Three Parts Dead is Max Gladstone’s first book. It’s a secondary-world fantasy that melds magic and law in a way that does not actually make me twitch as a lawyer, because it takes some of the trappings (courtrooms, big firms, soul-sucking educational experiences) and puts them to use for quite different purposes (document review through the imaginary autopsy of a god’s body, necromancy, stealing someone’s face), while still keeping useful big-picture themes in mind (the importance of persuasive storytelling, the mutability of Justice).
Plus it’s just fun. It has a high density of cool worldbuilding things, which I will refrain from enumerating partly because the fun is in the discovery and partly because this is really a post to see if I’ve successfully upgraded Movable Type two entire whole numbers (update: no! I hate computers!). I should note, however, that the first few chapters are a little rocky in terms of pace and exposition, and things smooth out once most of the characters meet up, so hang in there.
I also should note that the cover is accurate and the book is refreshingly filled with women and lacking in romance. And though the ending may be a smidge rushed, it has a number of good payoffs on the mystery, worldbuilding, and personal fronts. Definitely recommended.