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Two Serpents Rise    by Max Gladstone order for
Two Serpents Rise
by Max Gladstone
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead (an urban fantasy Damages) introduced a well realized world in which gods once were the sole providers of the power needed to run cities, but where human mages have also accumulated great powers since the God Wars. Now he takes us to another part of that world in Two Serpents Rise.

Caleb Altemoc is a risk manager (a gambler in his spare time) for Red King Consolidated, which supplies water and energy to sixteen million people in Dresediel Lex. His best friend Teo also works at RKC. Caleb's father Temoc is the last priest of the city's old defeated gods (who required regular human sacrifice) and is sought as the True Quechal terrorist leader. Caleb has long rejected his father's beliefs, though he has inherited some of his talents.

As the story begins, Caleb is investigating an unnatural infestation of Tzimet (water serpents) at a city reservoir, where he encounters cliff runner Mal. She claims to have nothing to do with the Tzimet and he does not report her to the Wardens though he should. He's attracted to her and seeks her out, but she is more than she seems.

In the meantime, RKC is in the process of taking over Heartstone, 'a dowsing company, water development, energy.' Heartstone controls 'two massive serpents, larger than mountains, older than the earth' - the King in Red wants to use them to obtain water and power from the ocean. The takeover goes ahead, and a long laid plan begins to unfold as RKC takes in a Trojan Horse.

The plot thickens fast with plenty of action and betrayals. But essentially this is about population growth, limited resources, and making the best of bad choices. Mal asks Caleb to join her in changing the world - will he follow her vision, no matter the cost? Read Two Serpents Rise to find out - it's surprisingly relevant to our own world.

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