I'm just a big kid.
Full disclosure: I'm a hard science fiction fan, not at all into magic/fantasy type fiction. I did listen to Monster Hunter International, just because I like Larry Correia's blog. Essentially MHI was pretty close to a classic alien invasion story, just with magic creatures instead of aliens, so I felt like it was worth the audible credit.
I bought 'Hard Magic' when Correia put it on sale for half price one day.
Hard Magic is set in a magical steam puke alternate history, just after WWI. As a fan and student of history I enjoyed the slightly altered historical quotes and the historical characters that Correia weaves into the story. I can take or leave the steam punk stuff.
I didn't like 'Hard Magic' as much as MHI, mostly because of what I came to think of as 'magic power escalation'.
There is a McGuffin that both the Good Guys and the Bad Guys are running all over the place trying to find. If the Bad Guys get it they will do [Really Bad Thing].
The basic story outline is:
1) Character development, reveal a clue about what is Really Going On.
2) Gun porn
3) Good Guys and Bad Guys fight. Bad Guys kick the living daylights out of the good guys, but just when all hope is lost a Good Guy suddenly gets better magic or a new magic power that saves the Good Guys from the Bad Guys for the next battle.
go to step 1 until Final Battle.
4) Fight Final Battle, I won't spoil it by telling you which team wins.
5) Reveal a clue about the next book in the series.
I hear what you are saying: 'Well Jim, why did you give this book four stars overall'?
That's a fair question. The answer is in Step 1 above, and in the excellent of the narrator and overall high quality of the audio production.
Correia isn't Mr.Original when it comes to plotting, but he excels at creating interesting characters.
The characters, both Good Guys and Bad Guys are fascinating. I really enjoyed how the Bad Guys had what for them were very rational reasons for doing what the reader perceives as Bad Things.
Likewise the Good Guys really are motivated to do what the reader will perceive as good things, yet the Good Guys are far from perfect, having many weaknesses and frequent mixed motivations.
The Bad Guys don't feel bad at all about collateral damage along the story. Collateral damage makes the Good Guys kind of sad. But really, the Good Guys don't lose a lot of sleep over that either.
The complexity of the characters and the motivations for their actions kept me going to the end of the book, even though the fight scenes got a little tiresome as time went on.
[Caution, this is a very bloody book, not suitable for small children.]
The narration was excellent, Bronson Pinchot does a great job of voicing each of the many characters in the huge ensemble. The audio production overall was first rate, no bungled edits, no distracting breathing, no compression artifacts.
If you like the idea of an alternate steam punk post WWI magical war with lots of magical fighting, then this book is for you!
If, like me, you are fan of military or history related hard SciFi don't be afraid to give one of Correia's books a chance. You might, like me, enjoy it!
The first 2/3 pacing and plot is very good.
the first 1/3 was written with such epic style (i.e. like a movie trailer)
no, nothing hit me like a brick, but the whole thing was very smooth
The last 1/3 was too stereotyped for me. especially given the first 2/3 being so great
The story was epic and reminded me of the George RR Martin WildCard series. I can see huge potential for the series. Strange enough, after playing the video game Destiny I was constantly reminded of the book series.
If it wasn't for BP reading this story I would never have heard it. I find it very difficult to read due to my ADD.
It made me smile multiple times.
It is a completely different sort of world from Monster Hunters, which was great, as I liked this world much more.
I love big ideas where ever they come from. Science fiction is a favorite hobby, but I also explore history, memoirs and social science.
I picked up this book because the third book in the series was nominated for the Hugo award and so I wanted to check it out. I'd never heard of Larry Correia or the book series.
I could not have been more blown away or had more fun with an audio book.
What makes 'Hard Magic' so much fun starts with its setting - it's the Prohibition gangster era, but with one big twist - human beings started gaining magical abilities 60 years prior with greater and greater regularity. The result is that the course of history has changed in many ways while still being somewhat recognizable. In this alternate world the great thinkers, inventors, politicians and athletes of the time are all the same, but augmented through their magical abilities. The result is a very lively and vivid world where Zeppelins still fly, prohibition gangsters spy on each other with demons and assassination can be done with magic.
However, a great setting is just the begging. As we get to know the characters and their magical abilities the come across as very real, human and they have great dialog. As their paths cross and the story arcs come together quickly there is never a dull moment.
The plot moves quickly and the story line builds as we come to understand the motivations of the Grimnoir society - I won't put any spoiler alerts in this review don't worry. In short order the characters start moving toward a worthy and daunting goal and the plot twists start coming in from all sorts of different directions as the story quickly moves from a midwest focused gangster story to a world wide geopolitical thriller pitting a powerful magical Japan against the western powers. (Germany takes a different arc after World War I in this world.)
I really loved the World War I alternative history and felt like the whole story came alive. It was a blast to listen to this story and I immediately picked up the next two books in the series and listened to them without stopping. The whole series is a lot of fun.
The narration by Bronson Pinchot is world class - some of the best narration I've ever heard. His range of voices is fantastic and his emotions comes across with real grit. He has one of those voices that makes you wish every book was narrated by him.
Can't say enough good things about this book. If you like the following, you'll love this book: Turn of the century prohibition era, alternative history, martial arts combat, gun fighting, magic, geo political thrillers and zeppelins. Honestly, what's not to love?
This book was fabulous. Great story. Great characters. Great narrator. Exciting. Touching. Believable. Hard Magic is unlike any other magic book I have read, and I have read many. I haven't written an Audible review in several years. But, I wanted to voice my enthusiasm to encourage others to read/listen to this book.
I have already downloaded the follow up in this series and look forward to checking out Larry Correia's other books.
I also want to give a big shout out to Bronson Pinchot for his awesome narration. It is so refreshing to listen to a narrator who is a gifted actor and who is truly great with voices. Each character was unique. Each voice distinct. Kudos.
maybe, to a male who likes highly descriptive violence. Or was a firearm aficionado, way too much technical descriptions of guns for me to follow, or enjoy. Don't get all fluffed up, I own my own rifles, just don't care for the extended descriptions.
Ending was relatively predictable, good guys win.
Hmmm, I didn't really have a fave, mostly his narration grated on me. He did have great variety in voices, just seemed to stereotype people.
I get that this is a period piece, but found some of the remarks demeaning to race and gender.
As a re-read/re-listen. I know when I listen to the story again I'll catch all the stuff I missed the first time.
Kept the story moving and gritty.
Having the history of the 1920's, 1930's era mixed with the fantasy of magic was a new approach and one I found refreshing and engaging.
Practicing Idealist, Dabbling Realist ;)
an alternate history timeline . . .
. . . which are basically all the things I thought I wouldn't be attracted to in a book. Yet, after doing some recent Audible listening to some sci-fi greats I had read years ago, such as Frank Herbert's Dune and Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, I would put the Grimnoir trilogy right up there with the great classics. It is that well written.
Larry Correia does a great job of imagery. At times I wonder if he played out portions of some of the scenery described, like tossing down into the air and spraying red liquid in order to describe the little details that fill in the senses of vision, sound, smell, and feel. Not only is the plot creative and unpredictable, but the environmental and character details filled in make the story rich and delight the imaginary senses.
I must be getting desensitized to violence because there's a whole lot of action with swords, guns, explosions, or simple brute strength killing and there was a time when I wouldn't have been able to handle the descriptions of gore or brutality. At times, while listening, I backed up and wondered what it is about humans that violence is acceptable as entertainment.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke
Some fascinating concepts thrown into this trilogy are "thought forms", "intent", "dimensions", "vortexes", and, of course, an alternate historical time line. There's an interesting undertheme of magic is a form of physics and the ending of the third book set up greater exploration in that direction, should other books follow.
In Dune, at the start of every chapter,was an interesting excerpt from various "books" written by the wife of Maud'dib, Princess Irulan. It was a good mechanism to both frame and fill out the description of the world and times the story was set in.
In the Grimnoir trilogy this idea was used very well and did a lot to explain the alternate timeline's world. Most were quotes by famous historical figures known today, but written differently as characters in the alternate timeline. Some were hilarious advertisements "excerpted" from "magazines."
After reading just the first book of Monster Hunters, I moved on to the Grimnoir Chronicles based on the reviews. There is definitely an improvement on the writing and I especially appreciate the more subtle and sophisticated approach to the romantic side of the book. Also, the characters are much more diverse and complex.
Speaking of romance . . .in the Grimnoir Chronicles the phrase "Alright then" was the entire sex scene at the end of the chapter. The writers, director, and producers of the BBC Torchwood TV series could make better shows just using that method.
Looking for a pleasant diversion after buying some "educational" and "self-improvement" books, I wanted to reward myself with the first Grimnoir Chronicle book. But it was so good that I bought the second. Then the third. Such amazing writing! I felt guilty for spending so much time on fun books . . .
And, of course, Bronson Pinchot is an awesome narrator. Awesome.
The last book left off in such a way that the story was completed, yet there is a possibility that another adventure is possible. If the author is able to keep up to the high writing standards established, I hope there are more Grimnoir Chronicle books to come.
3 words is not enough! I've listened to this series multiple times, it's like an old friend and always great
love the melding of magic with the history of the late 20's and early 30's. the world that correia has created is at once realistic and fantastical. he makes the appearance of magical powers in certain people mesh seamlessly with the very real technological miracles of the day (zeppelins, phonographs, guns) and the use of real people like Stuyvesant and Churchill anchors the stories in time and place while giving it a sense of realism.
I read the books after listening to them and I prefer the audible versions. Bronson Pinchot is one of the best narrators I've ever heard. he gives life to all his characters, their voices are distinct and recognizable (except for Jane's loss of accent in the 2nd book, what was up wit that?) you can tell Pinchot approaches each book with the extreme care of an actor playing a role that he loves.
I wish I had the time!
this series is great, as are correia's monster Hunter international books. I discovered these books through audible, and I'm glad, because his books are not that easy to get since he's published by a small house. I am really glad that audible produced these books and with great narrators - Pinchot for the Grimnoir Trilogy and Oliver Wyman for the MHI books.
Larry Correia created a world within our own that pulled me in and made me want to dive into the action! The "quotes" by actual historical figures were especially entertaining in Correia's world where magic is real and not everyone can wield it. Gravity spiker, Jake, was a hero to love! There are travelers, and cogs, movers and beasties, brutes and cracklers, and if that doesn't peak your interest to find out what this world is all about...? There is Bronson Pinchot! His special magic was to give individual life to each of these amazing characters with a voice of their own. Wow... just WOW!