I don't think that Larry Correia can write a bad book. Pinchot however, still leaves me cold. Some of the characters that carried over from the last novel did not have the same voice as they did the first time. One that sticks out like a sore thumb is Jane. You'll note in this book that her accent is completely missing and now she all of the sudden sounds like any other American girl. I really wish that Oliver Wyman could have voiced this series as well. He is a better fit for Correia's writing. That said, this is still a fantastic book and I am excited for the next in the series.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
???You???re Heavy Jake Sullivan, aren???t you????
???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 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.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (science fiction) - Spellbound is Book 2 in the Grimnoir Chronicles, and it won Best Paranormal 2013 for a reason. Larry Correia continues with the same great set of characters and places them in another extremely imaginative situation. The story is set sometime maybe in the 1940's, with guest appearances from Roosevelt and Hoover. The Grimnoir are "actives," who each have a special power like manipulating gravity, teleportation, mind-reading, etc., and they continually must battle against "normals" who feels they should be subjected to testing and their powers controlled. There are a lot of Grimnoir and I actually had trouble remembering who had what power, but then I'm getting kind of old...
In this book the normals try to pin a Presidential assassination on the Grimnoir, and they even obtain magic of their own to fight them. The Grimnoir face hideous summoned creatures, so be prepared for lots of action. But this book has lots more going on than what I'd call "mindless action." The story is great as well. The planet-jumping predator who eats magic and destroys worlds (mentioned in the Audible summary) is discovered in this book but does not appear. Probably will be in Warbound, Book 3.
PERFORMANCE - Bronson Pinchot (yes, the actor) does a great job narrating. He gives unique voices to the characters, but some of his performance was just "off" enough for me to rate him a 4 instead of 5.
OVERALL - This story stands alone, but you should start with Book 1 and meet the characters from the beginning. Recommended for teens, adults, males, females, almost any audience except children due to some offensive language and all the violence. No sexual situations. I definitely plan to continue to Book 3, Warbound, which is already available on Audible.
Correia gives us just enough of the new along with just enough of the old in Spellbound. We get some dynamic new characters without losing the tight-knit feel of Pershing's Knights, we get some new villains and new stakes that are just as dire but from a whole new direction, and our understanding of The Power grows and develops very naturally, as if Correia had planned it this way all along.
Pinchot continues to amaze as he maintains his entire cast of characters from the previous book, and brings a while new set to life effortlessly.
A great stand-alone story from beginning to end, but with some new plot lines that will clearly continue into the third book. I absolutely devoured Spellbound after reading Hard Magic, and was eager for more at the end.
I thought that this was a great book, not just a great second book in a trilogy. I think that Bronson Pinchot continued to do an excellent job reading these books. I am totally caught up in this story. Now to wait for book three.
The only disappointment is waiting for the third book. An outstanding story, well narrated. The characters are rich and well developed. I enjoyed this series much more than the Monster International series, which was a good story in itself.
I'm an avid reader but when driving or exercising, listening to a great book and a great performance makes time fly!
Larry Correia did it again with this installment! Fun and action-packed, this book picks up about a year after the first book's end. Where the Imperium was the focal enemy in the first book, another, more sinister enemy takes the lead in this book.
Mr. Pinchot is perfect. Simply perfect.
I can't wait for the next installment in this series!!!
An exciting story with great narration! This is a gem, it doesn't fall into the cookie cutter trap of many of the new series. Very creative twists on history.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Less than a year after the California Knights of the Grimnoir's desperate attempt to save the USA from the Tesla superweapon of the evil Japanese Imperium in Larry Correia's Hard Magic (2011), the sequel, Spellbound (2011), begins with their being framed for the attempted assassination of President Roosevelt. Indeed, a new governmental organization called the Office of the Coordinator of Information is out to eliminate the entire covert Grimnoir Society. The mood in America regarding Actives (people like the Grimnoir able to access "the Power" to perform specialized "magical" abilities like telekenisis, telepathy, and healing) has turned dangerously ugly, and although the Grimnoir are dedicated to coexistence between Actives and Normals, they are "loved by few, feared by many, and hated by more." Worse, the Power, an alien entity who came to earth in 1849 and started seeding certain people with "magic" so they can grow it and feed it back to the Power when they die, is about to be followed here by its own super alien predator, the Enemy. To prevent the Enemy from destroying the earth, someone must kill its Pathfinder, and to have a chance at that, the Grimnoir may need to call on their Imperium archenemies.
If all that sounds involved and absurd, it is, but Correia tells his story with pulpy panache and appealing characters. Our favorite Knights from the first book are back, like Francis Cornelius Stuyvesant, a young Mover (able to mentally move objects) who's been playing the Bruce Wayne-esque millionaire playboy corporation head; Jake Sullivan, a hard-bitten, chivalrous Heavy (able to manipulate gravity) who's been researching magic and carving magical spell sigils into his own flesh; and Faye Rivera, a teen Traveler (able to teleport herself and other people and objects) who's possibly turning into the Spellbound, the vessel for the most dangerous and powerful cursed spell of all. Correia introduces some intriguing new Knights, like Whisper, a French Torch (able to manipulate fire) and Ian, a bitter Summoner (able to summon demons); X-factors, like the Japanese Iron Guard Brute Toru (able to access super strength and speed) and the Texas Justice Beverly Hammer (able to find people and detect when they lie); and antagonists, like OCI agent Crow (an amoral, scary guy with a long history of dirty work). And real historical people appear with alternate-world twists, as in epigraphs by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert E. "Heavy" Howard, and Geronimo, references to Babe Ruth and Jack Johnson, and cameos by Navy Lt. Heinlein and Raymond Chandler, who says when Francis gives him a tricky covert job, "I'm an accountant, not a detective." (Funny lines like that are many in the novel.)
As in the first novel, Correia revels in writing exciting and creative (and destructive!) small- and large-scale fight scenes featuring a variety of weapons (tommy guns, shotguns, 45s, knives, nails, katana, war clubs, etc.), machines (automata, dirigibles, magic nullifiers, etc.), powers (electricity, fire, gravity, animal possessing, spell writing, etc.), foes (G-men, demons, black domes of death, etc.), and injuries (broken limbs, burst eyeballs, punctured lungs, gunshot wounds, immolation, etc.). Correia is not above adding humor to the action, as when a nearly deaf and blind old woman sleeps through an apocalypse in her boarding house.
The novel has a libertarian thrust. The Grimnoir's raison d'etre is "to fight for liberty though it cost my life," and Jake is sick of men with "grand visions," "just a bunch of assholes trying to control everyone else." At one point Francis says, "Nothing like that [the government imprisoning all Actives] could happen here [in America]." But of course, it can happen here, and it's up to the Grimnoir to stop it.
Correia does some politically correct things regarding race, as in repugnant racist epigraphs by H.G. Wells and Jack London, Faye's opposition to segregation, and a white Knight's marriage to a "quadroon" woman. And he depicts a more complex side to the Japanese than in the first novel's one-note depiction of them as loyalty-crazed, inhuman eugenic experimenters bent on purifying the world.
Bronson Pinchot has great fun reading the novel, changing his voices for European characters and for Americans from different classes and regions, and for demons and men and women. I really like his deliberate, deep voice for Jake, and his Okie-naïve-girl-on-the-surface-cold-killer-beneath for Faye.
Spellbound is so entertaining that it almost teleported me past some flaws.
--Correia writes some bad lines, as when a man has "unfashionably large old-fashioned sideburns."
--His ends-justify-the-means villain mastermind is prone to typical flaws of such figures, being unable to resist gloatingly telling his plans to captured heroes, and generally seeming less brilliant than he's supposed to be.
--Although Correia generally obeys the limits to magic he sets up, as when Faye can't Travel outside a boarding house because of a dust storm, he also ignores such limits when expedient, as when she Travels into an OCI room that's "full of dust."
--Correia callously uses animals for humor, as when a Knight possesses a cow into the path of a speeding automobile to stop it and then has the cow, with all four legs broken, wink at the enemy and trash-talk him.
--Finally, although the plot of Spellbound has its own closure and prepares the way for the climactic third volume, I suspect that much of the entertaining second book is superfluous, for its necessary developments (re Faye and Toru) could come in the beginning of the third book, making a potent duology instead of a de rigueur trilogy.
Anyway, readers who like pulpy horror sf about super powers and "Cog" inventions (like a Thomas Edison-made spirit phone to call hell) with plenty of exciting action and appealing characters should like the trilogy.
'The Spellbound' is great fun. It's the second in a series, so read 'Hard Magic' first. You'll be glad you did.
For those who have read and enjoyed 'Hard Magic,' this book is sure to be a treat. Correia seems like he has a ball writing these books. They're not silly (not in the denigrating sense, anyway), but they never take themselves too seriously.
The surviving characters from Hard Magic are back, and some intriguing new characters are introduced.
Once again, Bronson Pinchot's narration is spot-on. Highly recommended.