Necromancy, Living Gods, and Intrigue: Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.

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December 8, 2014

Book Cover

Ha! No sooner do I decide to expand my focus here that I read a book that is SO GREAT that I have to write about it. OF COURSE.

That book would be Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead (disclosure: I’m friendly with both Max and his editor at Tor) which had been languishing on my Kindle for most of this year. I don’t even know what impulse made me open it up this weekend, but I’m glad I did–from the very first page, it’s a hell of a read.

I don’t want to go into a detailed plot summary–to do so, I think, would destroy the delight of discovery, but I will say that for a debut novel–this is extraordinarily accomplished.  The worldbuilding is complex and holds together, the plotting is precise and economical, and I loved all the characters, especially Tara Abernathy.

The other cool thing about this book is that while it’s the first book to come out in this series, it’s actually the third chronologically–there’s a whole post about the chronology, in fact.

This book was really so much fun to read. There’s necromancy and legal maneuvering and hive-mind police officers and poetry-writing gargoyles and gods. The gods might be my favorite part. Or the Deathless Kings. Or the vampires.  Or the temple which is also a power plant (and the maintenance logs are a critical plot point, be still my heart). Or maybe it’s all these details combined with a confident narrative voice and with characters that are compelling and fully fleshed out–you get the sense that these are people with full lives and stories and we’re only seeing a fraction of their complexity here. Love that.

In summary: loved this book. You might love it, too.

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  1. Paul (@princejvstin)

    This is the kind of book that makes you wonder–why didn’t I read this *sooner*?

    • Natalie Luhrs

      SERIOUSLY. I’d heard that it was really good from people I trust and I’m a fan of Max’s bonkers essays, so why I waited so long to read this book is a complete mystery.

  2. Merrian

    I love this series by Max Gladstone, I have even paid enormous prices for an ebook ( over $17/$18aus) to read them all, though there was a Kobo 75% off coupon that helped me with one book. The inventiveness and imagination and how the world holds together is pretty specky and the voices of the POV characters really worked for me as people and particularly people shaped by this world they live in; there is great internal logic to it all which is something that adds up to emotional truth found when reading which is what I need for a book to work for me.

  3. Eric

    If you liked Max Gladstone’s trilogy, you’ll probably also enjoy Robert Jackson Bennet’s “City of Stairs.” The themes are similar: dead gods, reactionaries, war, and politics, among others. But “City of Stairs” is a really solid book in its own right, and well worth checking out if you’re waiting impatiently for a new Gladstone book. 🙂


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