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Mazes of Power

(The Broken Trust #1)

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  161 ratings  ·  51 reviews
This debut work of sociological science fiction follows a deadly battle for succession, where brother is pitted against brother in a singular chance to win power and influence for their family.

The cavern city of Pelismara has stood for a thousand years. The Great Families of the nobility cling to the myths of their golden age while the city's technology wanes.

When a fever
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by DAW
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Juliette Wade The series is adult, but could also appeal to YA, as Beth Cato mentions in her comments. There is some mature content. High school and up would enjoy …moreThe series is adult, but could also appeal to YA, as Beth Cato mentions in her comments. There is some mature content. High school and up would enjoy it.(less)

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Fábio Fernandes
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction, 2019
This is one of the best books you'll read in 2020. Why? This is my review:

One of the virtues of worldbuilding is to make your reader discover the universe you created in bits and pieces. Too much exposition at once seldom works (except for Kim Stanley Robinson, but let’s not go there). Mazes of Power, by Juliette Wade, is a very good example of well-crafted worldbuilding – starting with the epigraph. It’s very revealing, and gave me goosebumps: Varin is a place where humans have always lived on
Beth Cato
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, science, blurbed
THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. I was blessed to be sent an advance copy from the publisher, and more than happy to send back a blurb:

"Mazes of Power is a gasp-inducing political Hunger Games packed with intrigue, assassins, and stunning social dynamics. I didn't want it to end!"

Seriously, preorder this so you can get your hands on it on February 4, 2020. But don't start reading too close to bedtime, or you'll be in trouble...

Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Oh my goodness! I don't even know where to start with this book. It was so good!! I never wanted to put it down and was so sad when I finished because I now have to wait for the second one. Ugh!

This is a story of two brothers --one born with power, the other who craves it. Under the strict thumb of their father, they are guided into the highest political game in the world where their reputation is more important than their lives. Throughout the tale, we also follow a newly appointed bodyguard t
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful novel: sexy and exciting and full of drama. The characters are deep and follow their own stories in a fascinating plot.

I am the author's husband and have been living through the development of this story for years. It was a strange to read this book and see how the characters and plot finished up after so many revisions. I am so proud.
Angela Quarles
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed this debut sociological science fiction! This is not your run-of-the-mill SF--Wade weaves a powerful tale of the struggle for power between two brothers, underpinned by a solid understanding of sociology and anthropology that lends authenticity to the rich world-building and the actions and emotions of the characters. Fast-paced, but enjoyably rich in detail, I couldn't put it down!
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I found this to be an interesting read, with a few issues that cropped up as I went along. I imagine that most of these considerations have already occurred to the author, as it's otherwise such a thoughtful book with fairly comprehensive worldbuilding. I'd round up to 3.5 stars, except for a few things.

(view spoiler)
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it
The web of political intrigue was entertaining and the characters, while somewhat unsympathetic, were compelling enough. However there’s curiously little in the way of both setting and characters descriptions in the worldbuilding — why does everyone live in caverns underground? What caused this? Why do the working classes actually care about and want to help the inbred, sickly, weak nobility class? Too many questions.
Kyle Aisteach
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was very taken by this book.

Juliette Wade is known among short storyists as a fine worldbuilder. This book expands on her deep worldbuilding skills, still using the short storyist's toolkit of extremely sparse, efficient prose. As a result, it's a "slow down and read carefully" book, not something you can skim through and enjoy because it's dressed up with other people's furniture. If you're willing to work a bit, though, you will find a complex world that we're only seeing the tips of.

Also t
Tim Hicks
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book may frustate you at first, but stay with it and you'll get quite a ride.

Good worldbuilding, and some good characters.

Garr is very close to being too nasty and one-dimensional, and surely Sorn's evil-vizier role had to have been well-known.

Nekantor is very close to being too weird, and I got really tired of being reminded that Benél has power. It wasn't clear how that helped Nekantor cope. I award a mark for the author deciding that that this severely-challenged could make it anyway.
Linda Robinson
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
This 1st in what I assume will be a trilogy is complex world-building that lives claustrophobically and solely in the narrow corridors of the palace of the First Family, situated deep underground in a multistoried city/cavern. Reminds me of another book that I can't remember that differed only in being aboveground. Tiers of power. Overly complicated Houses and Realms and Whatnot. As in trilogies too often - this book feels like it's stretched like Draggable Dan to meet the number of pages requir ...more
Debbie Notkin
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is not the kind of book I like, so I'm somewhat fascinated that I got so caught up in it. This first novel, and first book in a trilogy, is set in a complex fictional society with eight strongly delineated and profoundly separated castes with constructed names--when I saw the list at the beginning, I thought, "Oh, I'll never be able to keep track." However, Wade (who is a friendly acquaintance) is extremely deft at clarifying and reminding the reader, so this turned out to be easy. It's als ...more
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
With our country the way it is today, one would think that a fantasy novel focused on political intrigue wouldn’t be so much escapism, but more like reading today’s news. Yet Juliette Wade’s debut novel, Mazes of Power, not only dives deep into political intrigue, it focuses a sharp lens on the relevant issue of what one can do with power, for good or for ill.

Read the rest of this review at Lightspeed magazine:
Kimberly Unger
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mazes of Power is deliciously complex and is a perfect fit if you want more societal world-building in your science-fiction.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very satisfying science fiction. Not sure why it’s referred to as a fantasy. Good characters, great world building and good story. The book reaches a satisfying ending (and a pondering of how soon can I reread it) while leaving the reader with lots of questions. For example, what’s with the aliens? How did they get there? Why are they living in underground cities?

The only problem is that we have to wait until Wade writes the next book dammit.
Aug 09, 2020 rated it did not like it

When the Eminence of the city of Pelismara dies from a disease called Kinder's Fever, his place is rightfully succeeded by the heir, a position bequeathed not from birth, but through blood. Now that the chair of heir is vacant, many of the great Families are looking to participate their children in the Heir Selection, a game that will not only need political power to win, but also feats of boundless physical strength and moral resilience. Tagaret of the First Family has eyes upon him to become t
Patrick St-Denis
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Labeled as a thoughtful work of sociological science fiction, Juliette Wade's debut novel scared me a little. Indeed, this is usually the sort of book that appeals to critics but puts the bulk of SFF fans to sleep. Advance blurbs mentioned that Mazes of Power featured phenomenal worldbuilding, so I finally decided to give it a shot.

And what a mistake it turned out to be. Mazes of Power is one of the most boring novels I have ever read. I wanted to quit early on, that goes without saying. But I h
S. Qiouyi Lu
The Grobal Race rules the eight cavern cities of Varin, but its strict rules for membership are based on blood and birth, creating nobles who have become increasingly inbred. This genetic bottleneck has left them more susceptible than the other castes of Varin to an illness called Kinders fever. An outbreak would devastate their diminished population. So when the Speaker suddenly falls ill at the annual Announcement proclaiming the state of the Grobal Race’s health, the nobles in attendance pani ...more
Leonardo Etcheto
Aug 17, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is a little uneven, there are parts I very much enjoyed, others that were to turgid for my tastes, an epilogue that was very flat and some brilliant plot lines mixed with some just banal story.
The good -
superb world building, with the pieces slowly falling together and yet with much yet to be revealed. Once I realized they live in a cave, I wondered about how do they feed themselves. 3/4 into the book, in a dramatic way that seems very appropriate for an aristocrat that has never had
Mar 14, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an absorbing, compelling, and intellectually challenging book. I'm a sucker for anthropological scifi in the vein of Janet Kagen's Hellspark. Mazes of Power is part of that lineage. It takes us into a severely stratified world, in which people are born into a caste that determines their privilege and role. As readers, we spend most of our time with the Grobal, the ruling class. It was hard to understand how they could maintain their supremacy given their insularity, immunological weakne ...more
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this novel of political intrigue, the setting is the star. Pelismara is a cavern city with an elaborate caste system. Although likeable characters are presented from every caste that appears, the privileged aristocratic caste, the Grobal (I remembered them as "Gross Nobles"), had me rooting for revolution more and more as the novel proceeded.

The main plot hinges around a few things: A sudden plague that reduces the Grobal population, the selection of the next Heir (a ruler-in-waiting), and t
Scott Neigh
Described on the jacket as "sociological science fiction." Humanity lives in a network of cave cities deep beneath the ground, in a society organized into a rigid caste hierarchy. The ruler of the cave city in which this is set dies and a succession struggle ensues. Follows two brothers in a family of the caste that, more or less, rules this city, as well as a servant newly placed in their household. I bought this pre-pandemic, and knew very little about it before I picked it up, so it was a bit ...more
Elizabeth Davis
Jul 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Initially I was not terribly gripped by this book, and there were some aspects that I found odd. For instance, the romance between the upper class protagonist and a young woman felt superficial for what it evolves into, although the novel does show that even that romance is more fleshed out than what is the norm for the upper class in this society. That being said, there was one romance in the novel that was spellbinding and only increased in complexity as layers were stripped away, and it's tha ...more
Molly Madonia
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is super delicious. Part political intrigue, part dystopian caste-based society drama, part romance novel (a little, like as flavor, not super-salaciously), part coming of age, this book was a page turner from the first chapter. There is a wide cast of characters to keep straight, but the book includes a guide to the social system, the deities, the main characters and their relationships, and the locations for easy following by the reader; I definitely flipped back and forth to make su ...more
Nov 19, 2019 marked it as to-read
PW Starred: "Wade’s excellent high fantasy debut, the first in the Broken Trust series, invites readers into an intricately constructed and morally ambiguous world full of complex political maneuvering and familial pressure. For centuries, the cavernous city of Pelismara has housed the 12 Great Families that comprise the noble class of the city’s strict caste system, who cling to the glory of a long-faded golden era. When a mysterious illness known as Kinders fever kills the city’s Eminence, the ...more
Stacie Lauren
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Berkeley Publishing Group-DAW and NetGalley for granting me an advance reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

Mazes of Power creates a whole new world for the reader. I have to say this world caused my quite a bit of confusion at the beginning. There are many different classes of society that intermingle and determining the order without flipping back to the info page at the front was a little difficult.

That being said, once I got the hang of the new lingo, this book was prett
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a peculiar book, not easy to label. I was drawn to it under the advertisement of sociological SF, expecting something in the way of The Left Hand of Darkness, but this is a different thing really. I also have to admit that I was about to drop it several times at the beginning - besides the unexpected YA feel, both the characters and the dialogues felt overstretched, emotions overreacted,… however, it got me somehow, and at some point I couldn’t stop reading.

More than science fiction, it
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
CN: There's a highly contagious fever running amok in the book. Deadly mainly only to the inbred rich folks (who are the main characters). This may affect your choice on whether to read the book in the middle of a pandemic. I thought it was okay, but YMMV.

The three POV characters are Tagaret, Nekantor and Aloran. Tagaret is a little boring, though I think he's supposed to be the good one? He's very focused on getting the girl and searching for meaning outside of what his society taught him. Neka
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh, my, this one was GOOD. It's a futuristic (I think, or an alternate universe) society that lives mostly in cave communities under the ground, and it's got an extremely rigid caste system. I have to say that the first chapter feels a lot less like fiction than it would have a year ago. This is a very political novel about power and relationships and it's just really terrific. It's told in third person limited viewpoint from several different characters points of view. The one that resonated mo ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Juliette Wade's fiction has appeared in Analog, Clarkesworld, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Her studies in linguistics, anthropology and Japanese language and culture inspire her work. She lives the Bay Area of Northern California with her husband and two children. She blogs at Dive into Worldbuilding and runs the Dive into Worldbuilding show and workshop via Patreon.

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