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 purchased the book, because of the Monster, Inc. series. Loved the book. It is really cool having the alternate history, with the alternate magic vs technology. Love the main character. Reminds me of Harry Dresden. Buy the book, you will not regret it.
Freelance Illustrator, & Designer
I will most definitely listen to this again! I love when a sci-fi junky like myself can be surprised by a new mixture of magic and an unexpected scenario/plot.
The final battle on the fancy blimp, and Fae keeps blip rampaging - epic!
His voices were brilliant! You'd forget that one person was characterizing all of them as he shot out separate accents and pitches for each.
The ending... I won't ruin it, but I laughed and teared up.
GET IT! If you love magic, and new ideas put on old historical twists, love, friends, epic battles, and raging magic - this is a must 'read'.
I was fairly skeptical when I read the reviews by others here exclaiming how great this book was. I had just finished the first Monster Hunter book and was still deciding whether I really liked it or not. After listening to the first chapter of Hard Magic, I was intrigued. The faux-history was a bit weird at first as I was wondering where it all was going to lead but within the first few chapters, I was hooked by the cleverness and plausibility of each of the historical quotes.
I was happy that Hard Magic didn't follow the same formula as Monster Hunters in that although there was a bit of weapon terminology and discussion, it wasn't just for the bravado of the character(s) but rather for fleshing out specific props for the character.
The characters in the story were outstanding. I loved that Correia "bent in" real characters from history such as Pershing, Browning, Tesla, and Roosevelt to name a few. The lead bad guy was a bit "Voldemortian" but Correia still managed to separate him from the cliche boss with some interesting personality traits and a bit more ambivalence than just being "evil" plus an explanation of why he is rightly so more scary than any other magic user other than just being meaner or more psychotic than your run-of-the-mill boss. Quite the opposite it seems. The interaction between the characters was excellent as well whether it be between the Grimoire or the Imperium. Imperium weren't just all bad and Grimoire weren't all just good. There were shades of gray on each side driven by personal agenda just like in the real world. That being said, don't be put off by the Sullivan character being so similar to the Owen character of Monster Hunters, they are only similar in their build and bad-assery but Sullivan could kick Owen's butt any day (IMHO of course).
The magic world and its explanation throughout the story were very well done. Don't worry, if it sounds lame at first, there's a reason and logic to everything and Correia does a marvelous job of leading us through it while feeding us missing details throughout the book right up to the suspenseful ending. The creativity to come up with a design like that and the source of the magic was impressive, all the while keeping the concept of balance and real world physics in play. His inclusion of a magical history was another treat that kind of hints at where the timelines of our reality diverged from his. The many types and styles of magic were also a very cool concept but he left us open to possible "improvements" that each type of magic user could accomplish just by knowing how the system works. Everything is symbiotic so Ignorance in this world, is not bliss.
I was a bit worried about Bronson Pinchot's narration before I started to listen as I was afraid that I would constantly be picturing Balki speaking the parts but thankfully, he brings his acting talent to bear much to my satisfaction. His character voices are unique to themselves, for example, his interpretation of Harkeness' bizarre inflections were as annoying as they were surely supposed to be and his narration of Faye reflected her innocent naivety and growth superbly.
There's so much more that I could say but am afraid to ruin it for new listeners because Correia has designed a new world that leaves much to be explored and details to be discovered. I'm in for the next book and am sure that I'll love it equally. This officially satisfies my "Harry Potter" addiction. It's grittier and geared for adults and that's just fine by me. I just hope Correia keeps putting these out past Book 2.
I have never been more satisfied or excited about a book since Enders game. The writing and story are phenomenal! The narrator is amazing and ill look for more by him now as well.
Larry is quickly becoming one of my most favorite authors and I can wait for more from him!!
Just enjoying my readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmatic.
Definitely. I love the current trend where authors have been mixing very disparate genres. In this book, Larry Correia takes urban fantasy and puts it in a noir setting in the 1920's. The fantastical element being magic begins to suddenly appear in humans around 1850. So even though everyone has grown up with the idea of magic, it is not well understood and is still quite uncommon.
I guess I'd have to say Fay was my favorite. She was a "Traveler", or someone who could teleport themselves. I liked her country bumpkin simplicity. To her, everything was right or wrong, friend or foe, black and white. Even more interesting was her simple morality, if you were good you should live, if you were bad, you should die. And she had no compunction about ending those who she deemed bad.
Geez, these questions are terrible. If a book is written well, it should be a scene near the end, likely the climax, because each preceding scene should have been what culminated into a satisfying result. Since I don't want to give any of that stuff away, I guess I'll say this book followed that template.
I'm not writing a review for a 6th grade book report. I'm just going to skip to the additional comments now...
First things first, Larry Correia marries the two genres wonderfully. I suppose you could also call this story an Alternate History. I'm not sure I would. All genre quibbling aside, his alternate history is both well crafted and interesting. One subplot dips into the "why's" of how magic came to earth, which aids in building both his vision of the world and creates a foundation for the sequel. Speaking of which, I enjoyed this story so much, after I was finished, I purchased and downloaded the sequel right away. I suppose that's as good as praise gets.
Of course, the world makes for a nice place to visit in fantasy, but ultimately, it's the characters that makes a story worth reading. As is the modern convention, good versus evil is merely a matter of perspective and morality. This story is no different. Though in true noir fashion, the protagonist, aka Jake Sullivan, is the type of person we can consider to be "morally pure". By that, I mean, he always does what he feels to be the right thing. Considering the U. S. Hippy-Christian salted with a pinch of schadenfreude-ian Old Testament Eye-for-an-Eye mentality that many of us have been raised with, we're inclined to agree with his actions.
Basically, that's a long-winded way of saying Jake is sympathetic and likable.
In a nutshell, this story takes all the elements of fantasy, noir, and alternate history and blends them into an well crafted and interesting story. I highly recommend it!
Strong characters, novel re-write of history, unique alternative universe, all the threads pulled together, yet clearly leads to sequels.
Fay was my favorite character because of her strength, thirst for knowledge, growing powers, innocence.
Pinchot's performance was exceptionally fine with him creating new appropriate voices for each of many characters
Belabored description of fight scenes that grows tiresome
Hello, my name is Teresa and I'm an addict.
I'm huge fan of the MHI series so I decided to give this series a try. I'm so glad I did. It is very imaginative and fun. The narrator does an excellent job. I will admit that the story kinda has an x-men feel to it, but since I'm a fan of that I went along for the ride. The characters are great and there is lots of action. This is one of those books that it gets really intense and then switches to another character right when you are at the edge of your seat. The story line does take a bit to figure out what is going on, but once you are there it is a wild ride. Many people are saying they like this book better than MHI, and although it is excellent, MHI is better. For those of you who like steampunk/romance try Meljean Brooks series Iron Duke, it has some simularities to this story.
This was the first book that my boyfriend and I listened to on audible. We were going on a long road trip and wanted something to pass the time. I like fantasy stories and he likes guns. This worked out perfect. We are now listening to the second book and really hope a third makes it out.
We both really enjoyed the storyline and the narration of all the characters was wonderful. It was easy to tell them apart. My favorite was Faye. She was definitely the comic relief, and her character really had me laughing out loud a lot.
My bf really liked the way that the inventions and things in the book came from actual concepts that real people have thought of, but never got produced. Like the peace ray. It wouldn't be a hard stretch of the imagination that if in some parallel universe things like that were actually made and put to use. The same goes for the deridgables, or blimps, in the story.
So if you enjoy stories with magic, weaponry, mentions of a few famous people in a parallel time of this world, and good vs bad, then this is one for you. I definitely recommend it.
Narrated wonderfully by Bronson Pinchot, yes Balki Bartokomous from Perfect Strangers, narrates this book bringing the characters to life, it is a wonderful performance.
I am not usually into books about magic, when I was a kid there were a couple that I really enjoyed because of their humor, but as a rule I did not get into many magic or fantasy books. But this book is very different from anything I had read before with the exception of Mike Resnick’s "Stalking the Unicorn."
The publisher’s summary confuses me, I think it is written by someone who did not read the book, Jake is not a private eye, in fact he is a convict that is blackmailed by J. Edgar Hoover to hunt down people who are using magic in ways that the FBI does not like. Anyway…
What makes this book great for me is that even though magic is the main focus of the book it is written more in the fashion of a science fiction book than a fantasy one. It also includes many elements of a pulp-fiction mystery from the 50’s. Doesn’t that sound great?
Adding to that there is a delicate balance struck between explaining how the magic works, day-to-day living, and personal relationships that give the reader deep insight into the characters that many stories completely miss. Even though Jake Sullivan may be the "hero" of the story the other character all get moments to shine, I believe some reader will pick characters other than Jake to be their "hero."
Fighting is a regular feature of this book, there are long sections of the story that are detailing the battles between the characters. He does a good job with these but every now and then they do get a little tedious, but overall I do not think they hurt the story more than they add a feeling of action.
This is a fun, fast-paced magical thriller, with likeable characters that are not too far-fetched, and a interesting, complex universe.
What sets this apart from Correia's other work (which is quite similar in terms of plots) are the characters. They're all sympathetic, substantive, and real, even the bad guys. Stereotypes are well done, conversation is punchy and enjoyable, but still realistic, and character development doesn't seem far-fetched.
The performance is just spectacular. Might take a bit of getting used to at first, but the gruff, almost gritty narration fits into the overall feel of the story really well, and the different characters are easily distinguishable.
This isn't exactly canonical literature, but it's a fun story, and good company on long drives or at the gym. Definitely recommended for a light-hearted yet engaging listen.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"Lary does it again"
yes i would. I love worlds that dont do info dumps and let you pick it up from the rich world. laary creates a rich world that you fall into like no ones business.
browning as he made it possible to have 50 cals ina siege . it was awesome people.
he really brought a politicians skill to the story of changing everything round. was a dizzying ride.
yes there was joy and fun and definite kick ass moments.
there are some many reasons to listen to this books. strong characters. strong powers . kick ass moments all over the place. i mean he fell out of a zeplin. you just need this book in your library all over.
The Characters of Faye and Sullivan are great action hero protagonists. The rich story blended with real history make for a great listen
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!
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.
Smile more than laugh. Frown more than cry.
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.
"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.
"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!
"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
Very enjoyable lots of interesting characters using historic references and a good story line what more do you need in a book
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