Larry Correia has already made a name for himself in the sci-fi/fantasy world with his Monster Hunter books, but now he's written the first in new series that takes place in New York in the 1930s, filled with dubious federal agents, hardboiled detectives, and dames with a whole lotta chutzpah. Except this isn't quite the New York you might expect, but an alternate universe where zeppelins moor at the top of the Empire State Building, the Titanic never sank and mad scientist Nikola Tesla has created a devastating weapon called the Geo-Tel. Oh, and people have magical powers. They are known as Actives. It's become commonplace for some people to defy gravity, teleport, manipulate animals, and heal by touch. The hero here is Jake Sullivan, a detective and ex-con who is set free by the FBI to track criminal Actives, which J. Edgar Hoover (yeah, he's still around) would like to eradicate.
Actor Bronson Pinchot has become a regular go-to for audiobooks and the reason is obvious – the guy knows how to bring a story to life. Far from his manic days as Balki on Perfect Strangers, Pinchot is a warm, imminently listenable narrator. He's obviously having a ball with Hard Magic, gruffing up his voice for the hardboiled Jake and the various G-men and employing a countrified voice for Faye, a young farm girl who can teleport across great distances and becomes vital to saving the world from destruction by the Geo-Tel. Pinchot gives each character a different voice, so it's easy to keep up with the big cast. Correia writes long, colorful descriptions of his characters and their situations, but those passages never become boring and never get in the way of the action, thanks to Pinchot.
Steampunk lovers will find much to love about Hard Magic, but listners who love big guns and explosions will be in hog heaven. There are epic, cinematic battles including one over-the-top of a dirigible that is audaciously impossible. Hard Magic almost defies categorization, because Correia has no problem blending science fiction with more fanciful fantasy, even managing to slip in double-headed dragons and imps. The second book in the Grimnoir Chronicles, Spellbound, is coming and let's hope Pinchot has signed on for the audio version. Collin Kelley
Jake Sullivan is a licensed private eye with a seriously hardboiled attitude. He also possesses raw magical talent and the ability to make objects in his vicinity light as a feather or as heavy as depleted uranium, all with a magical thought. It's no wonder the G-men turn to Jake when they need someone to go after a suspected killer who has been knocking off banks in a magic-enhanced crime spree.
Problems arise when Jake discovers the bad girl behind the robberies is an old friend, and he happens to know her magic is just as powerful as his. And the Feds have plunged Jake into a secret battle between powerful cartels of magic-users - a cartel whose ruthless leaders have decided that Jake is far too dangerous to live.
©2011 Larry Correia (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
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!
On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through
First, ignore the hideous cover, which is one of the few downsides to the audiobook.
Second, you should note that by the end of the novel there are epic fights which seamlessly includes sky pirates, magic ninjas, and zombies along with death rays, sword fights, and wizards - all without invoking a single cliche or seeming at all corny. If that works for you, you should get this book.
Larry Correia knows how to write action scenes, and Bronson Pinchot knows how to read them, making this one of the more cinematic (in a summer-blockbuster-sort-of-way) audiobooks I have listened to. The setting is also better than expected, going beyond the expected magic-meets-Bogart to a much more sophisticated, and interesting world, which is helped immensely by a wonderful reading. The characters are generally interesting with great back stories, though they are a bit cartoonish in their abilities and motives; though that suits the fast-paced plot. Correia is a gun nut, and obviously is into military history, and he puts his talents to work in the story, including one of the most epic (and well-described) fight scenes on Audible - though you should note the descriptions are often quite bloody.
Overall, this entertaining, well plotted, and occasionally genuinely funny - a great "beach listen". And the reading is amazing. It can almost make you overlook the ugliest book cover in the universe.
I loved everything about this book. The characters were interesting and likable/hatable. The story was well told, with plenty of unexpected twists and fresh ideas. I really like the alternative history meets science fiction/fantasy convention. I was sad that it ended, but glad to know there was another book in the series. I will gobble that one up very soon.
I personally pledge allegiance to the Grimnoir.
Also, I want to say something about Bronson Pinchot. The guy is an amazing, amazing narrator. Sure, he was fun to watch on TV and in the movies. But reading books like this one, as well as others (Matterhorn springs to mind) seems, to me at least, to be the ideal expression of his particular performer's genius. He is working his butt off here and as a listener, I can't thank him enough. He can create a dozen characters, male and female, and each one stands on their own sonic merits. I work in the audio medium from time to time and I know how difficult such a thing is to accomplish, and I just have to say, bravo, Mr. Pinchot. You make it look/sound easy.
I came into this book with little expectation. Having heard the first two Monsters Inc. Books, and enjoying them, I thought I would give this one a go.
I really enjoyed the story, found the concepts intriguing and the characters solid. The voice work of Bronson Pinchot added depth and brought the characters to life, making this a 5 star pick for me.
Looking forward to the next book in this series
I love it and respect when a single narrator can portray a different voice for each character, male and female, several nationalities, and keep it straight throughout the book. Every time Mr Pinchot reads dialogue, you can identify who's doing the talking, and he really brings the characters to life in my head. If you've ever listened to Correia before you know he loves describing all the firearms with passion of a real shooter and he brings that to this series as well but to a lesser degree, which to me is a nice change of pace and allows room for the brand of magic involved as well as how the magic affects the martial arts in this book. I feel this puts this series on a leval above monster hunters intl, which I was a fan of and led me to give this a try.
The story,plot,setting, and characters are improved over MHI, but my hat's off to Mr. Pinchot for stealing the show.
The villian, The Chairman. I love it when things aren't black and white. By defeating the unbeatable villian you risk running into a worse villian, then wishing you had the help of your defeated foe!?
Tie between Faye and Sullivan
Sullivan bring new meaning to "heavy duty"
Great, original book, with a good follow up with the second book. Like no story that's come before it.
Hi, I'm an alumi of NYU and I'm also huge into MMA. I love books I read a lot and review the stand outs. I'll give you guys the goods.
You owe it to yourself to buy this book. This author is amazing and ORIGANAL! This novel is a bit of a departure from M.H.I but in a great way, that makes it stand on it's own. The characters are very deep and easy to fall in love with. The action secqances are amazing. In short I loved this f--king book.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Jake Sullivan is not your average Heavy. He spent his jail time honing his skills and improving his mind and now he???s J. Edgar Hoover???s super-weapon, useful for fighting Fades, Torches, Brutes, and any of the other Actives who are using their magic for criminal purposes. Jake doesn???t like being used this way, but it???s his ticket out of prison. When the FBI asks Jake to bring down Delilah Jones, the Brute who used to be his girlfriend, Jake gets caught up in a world-wide battle that involves magic, mobsters, zombies, zeppelins, Ninjas and Nikola Tesla???s peace ray.
Knowing that Larry Correia was into big guns and B movies, I wasn???t planning to pick up Hard Magic, the first of his Grimnoir Chronicles. It doesn???t really sound like my kind of thing. But then I noticed that it was released in audio by Audible Frontiers (who always do a superb production) and narrated by actor Bronson Pinchot. I decided to give it a shot, and I???m glad I did. Even though it is a bit too gory for me, Hard Magic is an exciting story with a fully-developed world, a cool magic system, terrific characters, and some hard-hitting action scenes.
I won???t even try to classify Hard Magic ??? it???s urban, it???s alternate history, it???s paranormal, it???s steampunk, it???s romance, it???s horror, it???s noir ??? it???s a little bit of everything. The story is set in an alternate 20th century between WWI and WWII. Magic talents have evolved in some humans so that each Active has one particular skill. For example, Jake Sullivan can alter gravitational forces, making himself or other objects light or heavy, Torches can set or put out fires, and Brutes have super strength. In addition to these heritable magical skills, the Germans have developed a way to create zombies to keep their soldiers fighting during The Great War, and the Japanese have developed their own nearly indestructible human super-weapons which they call the Iron Guard. And everyone wants to find the missing pieces of the machine that Nikola Tesla built...
1*=I didn't like it..... 2*=It was OK...... 3*=It was good but I will never read it again.......... 4*=Maybe I will read it again in the future.............. 5*=I will definitely read it again(maybe more than once)
Publisher's Summary is the worst kind possible!!!!
It tells facts which definitely relate to the current story
but it doesn't tell you the most important bits, so let me:
Alternate Universe 1930s
Famous Events and Characters
And all of it written by Larry Correia (author of MHI)
If you need any more reasons to spend your credit, listen to the sample and enjoy amazing narration by Bronson Pinchot.
Larry Correia knows how to spin a story, Bronson Pinchot did a wonderful job at narration. I never heard him narrate anything, Pinchot is excellent at voices and expressions. The story was a bit confusing to me the first 15 minuets, But once I figured out the premise, the action NEVER STOPPED. This says Book 1, I do hope that Audible will be getting book 2 when it is available. It was truly an enjoyable surprise.
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.
"Loved this book"
The book is excellent and the reader is fantastic. Don't be put off (or fooled) by the 'comedy' cover illustration, this isn't any kind of parody or novelty story. It's a ripping yarn, loads of fun, but fun in a serious, gun-whelding, bone crunching, bloody kind of way.
The description, much like the cover, is a bit off. It's more Boy's Own adventure thriller with magic than hard boiled detective. Thoroughly enjoyable. Have already bought the second book in the series.
"So American but Really Enjoyable"
Great ready for southern belle accents, loads of bad language and descriptive emphasis on big guns and a complete, unique blending and overhaul of American war history!!
Once you get comfortable with the bad language and the authors love with everything big, you'll begin to appreciate the author's intellect, his in depth knowledge and fascination with American history and probably physics which enables him to give a convincing and enjoyable re-telling of history!!
I really enjoyed the book but, it's the narrator's performance that really did it for me, it really placed me into the world of all things American!!
This book is not something I'd have readily picked, but I'm glad I did, it was a welcome change even though it would never make my top 100 sci-fi books to read!!
"An instant fav! I can't wait for the sequels"
Very high indeed! high literature its not but its fun colourful and full of imagination and character. This book has many likeable characters and an action filled pot it was a pleasure to read.
it was an excellent performance and really brought the book to life.
"All I could ask for in a fantasy audiobook!"
This series really does have it all. A cunningly well - wrought plot, engaging characters who change and develop as the tale progresses, adventure, wit .... and all of it brilliantly read by Bronson Pinchot brings the whole series to vibrant life. I cannot reccomend this whole series too highly.
The way it changes history with a few "what if" premises.
Sullivan, closely followed by Fay.
I listen to a lot of podcasts and while it might not be fair to the authors/performers i judge everything against my staple weekly diet of decoder ring theatre and scott sigler. This looked interesting as i had just come off the back of a dresden files novel and the rivers of london series in kindle format. I needed something for in the car and this sounded like fun.I was right.This novel expects you to keep up and pay attention while still holding the popcorn style fun factor. Sure it can be a little violent at times but nothing too bad and maybe the plotting is a little erratic but the characterisation and smooth delivery make it a superb listen. I enjoyed it so much I'm now going to download the next one. See you on the other side.
One of the best series in my audible library so far.
You'll have to listen to it yourself ;) The Story is great.
Sullivan. Such a great character and amazingly brought to life. Faye is a close second.
After Monster hunter (by the same author), this shows the author developing. Along with the narrator being great for this story, thoroughly enjoyed this and the rest of the series.
"Top-notch steampunk swashbuckler"
Awesome adventure story, keeps moving, lots of great characters, and the narrator hits it out of the park! Definitely goes to the top of my "must re-read" list!
"A whirlwind action fantasy"
If you want fast pace, gun toting action incorporating a bit of magic thrown in to add spice then you could do a lot worse than this. I can't put my finger on why I liked it, but I did and I'll be getting the whole series. Though it's a audio book it's one "I couldn't put down" ;-)
"So much more than the synopsis"
Not my usual kind of book (that's more hard SF) but the steam-punk was "coherent" and that was a pleasant surprise and the story is good...
It's much more than you would expect from reading the editorial synopsis - that synopsis takes you about a quarter of the way into the story. In the rest you'll learn more of this world's magical paradigm, the heroes save the world and a soul.
"Good Read and Narration"
I liked this book it was livley and fun to listen to, with a good narrator who kept you interested.
It reminded me of the Mike Hammer/Mickey Spillane novels cracking stuff and I look forward to his next one.
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