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Spellbound: Book II of the Grimnoir Chronicles Hardcover – November 1, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
How best to describe the Grimnoir Chronicles for someone yet to read Hard Magic? Take the X-Men. Then throw them into an alternate reality noir version of the 1930's. Instead of evolution though the super powers are granted by a vast alien entity that is part parasite/part galactic voyeur. Then add some guns. Scratch that. Add lots of guns. And airships. And Tesla super weapons. And robots. Then of course there is the growing threat of the Imperium, a Japanese empire that makes Hitler's Third Reich look cuddly. As if that weren't bad enough the United States government is moving toward a Registration Act for the magically active citizens that will surely trample all over individual freedom in the pursuit of "security and safety." Oh, and that vast alien entity that is enabling ordinary people extraordinary powers? It's being hunted by an even bigger alien entity that wants to devour it and all who come into contact with it.
The Grimnoir Society has a lot of trouble on its hands. Not only have they been framed for an assassination attempt on the President of the United States but they are still preparing for all out war against the Imperium. Heavy Jake Sullivan has been labeled Public Enemy Number One, and has lay low while a new secret policing force for dangerous magicals scours the country for him. Faye Vierra is still trying to recover from the massive amounts of magic she expended saving her allies at the end of Hard Magic. Enemies close in from all sides and the Society must fight to clear its name.
I wondered how any sequel could possibly top Hard Magic. I was honestly a little worried. The last fifty pages of Hard Magic are the most exciting moments of any book I have ever read and it seemed like an unlikely feat that Correia could top himself this time. I needn't have been concerned. Spellbound takes the world Correia built and makes it even more dangerous. Answers are given and even more questions arise. The characters continue to develop and progress. Jake is still guilt ridden by the death of a close friend but knows that he must set aside his grief to continue studying magic so that he can defeat the evil that is yet to come. Faye proves once again to be not just the most badass female, but character in general, in the entire Urban Fantasy genre. Another interesting development for Faye is the explanation for why her powers are so much greater than everyone else's. Correia writes these characters with such distinctive voices that they grow to be real people with real personalities.
Perhaps one of the best parts of Spellbound is the assembled cast of villains. There is no shortage of bad people in the alternate history world that Correia has imagined. From eugenic imperialists to thuggish law enforcers and political visionaries the Grimnoir Society has a colorful and interesting rogues gallery. Some of the villains even turn out to be uneasy allies, as an Iron Guard turned ronin has the potential to be one of the best characters in the entire series. Evil as they may be the villains are never bad solely for the sake of being bad. These corrupt characters have true motivation behind their actions and they prove to be an excellent foil for the forces of truth and justice.
The plot is very tightly woven across multiple perspectives encompassing the two main characters (Jake and Faye) as well as a number of the secondary cast. It is apparent that Correia loves writing this world just from the sheer soul and enthusiasm put into each page. The pacing is excellent and a dedicated reader will be sure to have the book finished in no time flat. Perhaps the best thing Spellbound accomplishes is that it sets the foundation for the next book in the series. Don't confuse this for typical middle book syndrome however. Spellbound tells a self contained story but prepares readers for even greater things to come.
And at last the action. The last fifty pages of Hard Magic encompass the greatest action scene ever written, hands down. Though Spellbound doesn't quite measure up it does provide insanely intense battles, culminating in a show down with an epic demon in Washington D.C. that is a real homage to King Kong. That is, if King Kong had fought the X-Men...and could fly...and breath fire...Needless to say Correia approaches the action with the same skill and dedication that makes all of his books so fiercely enjoyable to read. From gunfights to magic fights, there is a seamless choreography that is unmatched in its ferocity as well as its clarity.
Spellbound, book two of the Grimnoir Chronicles is an amazing story. As prequel to what I would consider the perfect book, Spellbound had a lot to live up to and it did not fail to impress. As great as Correia's Monster Hunter series is, the Grimnoir Chronicles is just better in every way. If you've read Hard Magic you will not be disappointed. If you haven't, go buy both right now. You can thank me later.
This author is one to watch, and his other series, Monster Hunters, is equally engaging. As long as he keeps writing them, I will keep reading. I think he will soon be in that category of writers (think Weber or Ringo) that can publish his books as soon as they are ready, and not have to wait a year to release the next one.
"I was afraid of that."
Larry Correia delivers another exciting magical alternate history with Spellbound, the second of his GRIMNOIR CHRONICLES. After Jake Sullivan and the gang took care of the German zombies, the Japanese Iron Guard, and Nikola Tesla's peace ray in Hard Magic, the magicals are needed again to thwart new threats to the country. This is hard to do, though, after they've been framed for the attempted assassination of President Roosevelt. Public approval for magicals is low and opposition groups are organizing to march on Washington. FDR decides that magic must be regulated and proposes a new-deal-type law that will require all magicals to register with the government and wear an identification badge.
Meanwhile, after receiving a phone call from Hell, the Grimnoir recognize that there's a much greater magical threat that the American citizens are unaware of. Only the Grimnoir are equipped to handle it. Frustrated, they must take care of this alien evil while hiding from the government. Fortunately, they do have some really awesome magical powers, an unexpected powerful ally, and a lot of guns.
Once again, I'm surprised to find myself enjoying Larry Correia's testosterone-pumping, gun-toting, blood-spurting, heads-rolling story, but there's a lot more here than guns, guts and gore. There's a large diverse set of likeable and fully-developed fictional and real historical characters, an interesting historical backdrop, plenty of action and suspense, some blood-chilling moments, and a few quirky elements, too, such as an army of robots and a black hole.
There's also quite a bit of dark humor, which blends perfectly to lighten the mood just a bit when things get scary. I was always entertained by the scenes in which Lance takes over the body of an animal. I also love the adapted quotes at the beginning of the chapters, which put the story in its historical context. For example, one is from the New York Commissioner of Boxing who explains how, after Jack Johnson beat the Great White Hope, they bribed a referee and snuck in a Brute to end Johnson's career ("Gotta keep the sport pure, y'know?").
Bronson Pinchot's performance in the audio version of Spellbound is nothing short of brilliant. There's a large international cast here and Pinchot handles all of those accents with ease. He perfectly captures the excitement, horror, and humor of Spellbound. If you don't read audiobooks, you might consider starting with this series. It's a perfect example of how good audio can get.
There's danger on the horizon, American opinion about magicals is unstable (are they public heroes or public enemies?), and many questions remain about the Power, its motives, and Faye's ties to it. I'm looking forward to the next GRIMNOIR CHRONICLES book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm moving on to three.
Voice acting was top-notch on the audiobook.Read more