Welcome to this sixth, and final, part of #TheCraftBuddies buddy read of Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence! For this read, I am teaming up once again with Marzie’s Reads and guest commenter, and friend of the blog, Jenni.
The Ruin of Angels is book six in The Craft Sequence if you read the books in publication order, and the sixth book chronologically. We’re reading the books in publication order for this discussion.
Before we jump into the review and discussion, here’s the publisher’s synopsis:
The God Wars destroyed the city of Alikand. Now, a century and a half and a great many construction contracts later, Agdel Lex rises in its place. Dead deities litter the surrounding desert, streets shift when people aren’t looking, a squidlike tower dominates the skyline, and the foreign Iskari Rectification Authority keeps strict order in this once-independent city―while treasure seekers, criminals, combat librarians, nightmare artists, angels, demons, dispossessed knights, grad students, and other fools gather in its ever-changing alleys, hungry for the next big score.
Priestess/investment banker Kai Pohala (last seen in Full Fathom Five) hits town to corner Agdel Lex’s burgeoning nightmare startup scene, and to visit her estranged sister Ley. But Kai finds Ley desperate at the center of a shadowy, and rapidly unravelling, business deal. When Ley ends up on the run, wanted for a crime she most definitely committed, Kai races to track her sister down before the Authority finds her first. But Ley has her own plans, involving her ex-girlfriend, a daring heist into the god-haunted desert, and, perhaps, freedom for an occupied city. Because Alikand might not be completely dead―and some people want to finish the job.
Before my reread of the series, I’d claimed that The Ruin of Angels was my favorite of the series, but Four Roads Cross has claimed that title, now that I’ve reread the whole series, putting The Ruin of Angels in second place.
The Ruin of Angels is a very different book from the first five Craft books. Max Gladstone has described it as the first of the second phase of the series, which hopefully means more books to come, though none have been announced.
It’s a very personal book, and ultimately a book about the nature of cities, which can feel like two separate things, until we circle back to the idea that a city is different to different people. A city can mean and be different things to different communities, and there is no one face a city wears. There is no one vision of a city, and to impose a singular vision of a city on all of its citizens is to deny those residents citizenship.
It’s also a fast-paced, nail-biting heist. The ultimate prize is knowledge, libraries and freedom, stolen right out from under the reality of one city, and one authority’s noses. The heist element is fun and frustrating at turns.
It’s also a story about relationships and how those who love us the most can also hurt us the deepest and that good intentions don’t always matter when the result is pain.
Fair warning, our discussion beyond this point is *FULL* of spoilers.