Gladstone’s “Craft Sequence”, following upon Three Parts Dead. Some hundred or so years in the past the people of Gladstone’s world learned to use the “Craft”, drawing upon the same powers as the gods. The gods didn’t approve, leading to the God Wars; and in many parts of the world the role once played by the gods is taking by “concerns”, corporation-like entities, bound by contracts, for which the flow of magic power is like the flow of money in our world.

This story takes place in the city of Dresediel Lex, once the home of a variety of Aztecan deities, but for the past eighty years the home of Red King Consolidated. Where Qet the sea-god once provided water to his people in exchanged for their worship, now RKC does the same for the city’s residents in exchange for minuscule bits of their souls. But Qet’s worshippers are not quite gone; and no truce has been declared; and Dresediel Lex is subject to frequent demonstrations against RKC. And now Bright Mirror reservoir has been infested with demons, and it’s up to Caleb Altemoc, risk manager and trouble-shooter for RKC, to find out what’s going on….

I enjoyed Three Parts Dead very much (and see my review of that book for more about the surprisingly original world Gladstone has created). I enjoyed Two Serpents Rise as well, and will certainly read any follow-on. But Two Serpents Rise is a lesser book, simpler and less surprising. Start with Three Parts Dead.

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