Review: SHOREFALL by Robert Jackson Bennett

Review:  SHOREFALL by Robert Jackson BennettShorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett
Also by this author: Foundryside
Series: Founders #2
Published by Del Rey Books on April 21, 2020
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 512
Also in this series: Foundryside
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.







Shorefall is the second book in Robert Jackson Bennett’s The Founder’s Trilogy and it’s also one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 because I loved the first book, Foundryside, so much.  It’s always hard to review the second book in a series because of the tricky balance between enticing new readers to the series without spoiling it, but hopefully I can find that balance.

Shorefall exceeded my expectations on so many levels.  Sometimes I find that middle books in trilogies feel like they’re full of filler and just trying to stretch things out to the climax of the final book.  There’s none of that with Shorefall though.  It’s an action-packed story that definitely furthers the plot in every way and adds layer upon layer of suspense along the way.

My favorite part about Shorefall is getting to revisit the cast of characters I grew to love so much in the first book.  Sancia, Orso, Bereneice, and Gregor – my favorite morally gray, found family – are just as wonderful and easy to cheer on in this second book as they were in Foundryside, perhaps even more so as they’ve truly come together as a little family.  When we meet up with them in Shorefall, it’s a couple of years after the events of Foundryside and Sancia, Orso and the gang have created their own consulting firm that revolves around the magical scriving technology.  Their goal with this business is two-fold:  1) to help everyone who can, master the art of scriving, and 2) to thus take power out of the hands of the greedy merchant houses who have dominated their city for so long.  I loved the Robin Hood-esque feel to what they were doing.  They’re still as morally gray as ever, but their cause is a noble one.

New characters also made Shorefall an absolutely gripping read for me.  An ancient (and super creepy!) hierophant, one of the first practitioners of scriving, has somehow been resurrected and is making a beeline for the city, leaving a trail of destruction and devastation in his wake.  His agenda remains to be seen, but Sancia, Orso and the others soon realize that the merchant houses are the least of their problems and they must turn their attention to defeating this new enemy before he destroys them and everything they’ve been working for.  I don’t want to give away anything about this character, but wow, he made my skin crawl every time he made an appearance!

What made Shorefall such an all around great read for me was just how well so many elements are woven together.  There’s the high stakes action and adventure of trying to defeat this ancient creepy guy, but there’s also a deeper exploration of the magical scriving as we watch the characters pool their talents and try to use the magic in new ways to fight the enemy.  And finally, we are also given a more in-depth look at the history of some of the beloved characters from the series.  There’s so much going on but it all feels effortlessly woven together, which made it so easy to become fully immersed in this world and its characters all over again.

My only quibble with Shorefall is that I wanted to see Clef, one of my absolute favorite characters from the first novel, and I felt like I had to wait way too long for him to put in an appearance.  Thankfully, it was well worth the wait, but I did feel myself growing a little impatient waiting for him.

Even with that quibble, however, Shorefall is still a stellar read and one that I highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a fantasy with morally gray characters that you’ll fall in love with as well as unique worldbuilding and phenomenal storytelling.  The Founders Trilogy has it all!


About Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 World Fantasy, Locus, and British Fantasy Awards. His eighth novel, FOUNDRYSIDE, will be available in the US on 8/21 of 2018 and the UK on 8/23.

18 replies
  1. verushka
    verushka says:

    you’re right, second books can be tricky to balance, and Shorefall has *nailed* that from the sounds of it. I need to go remind myself of the first one too.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I thought I would need to go back and re-read the first but was pleased at how much I remembered and how quickly I fell right back into this world.

  2. Angela
    Angela says:

    I’m glad this series is continuing to be great for you! I agree, the middle book of a trilogy often lags, but it definitely sounds like it didn’t here!

  3. sjhigbee
    sjhigbee says:

    A great review, Suzanne. I don’t think I loved Foundryside quite as much as you did – but I certainly enjoyed the magical system and the powerful, vivid writing. Which was a big advantage, because like you, I had no bother picking up with the characters in Shorefall, which I did really fall in love with. It’s certainly a foot-to-the-floor read!

  4. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy
    Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy says:

    I just finished this last night and wow, it was a little overwhelming! I’m still sorting through my feelings, but I was pretty disappointed with Clef’s page time. Even when he finally appears, he’s more of a device than a character. But I loved so much about it. My review will be up later in the week😁

  5. Flora
    Flora says:

    I know what you mean about the middle books in trilogies but I’m glad this one wasn’t one of THOSE. 😉 I can’t wait to read your thoughts about the final book once it’s published.
    Stay safe & healthy. x

  6. Olivia Roach
    Olivia Roach says:

    I have Foundryside on my wishlist tbr so I am so happy to hear that this second book is just as good. I love when we get a new cast of characters but the author takes the time to also revist the old ones. It sounds like the plot is especially spectacular and so cleverly composed. Great review x

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      It’s so good. I just saw on your site that you enjoyed Six of Crows and this series kind of reminds me of that one.

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