Review: Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone

July 29, 2014 3.5 stars, Book Review 25 ★★★½

Review: Full Fathom Five by Max GladstoneFull Fathom Five by Max Gladstone
Series: Craft Seqence #3
Published by Tor Books on July 15, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher
My Reviews in this series: Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

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

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.


Currency has never been quite so important as it is in the Craft Sequence books. Since Your soul stuff is the money and one person is only born with so much. It makes me wonder what happens when someone get dangerously low. What kind of gruesome bankruptcy awaits them should they use their last dregs of soul?

But I’m rambling now – because that isn’t really what Full Fathom Five is about. It’s less so about soul stuff and more about perception of one’s life, surroundings and choices. Or at least it was to me due to the way it followed these two characters who seem to be at pivotal points in their lives.

Full Fathom Five had much more setup going on in the front end with the characters then the previous two books. Keep in mind that you do NOT have to read the first two to read this book. Each of these books have read very much like stand alone novels, featuring new characters and story lines. I absolutely loved the first two books: Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise. I’m sad to say Full Fathom Five didn’t quite have the same effect on me as the previous ones. I’m at a bit of a loss as to why exactly that is other then the fact that it moved so much slower. It’s still a really strong book with excellent characters, a wealth of world building, indeed a world that you just want to fall into, as well as a writing style that literally paints pictures in my mind. So it definitely must be that it took me until about page 200 for the pace to pick up. Up until that point both of the main characters were moving through their lives, one with the plan of running away from her current life, the other trying to figure out what went wrong and the scene was being set and all things were just slowly building up.

KAI – makes fake ‘gods’ (or idols) for clients and does the worshipping of them in their place and has her attempt at saving one of the dying gods foiled by some well meaning co-workers. Damn those do gooders! But hey what was she really trying to do anyways and why did she feel she could do it seems to be what everyone wants to know, especially Ms. Kevarian (cameo appearance from a Three Parts Dead character) the craftswoman/lawyer of the client who the dead god belonged to. Kai hears the god speak at the end of her life when these ‘gods’ aren’t supposed to be sentient or be able to speak. They are created merely as constructs, tools to allow for the storage and contracting of the client soulstuff. This sends Kai on a hunt to try to figure out: is she going insane and has really just been overworking herself as her boss says, or is there something else going on and she was correct in her belief that the ‘god’ could have been saved?

Izza – street urchin, thief and once ring leader of a bunch of other street kids. She is now determined to leave the island of Kavekana before she reaches the age where she might end up inside one of the stone penitents. The penitents are a way of rehabilitating criminals (or pretty much just anyone that steps out of line) – a scary fate to be locked inside one of those things. In scenes where one appears the person locked inside is always crying, wailing, screaming – yeah its amazing when they let people out that they aren’t stark raving mad. Izza is a loyal friend and still cares about all of the children she wants to leave behind but she also wants to look out for herself. When she has decided she is going to leave she runs into Cat who is battling a penitent. Cat is another character who is a reappearance from a previous novel Three Parts Dead. In that novel as well as this one she was a one of the main secondary characters. Cat ends up seriously wounded and Izza hides her and helps her during her recovery for the promise that Cat would take her along once she leaves the island.

Overall, Full Fathom Five was still a really great read, but when I compare it in my mind to the first two it didn’t pack the some punch for me. But that definitely doesn’t change the fact that it was an excellent book and that I’m still eagerly awaiting further books in this world.

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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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25 Responses to “Review: Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone”

  1. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Oi! I would have a hard time if it took me until page 200 to get into it. Sorry this didn’t work quite as well as the others, but given your overall rating for it (meaning even if it wasn’t as good as the first two, it was still quite good), I really need to get with reading Three Parts Dead
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Well it didn’t take me until page 200 to get into it – it just didn’t pick up the pace until page 200. For me there is a difference. So it was just a slower read. Does that make sense?

      If I still wasn’t into it by then I would have given up but its a great read just lots more character building then I think the previous two had. In a way that made it a stronger book but I just my books also on the speed of which I eat through them. If I feel like its taking me longer then I tend to knock stars off for that. Am I weird?

  2. Mogsy

    Well, it’s disappointing to hear that it started off slow, but I still have Two Serpents Rise to read before I get to this one. I have no excuse to put it off now that I have this one!

  3. Wendy B

    Hmmm…. I didn’t like Two Serpents as much as Two Parts Dead, but I’m still curious about this one. And I kinda love the cover and need it for my bookshelf…. *shallow book lover*

  4. Danya @ Fine Print

    It’s too bad that this one wasn’t as fun for you as the others! Never fear – I’m still very excited to keep going with the series. Since they’re all stand-alones (more or less) hopefully one off book won’t wreck it for me. Is Full Fathom Five the final book in the series, or is Gladstone planning another?
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Even if it wasn’t as exciting for me as the others it was still an excellent book. I just can’t give it a 4 or 5 when i didn’t get that level of enjoyment out of it. Was it fascinating and an excellent story though? Yes. I hope you enjoy the first book!!
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  5. Wendy Darling

    I gotta admit, every time I see this title I do a double-take because I keep thinking it’s James Frey’s YA factory, hah. This series definitely sounds intriguing, though I’m sorry this one didn’t quite live up to the first two for you. Hopefully the next one will be better!
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  6. kim { Book Swoon }

    This sounds like a fascinating series, Tabitha. I’m sorry this one, although still enjoyable, was a slower read. The *fake idols* in it and how Kai makes them reminds me a touch of a book that I read, called Servant of Bones by Anne Rice. Something about idols. So, now I’m very curious. Thanks for the wonderful review 🙂
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I read SERVANT OF THE BONES years and years ago – It was about idols? I swear its been so long I don’t even remember anything about that book except that it was a standalone not in the vampire or witches books.

      Yes this was still an excellent read – the 3 just reflects the slower pace and that it wasn’t as high on my enjoyment level as the previous two in the series were.
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