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.
Finally finding time to enjoy my first love... "reading" ... in a whole new way that fits into my busy schedule.
I usually don't read this genre....magic...monsters...but the reviews of the book / narrator piqued my curiosity. I dove head first into this fun read and am I ever so glad I did. The plot was well thought out and not predictable at all. I particularly enjoyed all the "quotes" from historic people where, in this novel, shows the world we live in's history somewhat altered by the introduction of "Magic" in the late 1800's.
Bronson Pinchot was excellent as the narrator...I hadn't listened to him prior to this but I will be buying the second installment of this series right away and finding others read by him as well.
The dynamics. It is not a cookie cutter story in the slightest. Correia mingles more themes in this one book than most writers do in a lifetime of writing. Even better, he does this without them tripping over each other or detracting from one another.
The characters. They had depths like the Mines of Moria.
Jake because he had this drawl that made his character so believable. It tied together Jake Sullivan's best and worst aspects.
This was a superb book. It was perfectly dynamic; involving aliens, zombies, and magic all stemming from a simple premise that just makes sense. That itself is rare in most fantasy stories. More so is finding an antagonist you can relate to (which this book does superbly). There are a few things I could see people not liking about this book. For instance, the characters do spend some time talking about their guns. If for some reason you can not stand that sort of thing; To you I say, "Bummer." I thought it was great. Also, whenever I start a book, the narrators voice always seems off. It is just one of those things that happens whenever I switch between narrators. Although once I warmed up to Mr. Pinchot's style, I would not want it done any other way. He captures these characters perfectly. The people who did not like the performance mostly only listened to about an hour of the book and barely had enough time to get to know the characters. Sure Jake might sound like an oaf at first, but that is because that is the idea. His voice adds to the noir style of the book. Lastly, this is historical fiction. Take it as such.
This is one of those books I just bought based on the reviews. I'd never heard of the author before.
And it blew me away from the very beginning. Such a unique story that was full of great characters and action. The plot seemed to unfurl like a flower. Complexity, twists and turns kept happening that were truly surprising.
The narrator did a great job with all the characters and I think was a big part of why I liked the book so much.
If you like any sort of action or fantasy you will enjoy this.
Enthralling alternate history!
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell comes to mind, but so does X-Men. This is a genre mash-up but the sum is refreshingly original.
I SO did not expect "Balki Bartakamous" from Perfect Strangers to be a good reader, but Bronson Pinchot's reading was just one of the many pleasant surprises in this series. He doesn't "read" this book, he acts it like a radio play by different 20 people. Mr. Pinchot's ability to create and maintain specific voices for a huge array of characters is up there with Jim Dale's reading of the Harry Potter series. He really brings each character to life, and it's obvious he's read the series thoroughly ahead of time to create the personas and infuse them with a voice that fits their backstories. Mr. Pinchot is simply one of the best audiobook readers I've ever heard.
This book sneaks up on you. It starts off with what seems to be a small 1930's hard-nosed film noir trope (reinforced by the poor cover art), and slowly introduces you to an incredibly well designed alternate history of characters from Lincoln to Roosevelt to Edison.
A story this good, and reading this good, really deserves better cover artwork. The cover art for Hard Magic is cheesy, and the sequel Spellbound artwork is just dreadful. They make these look like cheap productions and hide the quality of the writing and the reading. It's true but hard to avoid - don't judge this series by its covers!
If you're on the fence read a few of the reviews because this was one of the most enjoyable "what the heck I'll try it" finds I've had in a long time. I'm only halfway thru the sequel but it seems just as good.
It's a little hard to listen to action being described and this one has a good deal of action. I think it would make a better movie than a book. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but as I continued to listen, I grew to like the main characters enough to want to find out what happens to them. The whole concept of people having special "powers" is very intriguing and makes for a good story. I'm not sure that I will continue with successor books in the series, but I did enjoy this one well enough.
The narrator was not overpowering, but the performance was really good, which allowed me to "keep up". Overall, I found the magic system similar to one that Brandon Sanderson employed in the Mistborn books, at least the "powers" were similar (I found). I also really enjoyed those books.
I really like Fay (although I think everyone is supposed to) - she was overly innocent at the beginning, but seemed to come into herself over the period of the book. I am interested to see where her powers lead her in the future. [I apologize if I have spelled her name wrong, the downside of listening rather than seeing names]
I had never heard a Bronson Pinchot story before, I would listen to him again.
I was fully immersed in this story from the minute I pressed play. Larry Correia has created a world so easy to relate to that the people within it seem to be almost immediately familiar. Character development blossoms at incredible speed and before you know it you are rooting for the Grims like they are old friends..
Sullivan, the heavy. You just want to see him squish something.
At first, listening to the sample, I was unsure if I liked Bronson Pinchot's narration. It seemed too slow of a reading pace to keep me interested. What seemed like a lackadaisical pace turned out to be an incredible ability to create a sense of scale by controlling the speed of the character's dialogue. For example, Sullivan's words are never rushed and are always even and steady (Just the way an immovable object should sound). On the other hand, Pinchot gives Faye a pace that is bouncy and unpredictable. How else would a teenage girl that can vanish and reappear on a whim talk? I am very impressed with his ability to convey the nuances of all these characters.
I listen to audio books primarily while I am driving. I know I have a good one when I find myself not wanting to get out of the car at my destination. This one had me looking for an excuse to take a long road trip.
Hard Magic is one of the best books I've listened to this year. I think this is the first Larry Correia book I've ever read, but plan to read more from him.
Three's not enough. I love Bronson Pinchot. He’s a wonderful character actor. I'm not completely sold on him as a narrator. He ends so many sentences with a sort of a lilt...almost like a question. It was a little distracting. Now that I've gotten that off my chest...his accents and voices are superb.
This book made me laugh and cry.
I would recommend this book to others.
I enjoyed the Monster Hunter series by Larry Correia thoroughly, and this new endeavor of his is even better. Top rate historical fiction with a heavy dash of film noir sensibility meet magical fantasy, and the results are delightful.
If I have one complaint about the performance of this audio book, it's that when faced with voicing so many different characters with accents from all over the globe, the actor falls short of the task. The Texas cop, midwest hick, and New Orleans' hooker all sound pretty much the same, for instance. But while somewhat dissappointing, this failure is mild and certainly doesn't diminish from the overall enjoyment of the story.
The reading is awesome. The characters come to life. I could feel the intensity, from happiness to sadness to laugh out loud.
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
Report Inappropriate Content