The first book (or the third book in the internal chronology) of the fantasy Craft Sequence series. It was part of 2017 Hugo reader packet so I’m including it in the mount TBR challenge.

Publication year: 2012
Format: ebook
Publisher: TOR
Page count: 334

Kos Everburning is the last living god in the city of Alt Coloumb. After the God wars there aren’t any others left. Abelard is His technician, a junior priest who usually tends the fires of boiler room which gives warmth and energy to the whole city. Kos is the god of fire and without him the trains don’t move and steam engines will die. Then Kos doesn’t answer prayers anymore.

All Tara Abernathy ever wanted to be is a Craftswoman, a powerful sorcerer. When, after years of study, she was literally thrown out of the Hidden Schools, she must build her life again. She returns to her rural home and tries to fit into the sleepy town where people are afraid of anyone using magic. When raiders hit the town, she just wants to help her parents and the other townspeople, but they don’t want her there. Fortunately for Tara, a powerful Craftswoman Elayne Kevarian appears and offers her another option: become a junior associate in the very powerful and old necromantic law firm Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao. The offer is, of course, only valid if Tara can perform well on her first job which is to resurrect the last living God who has been murdered.

Tara needs to find out just what happened before Kos died. Also, Judge Cabot was murdered around the same time and Tara thinks that the events are linked. The young priest Abelard is horrified to heard about the death of his God but is assigned to help Tara.

Tara is a very determined and ruthless woman. She’s also very good at her job as a Craftswoman. Still, she also needs to be a detective to crack this case. She’s never been to Alt Coulumb and worships of gods is familiar to her only on an abstract level. Abelard is at his home but the foundations of his life have been shaken. He’s somewhat reluctant to work with a godless woman but is, of course, willing to help in any way. He chain-smokes constantly. This is his habit from serving a fire god but now he also feels the bad side effects from smoking. Apparently, when Kos was alive, He did away with the side effects.
Oh, no romance is even implied, which was great.

Along the way, we meet some other characters, such as Tara’s former teacher, a vampire pirate captain, and servants of blind justice. Lady Kevarian is another very efficient and ruthless woman who has been a Craftswoman for decades. She’s mostly a mentor figure but we also get her POV briefly. My favorites turned to be the gargoyles who were the servants of a goddess who is now dead. The gargoyles, Stone Men, were the city’s guardians while the goddess was alive and now they’re considered little more than animals. Now, the guardians of the city are the Blacksuits, ordinary men and women who are sometimes, when needed, overtaken by the will of the goddess of Justice. I found them fascinating, as well, especially since the goddess of Justice is a recreation of a dead deity.

Alt Coulumb is definitely a modern city with driverless carriages and steam trains, not at all like a Middle Aged or Renaissance city. We get to see mostly the seedy underside of the city, the clubs, warehouses, and the harbor. In contrast is the Church of Kos with quite wealthy-seeming priests and junior technicians. The magic, or craft, feels like a science with precise rituals and tools needed to do it.

The plot is fast-paced and the world is fascinating. I enjoyed the characters, too.

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