Mr. Correia does it again. I have become a big fan, and I approach each of his new series with trepidation expecting a disappointment. I was far from disappointed. This series is as good as Mr. Correia other series. It re-writes history and covers it with a blanket of magic. Any fans of super powered heroes fighting super powered foes will love these books. The characters are great and the action is furious as the author manages to pull you into his new imaginary world while keeping you on your toes with plot shifts. I gave the performance a 4 instead of a 5 because the narrator, from time to time, reads with a certain sarcasm. This sarcasm does not fit the characters he's narrating. It is not frequent, but it can be quite distracting.
I bought this audio book, because of the good reviews. I have tried and tried, but fell a sleep after 5 minutes of listening, which was good since I have sleeping problems. I finally got to finish 1 hour and 27 seconds, but the story and the narrator aren't for me.
I picked up this book because of all the great reviews I've read for both the author and the narrator. The book itself is fantastic - great characters, great world, great story. It had surprising depth. I had recently listened to Brilliance by Marcus Sakay, which had a similar premise (granted, Hard Magic was published first), but where Sakay delved into the social repercussions of people with powers, Correia went deep into the system of magic and its use. It was fast paced, exciting, a bit brutal and gory, and I will definitely continue the series...
But maybe not as an audiobook. I had heard so much praise for Pinchot, perhaps I had unreal expectations. 75% of the character voices were fantastic and worthy of a 5 star rating. But the two main characters... UGH. Sullivan sounds like a cross between Forrest Gump and Bubba with a mouth full of marbles. I realize he is supposed to be a big, "slow" man from the backhills, but this is your MAIN CHARACTER. I think it improves towards the end of the book (maybe I just get used to it a tiny bit), but I'm not sure I want to listen to another 14 hours. I had issues with Fay's voice, too, but I'm not sure if that's because of her dialogue or because of how she was read. She came off as either a smart 12-year-old or a dim 16-year-old. Because there was a need to make her old enough to be in a relationship, you get the dim option. I considered these two characters at the 3-star level, so I averaged for a 4.
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
I knew when I started to listen to this book that I would love it. I love the characters, the multiple plots are easy to follow and never go off track. The creativity and unique use of characters also kept me interested and wanting to get to the next book.
Bronson Pinchot captures nuances bringing the characters to life.
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.