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.
I have never been a fan of period based fantasy or science fiction. I find that my knowledge of the period stops me from dispelling disbelief in what I read. So it is harder to relate to the characters. However Larry Correia has done a masterful job of interweaving Jake Sullivan and the rest of the US Grimnoir Society into the fictional fabric of American history.
And without digging to deep into the characters too much, I think that Oke' Faye is one of the most memorable characters ever.
And then there is Bronson Pinchot. What little I know of his work was a mid level character actor. After listening to Hard Magic, this saddens me. His performance in this book is unnerving. It is that good. It was as if he lived each character. Combine the performance level with the detailed level of development provided in the Larry Correia's writing and you have a winning combination.
I want more.
Avid reader and love that audiobooks opens a whole new sense
I could picture every moment, the clarity of picturing the unique environment created was stunning, the story moved a little too slowly for me and I'm not sure I will bother with part 2.
At first, I wasn't sure if I liked the story, but after listening for an hour or so, I was hooked. Great story, equally good narration. Will be reading Book 2 shortly.
Machinist, student of history, philosopher, Star Wars fanatic, hobbyist costumer, and all around Renaissance man.
I really enjoyed the little differences and explanations concerning various historical events and quotes in this alternate reality.
Bronson Pinchot's performance was excellent! His portrayal of each character was distinctive. I couldn't possibly choose just one favorite!
This book needs to be on film! It's destined to become a big budget blockbuster!
Bronson Pinchot gives a great performance and gives great voices to Larry Correia's characters. I really enjoy the Monster Hunter series and this has a similar flavor with some great new characters.
Don't be fooled by the cover which really really doesn't convey what's inside. Seriously please don't judge this book by its cover.
This was a surprisingly fun steampunk/alternative history, post-WW2, with the dark noir atmosphere magic/scifi comic book like action. And the enemy is the EVIL Japanese lord which I'd like to object to. However, to be fair I can totally imagine Japan under a dictatorship and become a nation blindingly following him. Unfortunately the author seems to have forgotten to check names so the main evil guy has a name with two last names instead of a first name but I can live with that.
In spite of all the cool gadgets like dirigibles, machine guns and nuke like bombs, I was most attracted to the characters in the book. They are in a way cookie cut superheros but are portrayed in a way you actually see them as people. On the other hand the villans were sort of predictable and boring.
Scenes and setting are definitely and deliberately described and set like a movie. Readers who are comicbook and managa readers will have just imagining the scenes.
*a bit spoiler*:
I also have to say that I found the explanation of the magic talents and how they develop is very interesting. The magic is caused by an entity that actually is alive and like a parasite they symbiotically live off human beings who can take magic power from it. It resides in a realm between life and death and only "very special" people can perceive it. However I would like to reread it to understand it better!
I can see how this book would be fun and inventive in its alternative history and magical flavor. I bought it thinking it to be along the lines of Dresden Files. But it's totally different. Not one to give up easily, I plodded on for 7 chapters but eventually the unrelenting violence and gore got too tedious. If you like shoot outs and stake outs and big guns and lots of macho violence, then this is one for you. Looks like mine will be the exception amongst all the rave reviews. This book is like a comic book audiobook. Full of Kerpows! and Bams! and Ouch! and non stop action.
I would recommend this audio book to lovers of crime novels, sci-fi, and thrillers. It has a great cast of characters and Pinchot is wonderful with all the different voices.
This is more of a story like the Avengers or The Justice League or the XMen. A group of hyper humans who are fighting evil and sometimes the people they are fighting to protect.
I laughed a lot at how Pinchot gave voice to Faye's character.
This book was a great listen and hard to leave. The narration is the best I've heard yet and it brings each character to life.
My husband and I listened to this while driving the hour back and forth to the grocery store and two hours never seemed to be long enough. We found ourselves discussing the plight of the characters in the book, wondering how Jake would ever manage to survive his magically altered nemesis, or whether the Pale Horse was a hero or a villain.
One of the things I liked about this series is the moral complexity; good people can do bad things for good reasons, and bad people can do bad things that may have some good consequences. At one point as we turned off the car I told my husband that I thought the book would kill me, since I spent so much time holding my breath during the intense parts. He informed me that he thought it would kill me because I spent so much time dodging bullets during the fire fights and was going to get in the way of his driving. Much of that is due to Bronson Pinchot's narration, which really puts you into the story. Altered histories and steampunk is a newly popular genre, and in this version, you can easily see the world as though it were the 'real' one, and I could easily visualize the blimp landing platform on the top of the Empire State Building. The quotes he begins the chapters with really add to the realism, reframing a quote from the Scopes Trial as though it were about magic, for example. You can easily see the conflict between 'normals' and 'magicals' and how that would add to the difficulties of race and class already within the 1930's worldview.
Bronson Pinchot is an amazing narrator, and his work added a great deal to the story. Even while playing a young "Okie" girl or a japanese soldier his characterizations always felt real, bringing life to the characters. I would read another book just to hear him read it, so I hope he is selective in the things he chooses to read.
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