Factotum (The Foundling's Tale, Part Three) by D. M. Cornish

As I mentioned yesterday, what was once the Blood Monster Tattoo trilogy is now The Foundling‘s Tale series.  And what I assume is the concluding book was recently released.

Factotum (The Foundling’s Tale, Part Three) doesn’t exactly bring the story of Rossamünd Bookchild to a neat conclusion but it does resolve the larger story arc (about his nature and his future) and bring some closure.

Here is the publishers blurb:

Rossamünd Bookchild stands accused of not truly being a human at all, but of being a monster. Even the protection of Europe, the Branden Rose—the most feared and renowned monster-hunter in all the Half-Continent—might not be enough to save him. Powerful forces move against them both, intent on capturing Rossamünd—whose existence some believe may hold the secret to perpetual youth.

As with the previous books, the conclusion to this unique series requires being re-immersed in the language and world Cornish has created. And with the exception of occasionally tiring of the baroque descriptions of every last uniform and outfit, I enjoyed the book and again found myself marveling at the world building and imagination of its author.

It is technically young adult fiction (required seemingly since the lead characters is young) but it never had that feel to me. It is epic fantasy fiction at its best.

In Factotum the underlying theme of the series –  “not all monsters are monsters and some everyday folks are the worst monsters of all” – is even more prominent. In Book one, Foundling, Rossamund is simply trying to make his way in the world – to move from orphan to contributor to society. In book two, Lamplighter, his chosen career path is blocked because of the machinations of some evil men, possibly in collaboration with monsters, and this sets up an epic confrontation. Rossamund must face his true nature and decide what future he will choose – initially his choice is made for him and he joins with Europe who has rescued him.

In book three, this confrontation develops and builds to be bigger than he could have imagine – it seems literally the whole Half-Continent is focused on the scandal of Europe and her assistant. But surely with such a powerful protector, and some loyal friends, he can make a life for himself?

This is the tension that develops throughout and finally resolves after climatic battle. The conclusion is a melancholy, albeit touching, one and certainly left me feeling like there could be further adventures for Rossamund.

As noted above, this series requires an ability and desire to immerse yourself in a world and all the details Cornish supplies. It is verbose and intricate. Outside of the explicarium, or glossary, Cornish does not go out of his way to explain terms or the language of the Half-Continent. Instead, the readers is asked to dive in and to view the details and possible confusion as the price to pay for a journey in a foreign world.

Once you take the plunge, however, I think the details and depth of character they provide reward you with a unique experience – the chance to visit a world built to a level of detail rarely seen.

On occasion I would skim over the multi-sentence descriptions of fashion and uniforms, but for the most part once I was re-acclimated to Cornish’s world I enjoyed the journey and was sad to see it end.

If you love epic fantasy that is a mix of Tolkien and Dickens you will enjoy this series. Those who haven’t yet explored it I encourage your to start.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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