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.
This is hands-down the favorite audiobook I have my 160 + library. (I have all the Larry Correia books).
Probably have listened to it six times. Excellent story and Bronson Pinchot is quickly becoming my favorite narrator as well. Does a fantastic job. I even picked up a couple books I normally would not have just because he was the narrator, he is that good.
The author never disappoints. I have never purchased one of his books and regretted it. Everyone could be listened to several times
I've always loved books. Even before I could read I've loved them. Fact or Fiction, I love books. I'd sooner read a book than see a movie.
Where do I start raving about this book? The narrator, Bronson Pinchot (who you may remember him as Balki on Perfect Strangers) creates the best character voices I've ever listen to. Each main character (and there are many) he performs has their own cadence, tone and accent. He is just one of the best narrators I've ever listen too. So listening to this book again would be just as enjoyable as the first. Another reason to listen to this again would be the story and the wonderful and creative characters. Larry Correia's writing is far better than James Marsters' Dresden Files. That's just my opinion, sorry Marsters. I know we live in the same town and everything, I just could never get excited reading your books. But I am excited to listen or read any of Correia's books!
Correia story-lines, for each of his main characters, approaches (the ever present evil which threatens) from a different angle. They have their own unique magical ability, and they have their own reason to fight for their own cause, bad or good. The story showed how family can have apposing views and needs. Some may turn to evil and some to good, and it's not just their own up bringing or nurture which dictates it.
Who was my favorite performance? That is a toss up, it's either Fey or Mr. Jake Sullivan. Fey the 16 something, naive Traveler, but a power-house, Okey? Or the seemly dumb acting Heavy, who is secretly the most intelligent? Both are just amazing. You wanted so much for them to win, and not to die, it just kept you on the edge of your seat through out the whole book.
There are many good laughs in this books, especially due to the naive Okey's exuberance in her performance of her powers. Yes there are many tears and sadness due to the lose of lives in the book. I hate it when a character dies just when you begin to love them.
Get this book, you won't regret it. I'm now a huge Larry Correia fan!
I would consider listening again. Bronson Pinchot's performance significantly enhanced the story.
It reminded me of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" quite a bit. There are numerous alternate reality stories out there and they are generally not that appealing to me. However, this one had some interesting twists, combined with the magic angle, that made it quite an enjoyable fantasy.
This is the first book I've listened to that was narrated by Bronson Pinchot. Frankly, I can't imagine a better performance by a narrator: he was that good.
Saving the World that Might Have Been
I usually shy away from a book with "magic" in the title or description... just not my thing. However... after taking a risk, I'm happy to report that this is a well-written, well-read story full of fun and plot twists. If you ever got into an alternate reality book and enjoyed it, you're missing out if you don't check out the Grimnoire world.
The bottom line... good writing is good writing, regardless the genre. I'll get the second book in the series after writing this review.
The author had taken what is familiar in the magical world and put his spin on it so well it does not get old. He does this by creating fantastic characters that you pull for and also want dead. The late 1800's is a great setting for magic. This series is worth the listen and a read.
On a personal note I could have did without the "f - word". He handles the sex and violence with a deft hand. Less is more. If there was not so much profanity (there is not a ton but enough) I could have my 12 year old read this series.
I like a book that mixes horror and comedy - it's an awkward blend of suspense and release.
Though I enjoyed the first Monster Hunters book, I felt it was a little too cliche, too much attention on gun details. I still enjoyed it, but it was just too close to a Captain America graphic novel maybe? I don't know.
When I heard about this series though, I was thrilled. I love Film Noir, so I took another chance. I'm so glad I did.
Bronson Pinchot KILLS IT on this book. Such amazing narration, it really should be called "re-enactment" when he narrates a book. It's not just a nice voice reading a book for you. He adds subtle inflections that really sell each character's personality, motives, etc. I don't know how he did it unless Correia was sitting right next to him saying, "okay, he SAYS this but really isn't sure he means it, so there's room for doubt when the other guy hears him."
Anyway. This is probably my second favorite book I've bought from Audible, (Christopher Moore's "A Dirty Job" narrated by Fisher Stephens is my favorite, for all the same reasons).
Great story, fantastic characters, innovative concept, world-building without 200 pages of prologue, and fantastic narration. Judging from the ratings and reviews of the other two Grimnoir books, I can't wait to read those too!
I loved this book. I listened to it again in anticipation of the third sequel (Warbound), and I raved about it so often that my husband agreed to start listening to it. He rarely goes for science fiction but he is hooked on this one.
The story is a truly creative alternative history of the early thirties, and I liked the chapter prefaces that featured quotes from real historical figures, tweaked to mirror the storyline. The characters are well-developed, and it was impossible not to care about them. My favorite is the teenaged Faye, who turns out to be tougher than all the others combined. There are plenty of weapons and fights, building to a spectacular finale. The ending is very satisfying, and this story stands nicely on its own. But wait, there's more! The adventures continue with Spellbound...
This would have been a great read, but the audiobook is catapulted into the realm of fantastic by the narrator. Mr. Pinchot creates a unique and perfect voice for every character, from Jake's slow deep-gravel drawl to Dan's measured enunciations, to Faye's 'Oakie' accent, to the skin-crawling misplaced syllables of the Pale Horse.
I got Monster Hunter International after I finished this book, but for me it doesn't compare.
Hard Magic made it onto my desert island list.
I happened to notice this book while browsing for something new. I had never heard of the title, but I had heard of the author via the Monster Hunter series. However I had never read any of his books before.
I enjoyed the character development. The principal players are diverse, interesting, and are good people to spend time with. Even the villains.
Hard to top the climax of the story. But Jakes battles with Maddy really added a level of sophistication and conflict that was very satisfying.
The female leads and the relationships to the others were great story lines. Jakes relationship with Delilah was particularly poignant. And Faye's character was both a treat and a key plot point as she strove to avenge her grandfather.
Bronson Pinchon did an outstanding job reading this story. Great dialects, pacing, and tone. I hope he chooses to do more of this work as his involvement will be a huge selling point for me. I highly recommend this story and I've already purchased and started the second installment of the series.
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.
Great story, creative narrator who voiced each characters differently and made the characters come a live and each their own personality. Loved it. Already got next book in series.
"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
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