Bound (Alex Caine) (Volume 1) 2nd Edition
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- Publisher : Gryphonwood Press; 2nd edition (December 20, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 314 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1940095743
- ISBN-13 : 978-1940095745
- Item Weight : 1.02 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.79 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,666,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Alex Caine is a cage fighter. He sees people’s intentions and purposes before they do things, so he can read what his opponent will do and react accordingly. He’s always attributed this to empathy, but one day an older man named Patrick Welby hunts him down and offers to show him all about magic. Caine isn’t interested until some bad guys make it dangerous for him to stick around, so he travels with Welby even though he still doesn’t really believe magic exists. As events around him heat up, he makes new friends and enemies and sets out on a mission that could result in his death–or it could make him monumentally powerful.
At first the narrative feels a little rough. It’s as though the author hasn’t quite sunk into his “voice” yet. As things heat up and the book gets underway, this gradually improves until it’s chugging along quite nicely. Also at first, it seemed like the author was struggling a bit to give the women personality (there’s actually a scene where a woman perches on the corner of a desk and files her nails–which, I’m telling you, this woman would damn well get her nails done for her). This, however, is another thing that improves as the book goes on. Ms. Sparks, one of the villains, develops more than just “sleeps with her boss” as a personality. Silhouette, someone Alex takes up with, develops more than “hot dangerous chick” as a style. At first both Ms. Sparks and her boss, Mr. Hood, are fairly cartoonish, but that, too, gives way to more interesting personalities. I wasn’t happy to see that one bit part character was described, in every appearance, as obese. It would be nice if this wasn’t seen as a defining characteristic.
I love the fact that even as Alex’s power grows, he still tends to fall back on his physical combat abilities (even without his supernatural edge, he’s trained for years) even as he learns to do new things with his talents. It makes sense that in an emergency he’d fall back on what he knows best, and he won’t always pick the right tool for the job. He also tends to lose control, which has a fascinating story to it.
I think the part I liked best was the collection of various creatures Alex encounters. There are leathery, mysterious black “birds” that follow him around. There’s a trio called the Dark Sisters who turn out to be quite a bit of dangerous fun. There are the half-Fey “Kin” that are behind legends of various supernaturals. This is an excellent world-spanning dark adventure, and I can’t wait to read the next two books!
Content note: sex, and child death.
Bound, can be summed up in one word: raw. It is considerably dark, filled with coarse language, graphic violence, fight scenes and sex. It is not the type of book I would normally read, but the pace and edge-of-the-seat suspense was such that I couldn’t put it down. Transported so deep into Baxter’s world of magic I had no moments where I considered the book implausible. The prose is superb, as are the descriptions although I thought some of the setting could have had more detail with local cultural references. The one issue I had, is the protagonists have no morals. Whilst Cain does feel guilt, both he and his girlfriend murder, steal and enchant their way through their quest with impunity which adds to the darkness of the story. If you can handle a dark urban fantasy, I can’t recommend this one strongly enough. I’m looking forward to the sequel as well as exploring more of Baxter’s work in general.
He’s introduced (both driven and dragged into) to a wider hidden world, of magic grimoires and horrific monsters, cruel, cunning, and some even beautiful.
Through it all, one thing Alex learns is that nobody is on his side, not even Silhouette, a Kin, a race of beasts that prey on humanity. She aids him, sure, but for her own reasons, and those of her kind.
Alan Baxter has created a realistic magical world (if one can say such a thing) and introduces his readers to it. There are some helpful folks, like Patrick Welby, a minimally talented sorcerer, to some real nasties, like the Subcontractor and the Dark Sisters. Their names belie their true natures.
What comes across best are the competing agendas and clashing interests, the intersecting circles striving for control of the ‘Stones.’ And Alex is caught in the middle, struggling to fight and puzzle a way to survive.
That nothing was easy for Alex, and that nobody could be trusted, not fully—and most not even close, That made Bound an interesting read and kept me turning the pages.
Top reviews from other countries
I can accept works of fiction using the deaths of children for dramatic purposes when the plot absolutely demands it, but in this case it felt entirely gratuitous and unnecessary. We already knew how evil the book's villains were and how high the stakes could be. It didn't need to be rammed home by sacrificing a group of frightened children in a horrific fashion. It felt like killing for killing's sake and the resulting shock effect From that point onwards Bound and its author Alan Baxter lost any residual goodwill I might have felt towards them.
Not that I had much of that left anyway, Bound being a pretty terrible book even without the nastiness using multiple child murders as a plot device. When done well Urban Fantasy, the genre that best encapsulates Bound, creates original, complex, fascinating and believable yet hidden worlds and characters that operate in parallel with the reality that we know and see. Bound's world, with its covens of vampire/were-creature hybrids like something ripped off from the terrible Underworld movies, feels far from original or terribly interesting. Its also brutish and simplistic, with the lead Alex Caine spending almost all his time either punching something or someone or having rough sex with Silhouette, a teenage male's fantasy woman rather than a believable and rounded character.
Overall there is an undercurrent of nastiness to Bound even before it uses the murder of innocent children as a throwaway plot device. Its all very well to be a dark fantasy tale with a hint of menace, but there's a line where menace becomes outright unpleasantness. By describing in detail the deaths of several terrified children for no reason other than to prove that the bad guys really are bad Bound steps over it.