The Craft Sequence Buddy Read and Review of Book Six: The Ruin of Angels

It seems impossible that our six months long Buddy Read of The Craft Sequence is drawing to an end. The sixth book offers a lot of succor though, being the longest and most complex in the series! Here's my review:

The Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Ruin of Angels is the most recent entry in The Craft Sequence and it feels different in tone from the previous five books. Longer and more complex, I feel like the Sequence has entered Act 2. The topic Gladstone is tackling here deals with history and competing cultures. While I was reading it, I was reminded of a great historic city like Jerusalem, where you have Temple Mount with the ruins of the First and Second Temples and Al-Aqsa. With issues of religion, language and basic culture, the delicate balance and occasional outright hatred between two cultures superseding one another are captured in a similar-feeling tone in Agdel Lex and Alikand, the former built on, literally, the ruin of angels. 

I was frustrated in this book by one of the central characters, Kai Pohala's younger sister Ley. You can check out my thoughts in the Buddy Read discussion of this book below.  My frustrations were outweighed by my enjoyment of the rest of the book, in particular, the presence of Issa, who we first met in Full Fathom Five and of course, Kai and Tara. Izza has matured and evolved. New characters Zeddig, Gal and Raymet were rich and unique. Each woman has their own unique code of honor. Gladstone has also introduced an intriguing and charismatic new male character, Jax, who I think we will see again in future books. He ominously warns of forthcoming global disaster, due to climate and resource issues. Isaak, a male friend of Izza's from her earlier life in Agdel Lex, was a character with a lot of pathos. 

All in all, a book I loved. My real question is, it's been almost a year since this book was published. When will we be graced with more Craft Sequence?!

So let's get down to Alex, Jenni and I, discussing this great entry in the series. You can read Part 1 of the Discussion over at Alex's blog here.


Temple Mount, Architectural Digest

Alex, Jenni and Marzie's Discussion of The Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone, Part 2.

Part 1 is here.

Marzie: So you know I won’t get very far without mentioning Elayne, who is painfully absent in this book. But wasn’t the scene where Tara thinks of Elayne, as she struggles to save Alikand, a great echo of Elayne’s actions in Last First Snow?

Alex: Yes, that definitely had the echo of Elayne there, without feeling like a complete knockoff.

Marzie: I loved that moment.

Alex: What did you think of Jax? He was an interesting character and struck me very much as an Elon Musk sort.

Marzie: I didn’t… trust him. Not sure I do even now. I wonder if Jax is a character we will see in future books?

Jenni: Well, I would imagine so. He was the one to raise the specter of planetary destruction and the metaphor for climate change, so if that is as real a threat in Max’s world as it is in ours, and Jax is as committed to solving the threat as he seemed, then I would fully expect to see him again.

Alex: And he had gobs of money and such chariiiiiisma. He was one of only two male characters to really DO much in the book too. Along with Isaak.

Marzie: Charisma and wanting Kai to work for him, yes. I wonder how far Max envisions the series ahead in terms of planetary destruction. Tough to write in combo with the worlds he’s created which he made me love. Isaak! Poor Isaak! I felt so bad for him when Issa had to lie to him. It was like she was tricking a puppy to get it to the vet or something.

Jenni: I doubt Kai will be working for Jax, but they might work together again as allies.

Marzie: Definitely. I think Kai is too smart to work for him.

Jenni: How about Izza going full Blue Lady Avatar?? The woman who ate the Wastes.

Marzie:  I LOVED seeing Issa come into her own in this book. She has evolved so much as a character and is so loyal and a good friend.

Alex: THAT was the ultimate heist in this book. The Blue Lady stole all the power she could need to go from a weak goddess in the shadows to full-blown BADASS.

Marzie: To me, Issa is a counterpoint to the Deathless Kings (and Queens, presumably). She has become imbued with the Blue Lady’s magic and power and she is being transformed by it, but differently from Craftworkers.

Alex: We’ve seen that before, with Temoc, transformed as an Eagle Knight, though Izza’s transformation appears less painful and intentional than the scarification ceremony that Temoc went through.

Marzie: Maybe the Blue Lady is a better, gentler goddess. And Izza reflects her demeanor. But Temoc’s life has, in some ways, been harder than Izza’s. I hope she retains her sensibility and sense of humanity. I really like Izza.

Alex: Which I find mildly hilarious, seeing as she’s the scion of the god of thieves and street kids, since that’s such a hard life.

Marzie: Honor among thieves? Because Issa is honorable. Actually, I loved that many of these women had their own unique code and sense of honor in this book.

Jenni: Even if Gal’s made me want to scream!

Marzie: Gal was… puzzling in her way. That scene where she decides she’s breaking out after all reminded me of that scene in the movie Serenity (the Firefly film sequel) when Kaylee deciding she’s “going to live!” through the Reaver attack so she can survive to make out with Simon Tam. LOL

Jenni: Oh, Gal’s code, as Raymet says, is extremely simple. I loved that deciding that Raymet was her lady allowed her to utilize a legalistic loophole. Overly lawfully good characters tend to be rules lawyers if they’re going to survive.

Marzie: That seemed like a mighty convenient loophole but I liked it. I really don’t think Gal wants to die at all, frankly.

Jenni: Oh, I’m sure she doesn’t want to die. But what she wants has almost nothing to do with it. I might just possibly know someone with a code like this in real life… <grinds teeth>

Alex: I don’t think Gal wants to die either. I think she is going through the motions of following orders, and she may have wanted to die when she first got to Agdel Lex/Alikand, but once she met Raymet, changed her mind about how hard she was going to try to follow those orders.

Jenni: I don’t even think she’s going through the motions. She threw herself headfirst into the most dangerous thing she could do in Agdel Lex/Alikand. It’s just that she’s such a badass that nothing comes even close to killing her.

Marzie: I think she actually enjoys delving. She was punished for doing the moral thing and now she’s really enjoying doing something dangerous and illegal because she’s so damn good at it.

Jenni: I think she enjoys delving because it’s throwing herself in the path of danger. She was practically beatific when she got to take on all those Wreckers in the Wastes. Like, “Finally! A real fight!”

Alex: Well, I mean, what rational person wouldn’t feel great whaling on a Wrecker? /shudders/

Jenni: I think a lot of rational people would be afraid when they’re badly outnumbered and facing defeat. She said flat-out that she hoped that the Wreckers would finally be the ones to kill her.

Marzie: I think Gal felt it was an opportunity for great glory!

Jenni: Gal’s not a glory hound. You don’t run with an illegal organization that operates in the shadows if you’re after glory and fame, lol.

Alex: Not fame, just glory. Her kind of glory doesn’t make sense to anyone not from Camlaan anyway.

Marzie: I meant it in in that sense, yeah. Her glorious refusal to submit, to fight on against all odds. Yes, Seriously Camlaanders are NUTS.

Jenni: I wonder if we’re going to go there in a future story?

Alex: I really hope so! I want to visit alllllll the places. Except for Iskar. I’ve had enough of the Iskari.

Jenni: (Bleck!) Iskar? Ehno. That was a particularly disturbing metaphor for how we’re all drugged into insensible conformity by the intellectual diet of modern life.

Marzie: I would not enjoy more Iskari subplot, either. It would be cool to go to Camlaan, though, and this is another of the many questions I have for Max. Where do you think we’ll go next, Max? We have to see if he will be at WorldCon and would have time to be interviewed or if he would do email Q&A if he doesn’t have time there.

Alex: You know, going back to the characters, I kind of loved Fontaine, and her literally drugging her Squid Lord insensible in order to facilitate everything. That was particularly clever.

Marzie: I loved that bit with Fontaine, too, and I loved it when Kai finally understood what Fontaine was doing because she had been so repelled by the drug use at that point. That moment was her epiphany. That subplot was interesting, in a creepy sort of way. Drug your overlord! Ugh, those squids! Like something out of Aliens!

Jenni: Reminded me of an early episode of Buffy - Bad Eggs, I think it was called? Season 2. (And I suppose I just dated myself with THAT pop culture reference, lol)

Marzie: Oooh! I think I remember it, though not the title.

Alex: Nah, Buffy hit the millennials too. I watched a TON of it growing up, and then again in college.

Jenni: Why do you hurt me deep inside, Alex? LMAO You watched reruns growing up. Ouch.

Marzie: Listen, I watched the original Dark Shadows, people. And I was very angry that my parents wouldn’t let me see the movies in the theater.

Alex: The what now?

Jenni: Lol, what she said. Dark Shadows?

Marzie: How can you not know about Dark Shadows? Seriously, you guys?

Alex: Is that the terrible movie that was about vampires and had Johnny Depp in it? YES IT WAS OMG

Marzie:  No, not that! The original was a TV serial in the 1960’s and 70’s about vampires and ghosts and was absolutely formative of my love of vampires and ghosts and all things that go bump in the night, and just like the movie The Three Lives of Thomasina was with love of animals. I loved how creepy and campy Dark Shadows was.

Alex: Well, we don’t want to digress too much, you guys…

Marzie: So I wonder how long we will have to wait to see more Craft Sequence? I think Empress of Forever is a totally different universe.

Alex: It is! It’s a SPACE OPERA!

Marzie: I’m excited! But I do want more Craft Sequence. I need more Elayne, more Kai and more Tara and Issa. Just…. More!

Alex: Me too, and from his comment on Goodreads, I believe he intends for there to be more. It just depends on Tor.Com

Marzie: But how old was that comment. I think I remember that from like one or two years ago?

Alex: Not super recent, but I believe he’s repeated that on Twitter recently, as well. The ball’s in’s court.

Marzie: We will just have to ask him. We should tweet about it to As Seanan McGuire says, you need to tell publishers you want more of a series.

Jenni: That’s true.

Marzie: Any final thoughts about Ruin?

Alex: On my first readthrough, Ruin of Angels became my favorite of the series, but now, having reread the series, I’m dropping it to #2. Four Roads Cross is my new #1.

Jenni: This book was certainly a departure in texture and plot from the previous entries in the series.

Marzie: This book definitely feels like the opening of Act 2 in the Sequence. And I’d place it as tied for second. Probably. Maybe I’m still in love with Full Fathom Five and Four Parts Dead. And you know, I missed Shale! I kept wondering if he would show up.

Jenni: I missed several characters from Alt Colomb. Abelard, for one.

Alex: Yes, I really need my Tara+Shale ship to come to harbor.

Marzie: I love the Tara and Shale dynamic, too. But you know, I do kind of wonder what’s up with those “idealists” at Two Serpents. We haven’t seen Caleb in such a long time.

Jenni: I wonder what Shale will make of Tara apparently having gone part metal-skinned, or something? Did anyone else note the brief reference to that at the end of the book?

Marzie: Yes, I wondered about that. It’s an interesting development that might intrigue Shale.

Alex: Yes, and I thought it interesting that arms transforming seems to be a common thing in fantasy, after expending amazing amounts of power.*

Marzie: You know, I just checked and Max’s comment on Goodreads about 10-13 books in The Craft Sequence and it was actually last fall!? Definitely made after the publication of Ruin. I hope that’s true. I’m impatient for more. I’m down for asking!

Alex: All we can do is speculate and email

Marzie: And ask we shall! Jenni, thanks for reading with us! This is an awesome Buddy group and I hope that we can reconvene later this summer for reading Naomi Alderman’s The Power.

Jenni: Thanks for having me! Looking forward to it!

*Two to one, Alex is referring to The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin!

Our Buddy Read for August 2018:

View all my reviews


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