Redeeming Max Gladstone after whatever Empress of Forever was: yess, this is the stuff. The Craft Sequence formula is a very readable mix of great, emergent worldbuilding, with some harsh economic truths, a sense of wonder, and some extremely forgettable characters. This time we don’t only get the usual corporate lawyers, we also get an angry girl living in the streets and a spy (plus the usual forgotten gods).
Once again, the harsh economic truths involve some horrific treatment of prisoners and social deviants. Max Gladstone is pretty good at hitting feelings with that, and he knows. I appreciated some very impressive side characters that provide delightful twists, but generally I continue to be there for the scenery. I still think that Three Parts Dead is the best book in the series so far, but part of that is just that any of these would be the best if I had read it first – progressively, you see the pattern each book follows and so the charm wears off.
That’s first-world problem level of criticism though, so let me just repeat that I enjoy the series a lot and it’s my current response to best ongoing SFF series (joint with Expanse, I guess).
Oh, and bonus points for the queerness of the protagonist, who is trans, by way of intentional magic, which is handled extremely well: It’s a relevant, but not defining part of her past, with both pride and insecurities.