Review: Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone

December 16, 2013 5 stars, Book Review 9 ★★★★★

Two Serpents Rise

The new novel set in the addictive and compelling fantasy world of Three Parts Dead

Shadow demons plague the city reservoir, and Red King Consolidated has sent in Caleb Altemoc — casual gambler and professional risk manager — to cleanse the water for the sixteen million people of Dresediel Lex. At the scene of the crime, Caleb finds an alluring and clever cliff runner, crazy Mal, who easily outpaces him.

But Caleb has more than the demon infestation, Mal, or job security to worry about when he discovers that his father — the last priest of the old gods and leader of the True Quechal terrorists — has broken into his home and is wanted in connection to the attacks on the water supply.

From the beginning, Caleb and Mal are bound by lust, Craft, and chance, as both play a dangerous game where gods and people are pawns. They sleep on water, they dance in fire… and all the while the Twin Serpents slumbering beneath the earth are stirring, and they are hungry.

Two Serpents Rise takes place in a world where a host of gods really does exist and magic is real. So I ask you: what would you do? Why conquer, kill and enslave those gods of course! Ok well somebody would, especially if your loved ones had been sacrifices…

In a massive modern city Dresediel Lex runs on craftpower instead of divine power and a company called RKC (Red King Consolidated) provides the much needed water to everyone. Before the god wars this desert city by the sea got their water from the gods via human sacrifice. With the gods gone that needed a new source of water. A craftsman, turned Deathless King who defeated the gods stepped up and took over many of the duties of the old gods. His company thereby providing for the city.

You could actually read Two Serpents Rise without having read the first book Three Parts Dead because both books follow a completely different cast of characters. While it’s nice to get the history, the gods that are present in either book and their forms of religion and worship are also very different. In this particular city/region their gods seem to crave blood and sacrifice. In the city Alt Coulumb, simple worship seemed enough.

We start off right away meeting Caleb who works for RKC in risk management. His life has gotten pretty dull and boring lately but all that changes one night when one of the city’s water supplies is poisoned with demons. Caleb encounters a thrill seeking cliff runner named Mal at the site and gives chase. There is admittedly quite a bit of chasing that happens between these two throughout the book. Zowwy, zing I say!  I have to tell you in Max Gladstone’s first book, Three Parts Dead there was no romantic element (as pointed out to me there really couldn’t have been because the book takes place over such a short amount of time, it just wouldn’t have fit).  But Two Serpents Rise spans months and its nice to see how the author handles the building of a relationship.  I loved seeing the interaction between these two. You could feel the sparks and yet in no way did it dominate the story.

What I loved about Caleb was how stubborn he was. He is the son of the last Priest of the old gods. Having been raised by a religious zealot definitely had an effect on him. He is VERY against religion and has every reason to be.

The characters in this story as well as the city itself are given such great attention that at times I felt like I really knew Caleb. One of my favorite aspects was the way the city itself was described. I found myself wishing I could plug a projector into my brain so the wondrous pictures could be painted for me to really see them because no way could my imagination have done it justice. It was just that amazing. Skyspires instead of skyscrapers, airbuses instead of a regular bus, people ferried around by flying creatures (either sitting on them or with the creatures attached to their backs)…there simply was no end to how amazing Gladstone made this world sound. Someone take my soul now I want a gosh dang ticket to this place.

As I learned from reading Max’s first book, Two Serpents Rise is definitely fantasy but it doesn’t fit snugly into any category – he’s mashing in all sorts of feelings from different subgenres. Heck I don’t think I’ve ever read a fantasy refer to a man’s boxer shorts. In so many ways he makes this world so much like our own that you immediately feel comfortable in it, and yet are still continuously awed by the differences.  I believe the main element to this story though, is the mystery. There is a big whodunit here that you get to experience right along with Caleb. And for me it was the best part. I didn’t even bother speculating, I just kicked back and enjoyed the ride.

I can’t possibly recommend this book or fresh new series enough. One thing is for sure Max Gladstone is now one of my favorites.

Read my Review of Book 1: THREE PARTS DEAD

Be sure to come back tomorrow for my torture interview session with the author, Max Gladstone!

Two Serpents Rise (The Craft Sequence #2)

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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9 Responses to “Review: Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone”

  1. Nathan (@ReviewBarn)

    Ironically, even though Dune started the fantasy trend of “powerful group keeps control through water in a dry world,” I hated Dune and love most of the books that borrow the idea.

    Of course this series was already on my TBR list after the first book got glowing reviews EVERYWHERE, but a water controlling company makes it more likely to be a good fit. Weird? eh, maybe.
    Nathan (@ReviewBarn) recently posted…Fantasy Review: ‘Feet of Clay’ by Terry PratchettMy Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      You hated Dune?!! Oh jeez I loved those books which I read. I can’t remember where I left off exactly but I believe I read all of the ones written by Frank Herbert himself and then maybe the first of second that was continued by his son.

      Yes, You definitely need to read this series – I think you will really like it!!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I think what really makes this so great for me is that it’s a new city, different characters. I am loving the stand alone feel. Max said he’s trying to do that – where you don’t have to have read the other books to enjoy. Each will be their own book you know. Definitely beneficial to read the preceding but not necessary. Can’t wait to see what you think!

  2. H. Anthe Davis

    Color me likewise glad to see that book 2 is coming off as well as book 1. I loved loved loved Three Parts Dead, and I’ll probably dive into Two Serpents Rise as soon as I whittle down my huge pile of library books. Whew. Nice review!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Me too! I loved it so much that I both read and listened to it on audio. Which I really loved the narrator for the audio. I hope you’re able to get to it soon – like I said I think Max is now among my fav authors. I can hardly wait for more!