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.
Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Made Things is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on November 5th, 2019.
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