5bat! Review: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

October 6, 2012 Review 2

Cover Art: Chris McGrath

Three Parts Dead

by Max Gladstone

Genre: Urban Fantasy |
Excerpt: Yes | Book Trailer: No
Reviewed by: Julia | Source: Publisher

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; October 2, 2012
  • ISBN-10: 0765333104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765333100


Near Perfect – Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.


A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.

Set in a phenomenally built world in which justice is a collective force bestowed on a few, craftsmen fly on lightning bolts, and gargoyles can rule cities, Three Parts Dead introduces readers to an ethical landscape in which the line between right and wrong blurs.


THE GIRL WITH A DRAGON TATTOO meets THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS, THREE PARTS DEAD is the perfect mixture of character, mystery, and world building. Gladstone deftly interweaves a dazzling, intricate world with a passionate, magical plot that had my heart afire for Kos Everburning and his long lost love.

THREE PARTS DEAD elevates the word “awesome” back to its godly context  with it’s world building, compelling characters, and action that doesn’t let up until the last page.  Gladstone creates three tiers of characters, on a scale from human to divine, and I found myself emotionally involved with all of them. I was invested in the camaraderie of Tara, Abelard, and Cat, each powerful and young and damaged. I was invested Elayne Kevarian and Professor Denovo, morally mutable, chilling, and more dangerous in their subtlety than overt force. And in the background, at the heart, Gladstone managed to seduce me with Kos Everburning, the dead god who still permeates every part of this struggle with pathos and passion and heat.

As much as the grand battle and world building were satisfying, I think my favorite parts if the story was watching Tara and her companions come of age. I was invested in Tara from the outset, but soon found myself becoming attached to Abelard and Cat as well.  Gladstone’s narrative is so smoothly balanced that I didn’t mind having the focus shift from Tara to other characters.  Given how attached I often get to one character, that is quite a feat.   Tara and Abelard and Cat each seemed incredibly different at the outset, but they shared a journey whose subtle similarities I didn’t fully unpack until the end.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Gladstone’s world is the recognizable bones of our own reality. Wafting below this exotic architecture of magic and faith, these hints provided an anchor that made it oh so easy to get immersed in an alternate reality where magic is society’s life blood.  THREE PARTS DEAD is a completely satisfying stand alone novel, but Gladstone has built both a world and characters that deserve further exploration.  I’ll be eagerly awaiting whatever he chooses to write next.

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2 Responses to “5bat! Review: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone”

  1. helen

    How is the book written? Multiple POV or the pov of one of the characters?