Gladstone, Max -- Full Fathom Five

This series has gone from "great" to "really damn excellent" in three books, and I'm not sure I have anything useful to add to that. Except to pass along the author's comment (at a bookstore signing) that the numerals in the titles denote chronological order. Might be handy to know.

Oh, I'll give you the setup. The island nation of Kavekana has been theologically empty ever since its gods swam away to fight in the God Wars. (The other side won.) But empty doesn't mean bankrupt. The priests of Kavekana now construct idols -- non-sentient constructs of soul energy -- suitable for worship on any terms, excellent rates of return on prayer, hedged against financial crises of faith, and immune to audit by any sacrifice revenue service. Imagine Hawaii as the Cayman Islands, only money is souls and magic is money.

Of course no financial instrument can guarantee return. Occasionally an idol goes bankrupt. The priestess Kai makes a last-ditch effort to save one, and trips over a web of shady dealings. Simultaneously, a street thief named Izza helps a fugitive witch -- or fugitive something, anyway -- and a poet gets writer's block. All these things are connected, of course.

The magic-as-capitalism-as-everything metaphor is the fizz in this series, but it's the character writing that makes it great. Everybody is awesome. Even the poet, who is a self-important snot, is awesome. Nobody is there just to hold up a length of plot; nobody is stupid. Nobody is entirely trustworthy, because they all want things, and nobody is entirely awful, because they all want things and you can understand why. Nobody is entirely admirable but they're all people. So.

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