Descriptions of this book make it sound like something tailor-made for me. I love noir, I love magic, I love hard-boiled mystery. I don't enjoy a poorly-constructed hodgepodge of noir stereotypes with emphasis on the most sexist tropes of the genre. I actually reject most arguments that portray noir fiction as misogynistic. In fact, noir, as a genre, presented the boldest challenges to gender roles of its main time period. I adore the women of noir, who while frequently portrayed as villains in one way or another, are generally complex characters reacting to pressures that an actual sexist doesn't understand or admit exist.
This is not that.
I can even enjoy crappy, trashy fiction when it's clever.
This is not that.
This is tripe of the most shallow variety.
It's poorly written, shoddily constructed, and relies on a shorthand that only works if you already buy into a bunch of nonsense about different classes of people. In The High Window, Marlowe says, and I paraphrase here, that any group of people is made up of all kinds of people, just like any other group. Marlowe would take one look at this cast of characters, say something cynical, then set himself down with that one chess problem he uses to keep from quietly going insane.
Dr. Nils Rasmussen
The idea behind this amazing novel is that of an alternate reality set during the 1930's in which patches of mankind has developed magical abilities. Aside from the story, the author examines all of the problems that present themselves with what amounts to a wonderful new form of technology.
I must also mention that out of all the hundred-some audio books that I have purchased, this book's narrator ranks among the best I have EVER heard. He manages to create a new, unique voice for every single one of the characters, almost up to the point that it feels like you are listening to a radio drama. Amazing work.
I have yet to listen to the 2nd and 3rd novels in this series but have already spent my credits on them and look forward to 2 more mind-bending experiences.
9.6 / 10
Wasn't sure about this book but listened to the first 2 Monster Hunter International (which was cool that they were based in Alabama) and thought I would try this. I fell in love with Jake Sullivan. The quotes from and about 'famous' people were hysterical! The sequel, Spellbound, is already out in book form - but I'm going to wait for the audio. Just hope Bronson Pinchot will get the read. His voices were great.
Fun fast moving story. Never slow. Interesting magic. Tie-in to famous characters of American history 1910-1930...
Love the narration and broad number of voices performed. Hated the wrong pronunciation of '30-06' cartridge ... should be pronounced 'thirty aught six' (Aught is another way to say zero).
Don't believe the synopsis of this book. I don't think the person who wrote it has read the book or possibly I missed an entire chapter or three. The main character is not a detective, he's a bounty hunter with magical talent who is used by the government to capture rogue "actives" (those with magic).
This is not even close to being a rip off of the Dresden files. It's set in the USA during the 1930s, but one in which magic has changed the course of history.
Language can get harsh at times. The violence level is high, but it's not intensely graphic. I wouldn't recommend this to my 14 year old son, but I might to an adult friend.
Avid Zombie fan who's starting to listen to more and more Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories. So, my description is apt to change. Dog lover who's known to have cats. LOL C# coder, part-time prepper, B movie fan, AMC watcher, recovering but successful day trader, perpetual student, overjoyed uncle, former adrenaline junkie with a flare for cooking, and lots more. LOL
i'm usually not drawn to alternate history type stories, but after listening to and really enjoying larry correia's monster hunter series, i decided to try hard magic. like many other reviewers, i was a bit skeptical of the story b/c of the description. i wasn't sure of the whole detective angle. but being a fan, i decided to go for it, and boy am i glad i did!
correia uses the detective angle to open the story. jake sullivan is released from rockville prison by j edgar hoover on the condition that he helps hoover catch law-breaking actives. actives are humans with magical abilities. each active has a specific magical ability. jake is a heavy, which means he can manipulate gravity. hoover wants jake to capture his ex-girlfriend, delilah, a brute, who are actives with enhanced strength and speed.
as jake investigates delilah, he learns that things aren't what they seem. without divulging too much of the plot, jake stumbles across a hidden war between actives, and he must choose sides. yes, this may be cliche, but larry correia makes it a thrilling ride.
the story is kind of like a mashup of james bond, the x-men, and columbo. the bad guys' intentions are as sweeping as those of spectre's, except their methods are even more depraved and vicious! the magic system is extremely unique and interesting. as a heavy, jake is assumed to be a dimwit, and like columbo, he allows others to assume that train of thought until his spark of intellect surprises those around him. again, this is kind of cliche, but it is well done, well timed, and utterly enjoyable.
true to correia's style, there is a great cast of characters, each with their own unique magical power. the supporting cast have their own interesting backstories, which add depth to their characters. each character is well-developed, and fits into the plot.
as an alternate history story, correia adds nice touches by having each chapter open with quotes from famous people, ranging from abraham lincoln to einstein to teddy roosevelt to adolph hitler.
although the story starts kind of slow...the first 2 & 1/2 hours...what starts as a simple detective story unfolds into an action-packed thrill ride to save the world from a megalomanic, reminiscent of professor xavier vs. magneto. to those of you who don't know what i'm talking about, the are characters from marvel's x-men who butt heads and fight over the future and direction of the mutants. sorry...i was geeking out for a while. lol yes, i've read a lot of comics and manga.
overall, an excellent story! if you liked larry correia's monster hunter stories, i'm pretty sure you'll dig hard magic. the stories are disimilar enough that you won't feel like you're listening to the same thing, but they are similar enough in that they're both awesome and unique stories. geezzzz...does that even make sense? lol
if you've never listened to nor read larry correia's monster hunter stories, then don't be afraid of hard magic. it is a great jumping off point to experience his exquisite storytelling!
omg! i would be remiss w/o mentioning bronson pinchot's narration! i can't believe this is the same guy who played balki from the tv show perfect strangers! lol i'm showing my age! bronson's narration is amazing! his range of voices is staggering, from jake's deep voice to faye's flighty, country twang, bronson believably pulls of different accents and tones so well that you think there's multiple narrators! this is my first time listening to his narration, and he's one of the best i've heard!
Once again Larry Correia brilliantly mixes real-world and fiction. A well written book that leaves you waiting for the next one.
Bronson Pinchot does a great job with the narration as well. I would highly recommend this book.
And if you like this book, try Monster Hunter International, Monster Hunter Vendetta, and hopefully Monster Hunter Alpha will be out soon as well.
Contrary to its title, Hard Magic is not an urban fantasy: it's basically a superhero novel. Set in an alternate history between world wars, a mysterious alien "power" came to Earth in the middle of the 19th century and granted a subset of the population magical powers. For the majority of "Actives," these powers come in singular and well-defined forms: there are "brutes" who have super strength, "torches" who are pyrokinetics, "mouths" with mind control powers, "heavies" who can manipulate gravity, etc. But it turns out there are also other forms of magic, such as those wielded by the Japanese Imperium's "Iron Guard." These magical super-soldiers have kanji branded into their skins that give them accelerated healing, protection from harm, strength and speed, and other powers. There are also necromancers who raise the dead to create zombie armies, and other manifestations of magical power, but they all function pretty much like super powers.
In this alternate history, Japan is on a path to world domination thanks to possessing the most powerful and heavily trained magical warriors, and fleets of dirigibles that function like bombers and aircraft carriers all at once. Led by the most powerful man on Earth (literally and figuratively), Chairman Tokugawa, this is the Japan of the 1930s: expansionist, fascist, and unambiguously and unapologetically the bad guys. Tokugawa, as the Big Bad, is a great if somewhat stereotyped villain. Yes, he's a centuries-old samurai with magical superpowers who goes on about strength and honor and likes to recite poems to his enemies before killing them, but he has class and style and he's the sort of villain you love to see chewing the scenery and can't wait for the climactic battle where he finally goes down.
This book has lots of climactic battles, each one more epic than the last. Jake Sullivan, the main character, is a "heavy" who can control gravity. He's also a great big slab of macho, a war veteran, an ex-con, an ex-P.I., fearless alpha, and probably a little bit of an authorial wish-fulfillment. He hits every manly-man trope in the noir genre, and you know what? That's okay! Because this book is what it is, a raging male power fantasy like the classic superhero comics where Superman knocked Nazi fighter planes out of the sky. Here we have Jake Sullivan fighting other "Actives," then pitted against his own brother, who of course is bigger and badder than him and thus is the penultimate Boss level Jake must get past before he can face the Chairman himself.
But it's not just Jake tromping around in a California fortified with "Peace Rays" created by Tesla and fighting Imperium ninjas and invincible Iron Guards and dirigible sky pirates. He joins the Knights of the Grimnoir, an international organization dedicated to protecting the magically gifted and the non-magical alike. Jake's ex is Delilah, a former New Orleans whore with super-strength. A secondary protagonist is Faye, an Okie "Traveler" (teleporter) who is a hoot as a character, her mind running a mile a minute in a hundred directions, and in the climax (in which she, like Jake, has without a whole lot of plausible explanation powered up by a factor of about eleventy) is running amok through the Japanese dirigible fleet blasting magical ninjas with a shotgun that never seems to run out of ammo, and that's before she and Jake go completely Super Saiyan against the Chairman and his Iron Guard.
If you're thinking this sounds a lot like Steelheart or Mistborn, you're right. This was my first Larry Correia novel, but his writing style and his worldbuilding reminded me a lot of Brandon Sanderson. Like Sanderson, Correia writes straight-up action/adventure with lots of heroics and over-the-top power stunts and characters who are often archetypes more than fully-realized people, but if you are in the mood for grand pulp adventure, this book hits a high mark and almost got 5 stars from me. It is a guns blazing, powers activating, bloody spectacular pulp superhero slugfest that is, if not a literary masterpiece and unabashedly un-PC, absolutely great fun for those who like an occasional dose of fist-pumping "America, booyah!" heroics.
I found it quite hard to rate this book and in the end decided to go for the middle. After all, you can't blame a book for what it is. You wouldn't say a technical manual is bad because it is boring and in the same way you can't say that "Hard Magic" is bad because it is cheesy, over the top and full of extremely corny lines. After all "Hard Magic" is clearly pulp fiction and that is also the writing that you get. The writing is on par with the most clichèd romance novels, with the only difference being that here people are flinging around magic and bullets.
Having said all that, I think it is good pulp fiction - you just need to be in the mood for it and embrace the pulp.
As for the narrator: I think he is doing a decent job, but unfortunately sometimes gets the accents wrong so that character A will suddenly answer with the accent and inflection of character B. However, this doesn't happen very often and is only a minor annoyance and I found it always quite easy to follow who is saying what.
There is no sparkly fairy dust or unicorns to be found in "Hard Magic." No vampires, either, which is a refreshing change, I suppose. "Hard Magic" is written much like the hard-boiled detective fiction of the 1940s--but there's more blood and gore. It should appeal to the action-thriller fan. I bought it because I thought it would be amusing to read a story that applied the detective-thriller style to a book about people with magical abilities--and it WAS amusing. I am not a fan of blood and guts, but this was sufficiently cartoony that it didn't trouble me much beyond the occasional wince.
Bronson Pinchot does a good job of narration, though he had some phrasing peculiarities that distracted me at times. (I would repeat the phrase in my mind until I found the emphasis I thought worked better. Then I'd have to scramble to catch up with the story. But that's me.)
Take my rating with a grain of salt: I am not a fan of the hard-boiled detective story, and I tend to avoid stories with a lot of violence. If you enjoy these, AND you enjoy fantasy, "Hard Magic" may be just your cup of guts 'n gore.