Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence is one of Ana’s favourite ongoing Fantasy series, where corporate law meets dead gods meet fantastic characters and worldbuilding. Last First Snow is the fourth book in the series and features the fantabulous Elayne Kevarian as one of the protagonists.
We invited Max to come over and talk about writing Elayne and answer the question on everybody’s minds: “Elayne: why so awesome”.
Some characters just saunter into your book out of nowhere, like they own the place. Elayne Kevarian’s one of those—a powerful, brutally smart Craftswoman who flew in on the wings of a storm to shape my first book, Three Parts Dead, and stuck around for the duration. In a world where magic and law operate sort of interchangeably, she’s a senior partner in an influential necromantic firm—no family, no fixed address, hovering on the verge of a particularly vicious, skeletal immortality.
She was an aspirational figure and cautionary tale for Tara, the protagonist of my first novel. This is the life that lies in store for you; do you still want it as much as you thought? But Elayne refused to stay there. She turned out to have moral agency, and her own motives; her roots twined through and around my story’s heart.
She’s stitched, in various forms, through every Craft Sequence book so far, even though she stayed off on the sidelines in Two Serpents Rise; there are a couple blink-and-you’ll-miss-it references to her that may only be obvious after people read Last First Snow. She shows up prosecuting Kai for malpractice in Full Fathom Five. Last First Snow finds her earlier in her career, before she becomes quite the implacable force of the later novels. She starts Last First Snow as a successful fifty-year-old Craftswoman who thinks the system works—a God Wars veteran who fought old oppressive deities for the freedom she now enjoys to warp reality and raise the dead.
Last First Snow doesn’t leave her there, of course. When the book opens she’s working for the King in Red, trying to open a poor district of the city of Dresediel Lex for development. The locals turn out in force to resist her attempts—which brings her face to face with Temoc Almotil, last priest of the old gods, who she hasn’t seen since they were both much younger, and on different sides of a war. It’s up to the pair of them to stop another one.
Readers end up drawn to Elayne for a range of reasons. Personally, I love her because she’s so damn sharp. She has brilliance and power and she uses them constantly; she doesn’t have an off switch. She also doesn’t care at all whether people like her, so long as the job gets done. She’s been through too much in her life to brook nonsense.
Which was, really, the hardest part of moving her into a starring role. In Three Parts Dead and Full Fathom Five, Elayne experiences very little conflict. She’s a blade, a machine—she knows what she wants, she knows what she has to sacrifice to get it, and she executes methodically. She makes for a fantastic foil, but to recast her as a protagonist in Last First Snow I had to get deeper into her mind—to bring out the person behind the force of nature.
I can’t really say more without breaking open the book—but Last First Snow hints at the chaos and bloodshed of the God Wars where Elayne forged herself, and forces her to the edge of the comfortable life she’s built in the decades since. What happens here sets Elayne on the path to Three Parts Dead, and the rest of the Craft Sequence.
Gods help her.
Or not, as she’d probably prefer.
We have two copies of Last First Snow to giveaway. Even though this is the fourth book in the series, it works as a great entry point to the series because it is the first in chronological order so don’t be shy to enter the giveaway if you haven’t read the other books yet! The sweepstakes will run until Saturday July 25 11:59AM EST. To enter, use the form below. Good luck!