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.
If you like intricate and well-planned magic systems, brilliant plots, exciting pacing, well-developed characters, and a perfect dose of stuff blowing up, Larry Correia's Hard Magic is for you. I love this story. It is mentally and emotionally completely satisfying, yet maintains a quick, light feel. It's fun to listen to. And even better: it's narrated by Bronson Pinchot, who is, without doubt, the best narrator I've encountered thus far. He does all the voices, not just distinctly, but vividly. The life that he breathes into each and every one is, well, just plain delicious. It's so good that I'm buying every book in this series both in hardback and as an audiobook--as long as Pinchot continues as narrator!
After reading the summary I thought it was going to be a detective type novel and even the first few hours of the book made it seem like it was going to take that path but as the story unfolds it becomes so much more. Unlike his other story (Monster Hunters International) this one is more focused on magic and goes into more detail on how the magic system works. In the end I ended up liking it a lot more then I did Monster Hunters International and I purchased all 3 books from that series.
The preview made me hesitate to purchase the book because I didn't like the narrator at first due to most of the characters sounding like dim witted oafs but I decided to take a chance and purchased it. I was gladly mistaken about the narrator and as the story went on and introduced more characters Bronson really began to shine. He gives each character a unique and easily recognizable voice except for a lot of the hired muscle that you run into at the beginning of the story. So if you are still on the fence about purchasing this book due to the narration in the preview give it a chance and you should be happily surprised.
avid audiobook listener, sociopath, nerd.
I loved the monster hunter books, so I figured this had to be good. It surpassed the monster hunter series for me. The characters are more developed, there is less time wasted on elaborate descriptions of firearms, and there's a whole lot of action. I can't wait to see what the next one has to offer!
This was a fun book. I would say its a mix of Sam Spade, Indiana Jones, the A-team, and and odd Alt-history. It might not be the best book I have ever read, but it was a great read.
Kat at FanLit
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...
I was worried (based on the description) that this would just be a weak dresden files knock off, but after listening to the Monster Hunter books I decided to give this book a shot. It's nothing like the description says, and much bigger and better than it sounds.
I sure can't wait for book 2. Characters are well defined and it's very easy to love the good guys.
It all starts as a noir novel that takes place in an alternative history where Magic exists but rapidly the noir side of the novel subsides to make place for a thrilling and suspensful magical, adventure story with emblematic characters.
I grew to like the way the book was narrated. Characters' voice is well-defined which makes the identification of each of them very easy.
Unlike a previous reviewer, I love the quotes at the begining of each chapter. They are, of course, all invented and through them you can understand how diferent his world is from ours (Hitler was executed in 1929 in Munich for example).
An awesome book, very highly recommended.
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.
Audible is my key to fitting my science fiction and fantasy pleasure reading into my schedule, so that's what you'll see me review here!
I'm a big fan of Butcher's The Dresden Files, which mixes the noir detective genre with contemporary magic/urban fantasy. I was looking for something similar when I came across Correia's Grimnoir series. My first impression of this book from looking at the cover and from the first chapter or so was that it looked like a really hammy alternative fiction with superpowers, but as I listened it opened up into an exciting, imaginative, highly-engaging adventure. In Correia's world, magical powers manifest themselves within individuals as superpowers around 1860, and Correia opens his chapters with fictionalized excerpts from famous people from Lincoln to Roosevelt to Woodrow Wilson as they comment on the influence of these powers on history. Each of these powers have specific uses and limitations that made me think of magic in Sanderson's Mistborn saga in that they are well defined and have their limitations, which allows Correia to show how the characters are being clever with their abilities.
The book follows two central characters in the early 1930s. Faye is an "Okie," part of a poor family from Oklahoma who was traveling west in the hopes of finding work and food. Her family ostracized her for being different, for having the power to "travel" in the blink of an eye, and sold her for $10 to a Portuguese farmer with a similar talent. Her new "grandfather," Joe, taught her how to harness her ability and taught her the value of hard work, but when his past catches up to him she finds herself on the road looking for revenge. Sullivan was a WWI hero and now is an ex-con working off his parole by helping J. Edgar Hoover and the new FBI track down dangerous "Actives" (people with powers). Sullivan may look like a big, brutish idiot, but he's sharper than he looks, and it's that intelligence that helped him discover the depth and breadth of his gravity-altering abilities while quarrying rock in the government's special prison for Actives. Faye and Sullivan become unwillingly embroiled in a conspiracy involving the battle between the menacing Japanese Imperium and a secret society of Actives all clamoring for a mysterious device of immense power.
The plot was very well paced with plenty of action AND character development. The story is told form a third-person limited point of view but Correia added enough voice to the prose and Pinchot's narration added enough flavor to keep Faye's and Sullivan's sections distinct and interesting, reflecting the inferiority of each character. Correia might have expanded on how individual magical superpowers are linked (or not) to the kind of magic in spells and writing a bit earlier as early on in the book I was wondering why we are calling it "magic" and why we wouldn't just treat it like superpowers a la X-Men. It was developed later on, but if you find yourself wondering the same thing, just wait a while and it'll be dealt with. I enjoyed the inventiveness applied in the alternate history of the late 19th, early 20th century as it didn't throw things too out of whack and played with the historical tensions that were already there including the growing concern of Japanese imperialism and the general relaxing of tension in America following World War I. I did, however, feel that the characterization Japanese was flat overall. While the only Japanese we see are soldiers of the Imperium and their terrifyingly powerful Chairman Tokugawa, as a people they did feel very "Othered" in this story: they come across as just part of a big, bad, conquering war machine and not much else. While this may be how they would have been seen by contemporary Americans since there was not a lot of cross-cultural understanding between those two cultures at the time, still it irked me a bit.
Overall, however, the characters feel vibrant and interesting, even the Japanese Chairman. I very much enjoyed this audiobook as it was a fun ride with inventive use of magic, thrilling action and adventure, and very affective characters. The book sets up the challenges and mysteries awaiting the characters in future installments well and left me hungry for more, so I look forward to downloading Spellbound soon. Pinchot's narration was very engaging and he has a good range for different voices. I would describe his narration as somewhere between James Marsters and Scott Brick (but maybe a Scott Brick who spoke in a quicker, more animated fashion).
Wasn't sure about this book but listened to the first 2 Monster Hunter International (which was cool that they were based in Alabama) and thought I would try this. I fell in love with Jake Sullivan. The quotes from and about 'famous' people were hysterical! The sequel, Spellbound, is already out in book form - but I'm going to wait for the audio. Just hope Bronson Pinchot will get the read. His voices were great.
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