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Full Fathom Five

(Craft Sequence #3)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  4,121 ratings  ·  420 reviews
The third novel set in the addictive and compelling fantasy world of Three Parts Dead.

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operatin
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published July 15th 2014 by Tor Books
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Adrian Daniels No. There is one short interlude between the lead female character and her former boyfriend, but it is brief and non-explicit.

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Average rating 4.12  · 
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Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fants of Zelanzy, Martha Wells, Liz William's Detective Chen, fans of innovative fantasy
Recommended to carol. by: me, natch

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them—Ding-dong, bell.

–Ariel’s Song, from The Tempest, Shakespeare

Deep breath: a dive into the water, immersed in something alien, and yet familiar. This is the best I can summarize Full Fathom Five, an inventive fantasy that had me riveted, fighting th
I'm still mightily impressed by this author. I'm placing him on a slightly higher pedestal than most Urban Fantasy lists.

Hell, it's not even *quite* an Urban Fantasy anyway. It's just plain fantasy, and this title proves it.

Street urchins, god-Advocates, grand injustice, and an oh-so-deep mystery. It's fathoms deep. I'm amazed. And rather disturbed. I'm going to be having nightmares about body-cavity living dolls now.

I love it.

These novels keep going in the strangest directions. It's as if the a
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
tldr: please be patient up to half of the story by absorbing the details. The last 20% were marvelous!
I blame Three Parts Dead for making me set a high standard for Full Fathom Five (FFF) and other Craft Sequence novels. High standard in plot developments, and high standard of world building, and high standard for making me surprised. FFF only lacks in speed of plot development for the first half. Sometimes there was interesting development, but mainly I have to be patient and pay
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2015, e-books
5 Stars

Full Fathom Five demonstrates how incredible an adult oriented fantasy can be. Max Gladstone is on top of his game. Each of the books in The Craftwork Sequence is an improvement on the last, with book one being a near a masterpiece. Gladstone is rare in that he wants each book to be able to read alone, even though they are very connected. They take place in the same world and even have some recurring characters. Each of the first three of the Craftwork Sequence explore something different
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
Bought for the cover...obviously.

Stayed for the awesome story. This was fantasy at its best. Those novels that grab you and bring you into a world both rich and strange.

Let's talk about that cover! I mean look at it! Two WoC on the same cover. The world didn't come to an end. Guess what, I bought the Kindle version and a hardcover because I love the cover.

Max Gladstone's 'Craft Sequence' novels are the reason I return to my beloved fantasy genre time and again. Not to mention the prominence of w
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue on with the Craft Sequence books after Two Serpents Rise. I really didn't like that book and it kind of turned me off from the series. For some reason in the depths of a reading slump, Full Fathom Five called to me and I'm glad I listened.

Full Fathom Five is the 3rd published Craft Sequence book but is 5th chronologically and it gets confusing sometimes. The story follows Kai, a priestess that creates idols for her Order, and Izza, a street urchin thief. I r
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. It's such interesting world building and I do get a good picture of the characters. Not quite a 4 because the writing can be so baroque- too many words wrapping around the descriptions that I want to skip ahead and not read them all.
Paul Weimer
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(A version of this first appeared at SF Signal)

Kai is a priestess without a God, at least in the traditional sense. She manages and builds Idols, financial instruments for managing soulstuff for those engaged in the cutthroat world of international commerce in Max Gladstone’s Craft Universe. They accept sacrifices, provide a rate of return, and protect those who invest their worship in them. But these Idols, although they have the financial obligations and entanglements like any God, are not rea
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a couple of thoughts on this one:

1. Much, much better than its predecessor Two Serpents Rise. Like that one, the first half of Full Fathom Five is fairly slow going. Unlike that one, I didn't totally lose interest and stop reading. Things start juggernauting rapidly towards the end of FFF and Max Gladstone does a terrific job of pulling all his disparate threads together.

2. While I like Gladstone's twisty, deep state plots, I think what I really appreciate about his books are the quality of
Third in the series but I think it may be the best one yet. The world is starting to tie together in lots of interesting ways. This time we are taken to a city that wants nothing to do with the gods and deathless kings that rule other parts of the world; religion is not snuffed out but rather minds are reprogrammed the right way by giant stone terrors known as penitents. Rather than gods or goddesses this is a land of idols; keep some of the benefits but none of the pesky will that deities tend ...more
4.75 stars, I think.
I was going to rate it 4-4.5 stars for a majority of the book, but the final 100 pages were soooo good, so I'm bumping it up. All in all, I really enjoyed this and I'm so glad because Two Serpents Rise was definitely not my favourite book.

Proper RTC later! Hopefully. This is me, afterall.
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Max Gladstone continues to amaze me with the unique world of the Craft Sequence, as well as his prose. I love the way he juxtaposes opposing images of beauty and trauma in just a few seemingly simple words.

I read this book as part of my first ever read-a-long which was a really great experience. First of all, it motivated me to get on with reading it, and because I had to keep stopping to avoid spoiling myself each week, it led to a lot of incredible speculation in discussion with my friend and
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Awesome world building as always: set on an island in which priests build and service idols, constructs without freewill or consciousness that allow people to place their soulstuff safe in the knowledge that they're not supporting the worship of mercurial and dangerous deities. Kai finds herself shunted off to a desk job when something goes wrong with her friend's idol--and soon into deeper waters as it becomes obvious that it's not just one idol that went wrong...

A strong mixture of characters
The Captain
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ahoy there me mateys! So in previous times, wendy @ the biliosanctum set me on a series of adventures that led to me reading the first book in The Craft Sequence, three parts dead. I absolutely loved it. The second book was two serpents rise. That was not nearly as good as the first but I adore the world and certainly wanted the next book. Like the others, I read this one without reading the blurb first. No real spoilers aboard but read at yer own peril . . .

This installment turned out to be muc
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this series so much. This one saw THREE of my favourite characters from the other books make an appearance, which is super exciting. And Kai is SUCH a good character. Everyone is amazing, really. The, like, chapter-long theology conversation between Kai and Teo was like chocolate. This series is just… such a confluence of my interests.
I’m DYING for a Cat POV book. Her relationship with her goddess fascinates me.
Kelley Ceccato
There's so much to like in this book. Its most obvious feature is its complete uniqueness -- nothing else quite like it exists in the genre, and so it persistently eludes classification. Is it epic fantasy? The cities and countries are fictional (albeit clearly based on real places), yet the descriptions of those places and the people in them feel distinctly modern. So it's urban fantasy, then? Not quite that, either. It is ITS OWN THING, and that's a very good thing.

The prose itself goes far be
And Gladstone does it again. His books pass the Bechdel test in spades. The world building is great, and heavy concepts are dealt with extremely well.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars

This month’s reading has been going quite well, this book is one of the stand-outs of the month for me. It felt like a book perfectly crafted just for my reading enjoyment!

• Female protagonists with believable and complex characterisation ✓
• Interesting and unique world that the characters live in✓
• Improvement on the preceding book ✓

I preferred the writing style in which this was written in comparison to “Two Serpents Rise”, the way Max Gladstone wrote his prose felt quite different to
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a hard book to rate, because honestly I didn’t comprehend large parts of it. This world has always been very complex and mysterious and I was barely able to understand all concepts and their meanings. But “only just” understanding made this world so very special and extraordinary. It’s sort of the same feeling like after seeing the movie “matrix”: you do not fully get it, but you kind of understand and love it for it.

However, this one was different, I was left in the dark for too long an
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a very slow read and it`s true that it has a problem with the small intensity of the action. A chapter where the previous volumes had established a high standard.

This one, on the other hand, is more like an atmosphere book with a lot of new stuff and information that makes a bridge with the whole world building from the previous ones.

In the begining I was quite tempted to give it a small rating, but you have to keep in mind that we have a big and complex world at hand, with a lot o
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my second crack at this book. My first run at it I could not seem to get into it. It was very much a slow boil and apparently I was impatient and not willing to wait.

This time around, once I got to the merge of all the story lines, I loved it. Glad I gave it another go.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fantasy
This world never ceases to enthrall and entertain. Maybe the best of the series so far.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Really? Held on for fifty pages, then gave up. Didn't connect with either POV character.

I liked the previous books in this series, but this train never left the station.
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This series has gone from "great" to "really damn excellent" in three books, and I'm not sure I have anything useful to add to that. Except to pass along the author's comment (at a bookstore signing) that the numerals in the titles denote chronological order. Might be handy to know.

Oh, I'll give you the setup. The island nation of Kavekana has been theologically empty ever since its gods swam away to fight in the God Wars. (The other side won.) But empty doesn't mean bankrupt. The priests of Kav
Michael Burnam-Fink
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, fantasy
With Full Fathom Five, the Craft sequence finally lands square on its feet. Not the that the previous books were bad, but they were a little too taken with flashy descriptions of magic or pure idealism for my taste. This time around, Gladstone grounds his setting in very real and relatable concerns. The formula is much the same: a noir mystery or Grisham-esque thriller translated to high magic fantasy, but now executed perfectly.

Kai is a priestess of empty idols, a kind of divine hedge fund mana
From the titles to the page, the first three books in the Craft Sequence marry numbers with magic. The stories themselves explore different parts of society, but always on the bedrock of a spiritual economy, with soul stuff being traded and bartered to power the world. FULL FATHOM FIVE weaves together new and old characters on an island of idols and mysteries, creating a slowly building hope that is impossible to resist.

As with THREE PARTS DEAD, this story starts in the clinical mechanics of a s
Great. Great in many and varied ways, and such a delight to see elements from the first two books come together here. (Speaking of which, how delightful is it that this ends up being a gang of five bad-ass ladies, three of colour, including a lesbian and a trans woman, who are incidentally depicted on the cover? Very damn delightful. Some sort of Puppy-nose-tweaking critical mass of delightful.)

There's an almost Pratchettarian depth, simplicity and truth to the themes at play here - of the mutua
Beth Cato
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, fantasy
I've thoroughly enjoyed the previous two volumes in the series and anxiously awaited the third. It lived up to expectations, even though it didn't quite have the flow of #2 (Two Serpents Rise). Gladstone has a knack for writing books where characters feel contemporary even though they live in another world, one with magic, gods, undead kings, and all sorts of peculiarities.

Sometimes the weirdness makes it hard to follow, but it's so much fun that I keep on reading. The two principal POVs were q
Steve Tetreault
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Loved the first book in this series, but I've found them progressively less enjoyable. I would love to see the story develop with the characters and settings from the first book; instead, each book is a stand-alone story taking place in the same world, but in vastly different places. Having to learn a completely new mythology and try to figure out how it relates to what has already been shown is a lot of work with little pay-off, in my mind.

The last twenty pages or so are the story I wanted to
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I really regret putting this series aside for as long as I did! This book was great, despite the fact that it took me foreeeeeever to remember the characters that overlapped from the previous books. Definitely excited to uncover the grand sinister plot Gladstone has for this world he's created.
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SF/F Read Alongs: Full Fathom Five 69 37 Aug 20, 2015 05:34PM  

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Max Gladstone is the author of the Craft Sequence: THREE PARTS DEAD, TWO SERPENTS RISE, FULL FATHOM FIVE, and most recently, LAST FIRST SNOW. He's been twice nominated for the John W Campbell Best New Writer award, and nominated for the XYZZY and Lambda Awards.

Max has taught in southern Anhui, wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat, and been thrown from a horse in Mongolia. Max graduated from Yale Univer

Other books in the series

Craft Sequence (6 books)
  • Three Parts Dead (Craft Sequence, #1)
  • Two Serpents Rise (Craft Sequence, #2)
  • Last First Snow (Craft Sequence, #4)
  • Four Roads Cross (Craft Sequence, #5)
  • The Ruin of Angels (Craft Sequence, #6)

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