An interesting new fantasy novella from one of the most versatile, talent (and consistent) authors writing today
Making friends has never been so important.
Welcome to Fountains Parish — a cesspit of trade and crime, where ambition curls up to die and desperation grows on its cobbled streets like mold on week-old bread.
Coppelia is a street thief, a trickster, a low-level con artist. But she has something other thieves don’t… tiny puppet-like companions: some made of wood, some of metal. They don’t entirely trust her, and she doesn’t entirely understand them, but their partnership mostly works.
After a surprising discovery shakes their world to the core, Coppelia and her friends must re-examine everything they thought they knew about their world, while attempting to save their city from a seemingly impossible new threat.
I’m always eager to read any new novella (or full-length novel) by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Long-time readers of CR will know how much I enjoy his work, and that I’ve enjoyed everything of his that I’ve read. Made Things is no exception: this is an engaging, imaginative story in a new fantasy setting.
There’s a lot to like in Made Things. The characters, the heist-aspect, the “made things” of the title. Tchaikovsky brings to Made Things everything that has made his past fiction so good. There’s a little bit of action. There are competing agendas with the groups of companions that form. There are intriguing and imaginative creations, twists on some popular fantasy tropes. There’s a dash of humour. Perhaps not quite long enough to fully flesh-out the world, but the author gives us just enough to get a good sense of what it’s like to live in this city, within this society, under these rules. It reminded me a little bit of Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, Ari Marmell’s Widdershins novels, and perhaps also Jon Skovron’s Hope and Red. I really like the magic system in this book. I don’t really want to say more about that, because it might result in some spoilers.
Overall, then: Made Things is an excellent short fantasy novella, one that introduces us to a new world, with interesting magic and politics. I’d certainly be interested in reading something else set in this world.
Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky (2012); Guest Posts on “Nine Books, Six Years, One Stenwold Maker”, “The Art of Gunsmithing: Writing Guns of the Dawn“, “Looking for God in Melnibone Places: Fantasy and Religion”, and “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn; Reviews of Empire of Black and Gold, Guns of the Dawn, Spiderlight, Ironclads, and Walking to Aldebaran