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Four Roads Cross
by Max Gladstone
Tor, $27.99, 414pp
Published: July 2016

This may be the fifth novel in the Craft Sequence, but it is the first one to be a genuine sequel to Three Parts Dead (reviews here and here), the one that started it all; so if you’ve been wondering what became of all your favorite characters in that most excellent story, now you get to find out. Some of the gods and mortals who were central characters of the intervening books have cameo roles here, but essentially this is the story of what happens after Abelard saves the life of his god Kos Everburning, Tara defeats a megalomaniacal Craftsman, and Cat restores the soul of blinded Justice, with help from a vampire named Raz.

Abelard still chain smokes, and still prefers to avoid the company of most people; Tara is in the unenviable position of earning just enough money to activate the payments on her student debt but not enough to pay all her bills; Cat is getting high off of serving Justice instead of being a junkie; and Seril, goddess of Night and Kos’s consort, is trying to build enough of a power base to declare herself again. But when she gets outed prematurely, her existence is construed as an undeclared liability, and that puts Kos and the city of Alt Coulumb in jeopardy. In short order, two very dangerous Craftswomen present themselves to file claims against the compromised god. Now Tara has to go up against her former best friend to defend a goddess she doesn’t even believe in or like.  The servants of Justice and the gargoyles of Seril help, but it is terribly clear that Tara and her allies are outpowered and outmaneuvered, and that’s before the other side brings in zombies and demons!  The struggle that ensues, part court hearing and part epic battle, is an extraordinary test of faith, courage, hope, and sheer cussedness.  Cat and Raz are in the thick of it, and their storyline is one of the best parts of the novel.  Their visit to the realm of the underwater vampires: enthralling!

There is enough resolution to leave the reader delighted, and enough sense of lingering menace to leave you anxious for more.

Gladstone likes to turn tropes inside out, and he has a wry sense of humor that expresses itself in sly puns and allusions.  His writing also has a poetic quality that is profoundly moving.  Some of his sentences leave me breathless they are so lovely, or bring tears to my eyes. Others set me laughing so hard people ask me what I’m reading. This is a truly unique series, with some of the best world building and characterizations in the genre. What Joss Wedon does in TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, and movies like The Avengers, Max Gladstone does in the dark fantasy of the Craft Sequence. – Chris Wozney

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