- Title: Hard Magic
- Author: Larry Correia
- Series: Grimnoire Chronicles, #1
- Genre: Steampunk, Urban Fantasy
- Format: Audio Book
- Source: Own Copy
- Reviewed by: Sonja
- Rating: 4 out of 5
Description: Jake Sullivan is a licensed Private Eye—with a seriously hardboiled attitude. He also possesses raw magical talent and the ability to make objects in his vicinity light as a feather or as heavy as depleted uranium, all with a magical thought. It’s no wonder the G-men turn to Jake when they need someone to go after a suspected killer who’s been knocking off banks in a magic-enhanced crime spree. Problems arise when Jake discovers the bad girl behind the robberies is an old friend, and he happens to know her magic is just as powerful as his, and the Feds have plunged Jake into a secret battle between powerful cartels of magic-users–a cartel whose ruthless leaders have decided that Jake is far too dangerous to live. . . .
Review: I listened to this one after the supremely narrated Ready Player One read by Wil Wheaton. (Amazing job. If you haven’t read or listened, go get it. Now. This review will still be here.) It colored my perception while listening . . . I don’t actually think there is anyone on the planet better at accents than Bronson Pinchot. But, sometimes the excellence of the accents makes it harder to understand the dialog. In other words, this is the one that made me wish for audio books with subtitles. That being said, you always know who is speaking and it sounds just almost like a dramatization. It is *that* good.
As is typical with a first book in a series, this one starts off a bit slowly. We get introduced to each of the main characters piece by piece, with absolutely no idea how (or even really *if*) they will all come together. Each one is interesting in his/her own right and the magic system created is fascinating. We have travelers, fades, heavies, healers, mouths – and others I am completely unable to recall. Their gifts are all different and the world is working on jailing or isolating or whatever it is we do with people when we are scared they might have it a bit easier than we do. Hence, poor Faye has been sold by her family and Jake is actually in jail.
The story itself takes place between the World Wars. The first 2. In the 1930s. The Japanese are the really bad guys here – the Germans have basically lost. So, we are rounding up all the ‘actives’ to work together to stop the Imperium. One of my favorite things about this book is that the good guys are good – not perfect, but good – and the bad guys are bad. There are a couple characters that cause you to scratch your head and wonder in which camp they fall, but overall black and white.
As is with most steampunk type books, there is a bit of history retelling going on here. We revisit historical characters and give them a little bit more personality and a little bit different character. Among them are people like Pershing and Browning (I mean, after all, Correia could be described as a little bit fascinated with guns . . .) and even Hitler. Ok, Hitler isn’t really re-imagined – just how he got there. I don’t typically enjoy those type things, but they worked for me here. The characters were fun and interesting and the personalities added a little bit to the actual history.
I really enjoyed this series. The characters are well drawn and the magic system is well thought out. Yes, there are some whose powers completely overshadow others, but ultimately, the good guys are still over powered by the bad guys. It is also interesting how they use things like the ability to travel along with an animal to their advantage. Bronson Pinchot is amazing as a narrator. I give this book 4 stars.