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Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles Kindle Edition
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The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is that it reads like a graphic novel. The dialogue is stilted and compares to that of the Star Wars films. This is not a book that requires any deep thinking on the part of the reader nor will you be rolling the plot around in your mind once you have finished the book. It is mind candy, a guilty pleasure you can enjoy for what it is and escape the reality of life. If that is what you are looking for and enjoy then I highly recommend this book.
There are very few authors whose body of work makes us cackle with boyish glee. Chris Wooding is one. Jonathan Maberry another. Recently Sarah Pinborough has joined those ranks. For those of you keeping score, when Larry Correia writes something new we drop everything. You can then find us camped out with a flashlight in the living room under a tent made of sheets and blankets. Never mind we own our own homes.
We are just going to come out and say it: Larry Correia's HARD MAGIC, book 1 of the Grimnoir Chronicles, is completely fun and awesome. Everyone knows how much we like his Monster Hunter series. We like this one more. Much more. Everything about HARD MAGIC is positively saturated with style...
...well, and explosions of course.
HARD MAGIC takes place during an alternate USA of the 20' and 30's. Magic has been reintroduced into the world which has obviously changed it dramatically. There is some detective story stuff here and some magic. But apart from those automatic "win buttons" the main thing that Larry's novel has going for it is its epic foundation. This is Epic Alternate Historical Urban Fantasy...with superheroes...kinda. Yeah. Tell us that doesn't sound completely fun and awesome if executed right. And yes, Larry does it right.
You may be tempted to dismiss Larry as a pure action author. The style (and `splosions) over substance type. The explosions and violence are there, and they are GLORIOUS! But we've said it before, and we'll say it again. Larry's work is deceptive. No doubt we read his work for the gunplay (one of the best out there) and the B-movie feeling it all invokes. But if we are honest with ourselves--and you readers of course--we would have to admit we read Larry's work for the characters. HARD MAGIC, in our opinion, has the best character work of all Larry's novels so far.
To understand the characters, we should probably talk a bit about the main magic system of the novel. Rare individuals have the ability to perform a certain type of magic. Some can alter their own personal gravity. Some can teleport. Some use animals in a borderline possession way. Others can perform miraculous healing feats while their opposites can cause plagues. In the back of the novel you'll find a list and description of them all. They sound a bit like superheroes. You readers of MISTBORN will feel very comfortable picking up the magic of this created world.
One of the main characters of the novel is Jake Sullivan. He is one of those individuals that can alter his personal gravity--a Heavy. He's been in wars (we get some awesome history here), he's been a P.I., and he's been in prison. Now he's on loan to the Feds. Simply put, Sullivan is terrific. He is very reminiscent of the Owen Pitt character from the Monster Hunter universe (some would say a tad too similar), but has enough differences to make him his own character. For starters, Sullivan is more intelligent. The sequences in the novel that show the research Sullivan is doing on magic are fantastic and are VERY character building.
While there are a ton of characters in the novel--none of with we can point at with dislike--the other main character we want to mention is Faye--a Traveler (aka teleporter). We want to mention this character specifically because Larry does such a great job of keeping her, well, female-ish. So many male authors have such a hard time writing female PoVs (just as female authors have trouble writing male PoVs). Faye goes through some traumatic events early in the novel, and there is a need to balance this "lost youth" and innocence with the incredible power he grows into as the novel progresses...not to mention all from a female's PoV. Tough stuff, yet Larry pulls it off. We don't mean to snub the female characters from his other novels, but Faye is not only the best female character Larry has put on paper, but she is one of his best overall characters, period.
We couldn't wrap us this review without mentioning the world-building. It may seem hardly worth mentioning since this takes place in a familiar-ish 1930s USA, but Larry did an amazing job here. Information is never just dumped on you during the course of the story. Rather than killing the pacing, Larry puts all the historical changes and details in the chapter bumps. The chapter bumps (or leads, if you will) in HARD MAGIC are easily on the same level as those in Brandon Sanderson's novels. We've mentioned before that we think Sanderson's chapter leads are some of best in the business (if not THE best). Larry's are THAT good. As you read through the novel, the attention to detail is noticeable. You can tell that a ton of research was done, and then effectively spun into the text.
When all is said and done, Larry Correia's HARD MAGIC is one of them most entertaining, fun novels we have read. What's more is that it has all the qualities that make us love Epic Fantasy, only in a Raymond Chandler, noir setting. No one type of reader will enjoy this novel more than another. This is one of the few novels that will capture every reader's imagination and leave them--like us--begging for more.
Recommended Age: 16 and up.
Language: Yep. It can be strong, but never feels thrown in for shock-value.
Violence: It's a Larry Correia novel, of course there is violence. The gun-play is perfect, and the set-piece action sequences are completely over-the-top and awesome.
Action there is plenty of, and something I particularly like is occasionally someone dies from the team. Which is the way it should be, when bullets and magical powers are flying all over the place, casualties should be a given. Correia presents this with selective deaths that impact on the characters and their motivations, and he did a great job of making me share Jake's fury at the death of one of the characters. Characterization is also extremely strong, there isn't just one or two characters that are cool, I found myself engaged by literally ALL of them, which for me is rare. Each character leapt out of the pages and smacked me in the face with how real they were, for this alone Correia deserves high praise.
A note that deserves its own paragraph is the villain. Villains are often undervalued in books or made one dimensional, in that they're Evil and that should be enough for the reader to want to see them lose. Often the author is too attached to the notion of his hero beating said villain and how the hero's story is the sum of your entertainment. Not so here. There is the main villain and his Lt's, and I loved each and every one of them! They were as vivid and interesting as the heroes were and provided that constant tension and curiosity that makes this book almost impossible to put down as you're always wondering what one of the bad guys is up to next. A trap that authors are also susceptible to if they're not careful is if they give their lead villain the attention he deserves, they have a difficult job of making him sympathetic as well as the bad guy. Correia evades this trap neatly, and one ups it by providing TWO lead villains.
Finally, the world this all takes place in is simply fantastic. It has elements of steam punk, magic, super powers (typically referred to as street level or pulp era) and the romance of the 20s/30s era all blended together so smoothly and entertainingly that it wouldn't surprise me if this would land a HBO contract (if Game of Thrones can, this should). This is one of the very few series that I will snatch up every preorder that comes out. My most profound thanks and respect to Mr Correia for the effort and creativity he puts in to this series.
Most recent customer reviews
The story was very well done with action to keep me really interested