ARC REVIEW: LOCKLANDS BY ROBERT JACKSON BENNETT

STAR RATING: 3 stars 😞
PAGE LENGTH: 496 pages
WHAT SERIES? The Founders Trilogy
WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Foundryside
HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
CONTENT WARNINGS: Violence, blood, death, torture, mentions of slavery

IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, or An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

A god wages war—using all of humanity as its pawns—in the unforgettable conclusion to the Founders trilogy.

Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.

This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.

To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.

Woof. Okay. I finished this book over the weekend while trying to get my teething 10 month old to sleep. [NOTICE: I wrote this review way back in February, when I finished the book. The published asked reviews to be held until 2 weeks before the book comes out, so here you have the review now.] Sadly, I wasn’t a huge fan of Locklands. If you read my reviews of the previous two books, you’ll know how much I enjoyed them. Needless to say, I am vastly disappointed in how this series ended. Those three stars I gave this book is me being generous.

Locklands is a hot mess compared to Foundryside and Shorefall. The prior two books felt like a natural progression. Shorefall raised the stakes the appropriate amount compared to the first book. The villain got scarier, the world got bigger and more dangerous. The characters developed and generally, it made sense that Shorefall followed Foundryside. Locklands’ problem is that it jumps ahead eight years after Shorefall. I generally do not like time jumps in books. They rarely do what the author thinks they do, and instead just make a series feel jumbled up and messy. We see little of those eight years, and as a result, you feel as if you’ve been dropped into the middle of something. You’re left confused and unsure for a while until things feel slightly more familiar.

There is a huge concept in this book that was extremely confusing to me when they first introduced it — the twinning of minds. It technically was introduced in Shorefall, but Sancia and Berenice pushed this even further in those eight years that we don’t see. The whole conversation/explanation in the text is only made more confusing by the diagram that’s included.

I’m really not a fan when authors introduce a phrase/saying/concept in the last book of a series, and then act like it was a huge part of the series from the beginning. Sancia and Berenice use the saying, ‘There’s no dancing through a monsoon,” over and over in this book. I think the author was trying to reiterate it enough to have some emotional impact on the reader. It didn’t really work on me, though it probably would have if this saying had been introduced in the prior two books.

That’s not to say there weren’t parts of this book that I enjoyed — I really, really liked learning more about Clef, who he was, and what he did that brought about literally everything. What a character. He’s deeply flawed, and at first you feel sorry for him, but by the end of the book everything you know about him changes. Crasedes Magnus, and Valeria/Trevanne get some serious character development, too.

In the acknowledgements at the end of this book, Robert Jackson Bennett shares that he wrote this book during the pandemic. I think that’s why this book is the mess that it is. I’m really disappointed in Locklands, and I hate to say that overall, I didn’t enjoy it.

Locklands comes out June 28, 2022.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

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