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Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles | [Larry Correia]

Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles

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 someoneto go after a suspected killer who has been knocking off banks in a magic-enhanced crime spree.
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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Winner, Paranormal, 2012

What Members Say

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  •  
    Mike Naka 08-04-13
    Mike Naka 08-04-13 Member Since 2012

    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

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    "great mashup of james bond, the x-men, and columbo"
    Any additional comments?


    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!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ethan M. Philadelphia 08-14-12
    Ethan M. Philadelphia 08-14-12 Member Since 2005

    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

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    "An original book with ninjas, pirates and zombies"

    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.

    38 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 06-18-13
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 06-18-13 Member Since 2009

    caffeinated

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    "I've taken the oath."

    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.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paris Drewvale, Australia 08-07-11
    Paris Drewvale, Australia 08-07-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Hard Magic is an Easy Pick!"

    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

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    chris clinton, UT, United States 05-08-12
    chris clinton, UT, United States 05-08-12
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    "Pinchot and Correia are a dynamite combo!"
    What made the experience of listening to Hard Magic the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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!?


    Which character – as performed by Bronson Pinchot – was your favorite?

    Tie between Faye and Sullivan


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Sullivan bring new meaning to "heavy duty"


    Any additional comments?

    Great, original book, with a good follow up with the second book. Like no story that's come before it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Corey Brookyln, NY, United States 07-12-11
    Corey Brookyln, NY, United States 07-12-11 Member Since 2009

    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.

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    "Buy this book"

    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.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 09-01-11
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 09-01-11 Member Since 2014

    I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!

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    "A little bit of everything"

    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...

    34 of 39 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Professor 01-05-13
    Professor 01-05-13

    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)

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    "Larry Correia did it again!!!!"

    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
    Super Powers
    Secret Societies
    Famous Events and Characters
    Alien Variable
    Interesting story

    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.

    21 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 12-10-11
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 12-10-11 Member Since 2013

    BJS

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    "Not what I thought it would be"

    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.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 01-26-14
    David 01-26-14 Member Since 2012

    Indiscriminate Reader

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    "Hard-boiled historical fun"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • HelgaCabbage
    UK
    8/14/11
    Overall
    "Brilliant."

    Another reviewer mentioned that they found the narrator's accent difficult to understand in places, but I thought all his accents and voices were spot on and superb. I didn't have any trouble understanding him.

    The story is excellent and unlike anything I've read before: a comic detective novel with plenty of action-packed magic, and more than a few moving scenes.

    The Grim Noir are a magical organisation sworn to protect the innocent - usually humans with magical abilities persecuted by both non-magical people and the sinister Chairman, who experiments on children and performs other atrocities in the name of strength and race purity.
    Jake Sullivan, former prison inmate and P.I., reluctantly joins forces with one of the few remaining units of the Grim Noir to protect the magical world from the Chairman and his most evil and feared Iron Guard - who also happens to be Jake's older brother...

    The whole story is told in exciting and action-filled chapters from the perspectives of several different characters - each with varying degrees of both magical ability and morality - that help draw in the reader and explain the rules of this reality, its history, and its current political situation, without any flagging of pace or feeling that you're having to get through a lot of boring exposition (which is often a common failing in the sci-fi / fantasy genre).

    The villains were realistic, their motives were understandable (if deeply flawed), and every single character was so brilliantly crafted, with such unique voices and perspectives, that it was truly a pleasure to listen to and I was sad to reach the end.

    I really hope there is a sequel, I would love to know more about the Knights of the Grim Noir (especially Fay, Sullivan, and Heimrich) and to know how they will tackle the continuing threat to the source of all magic.

    Lastly, I agree with the other reviewer; the 'historical' quotes at the beginning of each chapter added a sense of realism, and I loved them.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Elinor
    Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
    9/4/12
    Overall
    "Hard work"

    This book just didn't gel for me. There are a lot of fight sequences and I found these difficult to follow. I got the end of Part One and didn't bother with Part Two. I wasn't engaged by any of the characters. Entirely my fault as I wanted to try something I wouldn't usually read but sadly this genre isn't for me. As always though with Audible the quality of the reading is terrific.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Teresa
    Winchester, United Kingdom
    6/16/11
    Overall
    "Truly recommended listen"

    My only gripe with this book is that, on very rare occasions, about twice in the entire fifteen hours, the otherwise superb reader becomes difficult to understand due to his accent. This was nothing that couldn't be remedied however by a quick rewind and a little bit of effort put into a second listen.
    On the other hand this is an excellent piece of fiction superbly mixing a world of magic and power with 1930's America. The main characters are to a one engaging and more than enough to carry you through this pleasingly long tale on their own. The author has obviously put a lot of effort into altering earth's history to accommodate the power of sorcerers and this is emphasized by short sections at the beginning of every chapter, my favourite being a speech aboard the Titanic on its fifth anniversary voyage.
    If you enjoy this audible book then be sure to check out the Skulduggery Pleasant series while you wait for the no doubt excellent sequel.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    6/16/11
    Overall
    "Really Great Pulp Book"

    I just wanted to say i totally love this book. Interesting story and interesting setting to have it in. Really looking forward to the follow up.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • GWK
    7/26/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic fantasy"
    What did you like most about Hard Magic?

    The Characters of Faye and Sullivan are great action hero protagonists. The rich story blended with real history make for a great listen


    What did you like best about this story?

    At first I wasn't sure about how fantastical the story was (I expected a more subtle noir story). Once I readjusted my expectations of a more bombastic action fantasy I loved so much about the story. Great characters, interesting historical anchoring and the richness of the world and peoples magical abilities makes for a fun ride. Prep two more credits for the sequels!


    Which character – as performed by Bronson Pinchot – was your favourite?

    Honestly, I got used to Faye and Sullivan's voices as performed by Pinchot, but something was a little off for me. However his performance overall is worthy of five stars as he keeps the rest of the characters charming and interesting. I particularly liked Lance and Heinrich, but all of the supporting characters are great.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Smile more than laugh. Frown more than cry.


    Any additional comments?

    A great listen which begs the question: how could a sequel top this, but they some how do. Give it a try if your up for something different.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • L
    7/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Alternative timeline detective novel, with magic!"

    A great story, well narrated!

    Some really strong characters (literally), a solid plot and a great concept.

    This book was on offer from audible and it seemed a little extreme for my scifi/fantasy tastes and so I picked it up with scepticism, I was really pleased with my choice and after listening to the first chapter I was hooked.

    The book kept me gripped all they way through and left me feeling a little disappointed when I had to put it down, a good mix of magic fantasy and noir.

    For a sceptic I went on to progress through the next three books pretty much back to back, I would certainly recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gabrielle Harvey-Jones
    5/17/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Love a bit of Magic!"

    Very enjoyable - although not at all my usual sort of thing! I got quite caught up with the characterisation too!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • D. Deeks
    Ipswich, UK
    3/13/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A good start"

    Once you get past the first few chapters things settle down and start getting good. As this is the first book in a series you can see just how much world building the author is doing and how much of a slog it's going to be getting through it all but it's worth it. The world is full and fun, the characters are wide and varied, in style and abilities, and the story is simple enough not to confuse while your dealing with the origin story

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr P Carty
    dublin, Ireland
    3/11/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good"

    Very enjoyable lots of interesting characters using historic references and a good story line what more do you need in a book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • elly gausden
    London, United Kingdom
    3/7/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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