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Hard Magic Audiobook

Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles

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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Winner, Paranormal, 2012

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Cassandra 02-05-16
    Cassandra 02-05-16 Member Since 2010
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    "More or less a comic book disguised as a novel"

    Hard Magic is another novel I picked up as a Daily Deal. I can't call it a graphic novel because there are no pictures aside from the cover, but that's enough to tell pretty much the whole story. Shoot em up bang bang. The characters are archetypes, and the novel is simple, plot-driven. I finished it just to make sure I wasn't missing something.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew LOUISVILLE, KY, United States 05-28-12
    Matthew LOUISVILLE, KY, United States 05-28-12
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    "Delightful mix of hardboiled fiction and magic"

    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).

    23 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig 08-23-16
    Craig 08-23-16 Member Since 2010
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    "Subtitle: The Forest Gump Family Reunion"

    Really enjoy the Monster Hunter series so I gave this a try. Was intrigued by the awards Bronson Pinchot had won for his performance. Balki? Really? I was curious. And disappointed. The story was alright, but too many of the voices sounded the same and most sounded like Forest Gump's closest relatives. Oh, well.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-13-16
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    "good but a little violent"

    very good. however, if you are sensitive to violence it was a little strong. loved fae.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lane Raleigh, NC, United States 01-17-16
    Lane Raleigh, NC, United States 01-17-16 Member Since 2009
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    "Ultimately disappointing"
    What was most disappointing about Larry Correia’s story?

    I expected better after the excellent Monster Hunter series. The character of Sullivan did not measure up as the hero. The character of Faye was not believable. The transition from ignorant teenage farm girl to all powerful savior completely lacked credibility.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Bronson Pinchot?

    Yes. This is solid work by Bronson Pinchot. I would listen to his narration again.


    Did Hard Magic inspire you to do anything?

    Skip the rest of the series.


    Any additional comments?

    I wondered if Larry Correia was pandering to critics that says his female characters are not strong enough. If he was, then he really went over the top.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sylvia 02-15-15
    Sylvia 02-15-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Didn't hold my interest"

    Didn't hold my interest I've read many books with same theme it may have gotten better I didn't finish it

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    aymeric angers, France 05-23-11
    aymeric angers, France 05-23-11 Member Since 2008
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    "A blissful reading"

    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.

    28 of 33 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-22-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Manfredi meets Merlin."

    I picked this up on a 4.95 sale, and was happily surprised. It's a unique hard boiled alternate history 1920's crime fiction. Bootlegging, bank robbery, Model T's, the Great Depression, Okies, Portuguese pride, helium derigibles. Larry Correia really covers his bases. It's like getting a window into the past, with magic. Famous quotes by Einstein, Tesla, Hoover, and many other notables are altered to make them appear to be Actives. The main character is an Active which reminds me of Marv from Frank Miller's Sin City, or Shadow from Neil Gaiman's American Gods. I would gladly have paid the regular price to hear this book.
    Bronson Pinchot has a very VERY masterful range of character voices. I mean this is a guy that can convincingly manage an Okie country drawl, and an aged Portuguese rancher, and make it sound easy.
    The only thing I could possibly dislike, is that his version of a certain slow speaking character is so convincingly hypnotic I have trouble staying awake, and catch myself holding my breath for the next word. He was probably intending that response. It's like listening to my history teacher on a warm day.

    16 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexander Davis-Jones Chicago, IL United States 01-21-16
    Alexander Davis-Jones Chicago, IL United States 01-21-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Compelling, but too violent"

    narrator has wired inyonation, but otherwise a very imaginative and fun story. Too violent for me to keep reading the series.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel 08-15-14
    Daniel 08-15-14
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    "Narrator ruined what seemed like a great story"
    What disappointed you about Hard Magic?

    I discovered this series shortly after listening to the Monster Hunter series by the same author. I was excited to immerse myself in a whole new world of magic and action. Things started out well. The plot seemed interesting and the abilities of the would be characters had me genuinely excited. However, I quickly discovered that the narrator has an amazing ability to give almost every character he voices the most..handicapped sound. The characters that I felt should've been tough and bravado have a lackluster, dull, simple almost southern drawl to the way he creates them. Even the females in the story seem to be intelligent, interesting, and somewhat deep by the text version, however, once voiced by the narrator I was left feeling like each character was dense, slow speaking, and utterly stupid. He ruined the story for me. I couldn't even finish the audio file due to this horrible reading. Judging by the reviews it's a terrific series. Should you venture down the road of listening to this book I hope that you find it easier to listen to that I could. Good luck.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Bronson Pinchot?

    Mark Boyett, Oliver Wyman, Jay Snyder, Michael Kramer, heck even C3PO would've been better.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • L
    7/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gabrielle Harvey-Jones
    5/17/15
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    Performance
    Story
    "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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • D. Deeks
    Ipswich, UK
    3/13/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr P Carty
    dublin, Ireland
    3/11/15
    Overall
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    Story
    "Good"

    Very enjoyable lots of interesting characters using historic references and a good story line what more do you need in a book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • elly gausden
    London, United Kingdom
    3/7/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Loved this book"

    The book is excellent and the reader is fantastic. Don't be put off (or fooled) by the 'comedy' cover illustration, this isn't any kind of parody or novelty story. It's a ripping yarn, loads of fun, but fun in a serious, gun-whelding, bone crunching, bloody kind of way.

    The description, much like the cover, is a bit off. It's more Boy's Own adventure thriller with magic than hard boiled detective. Thoroughly enjoyable. Have already bought the second book in the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lulu
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    3/5/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So American but Really Enjoyable"

    Great ready for southern belle accents, loads of bad language and descriptive emphasis on big guns and a complete, unique blending and overhaul of American war history!!
    Once you get comfortable with the bad language and the authors love with everything big, you'll begin to appreciate the author's intellect, his in depth knowledge and fascination with American history and probably physics which enables him to give a convincing and enjoyable re-telling of history!!
    I really enjoyed the book but, it's the narrator's performance that really did it for me, it really placed me into the world of all things American!!
    This book is not something I'd have readily picked, but I'm glad I did, it was a welcome change even though it would never make my top 100 sci-fi books to read!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Darren - UK
    12/11/14
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    Performance
    Story
    "An instant fav! I can't wait for the sequels"
    Where does Hard Magic rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Very high indeed! high literature its not but its fun colourful and full of imagination and character. This book has many likeable characters and an action filled pot it was a pleasure to read.


    What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

    it was an excellent performance and really brought the book to life.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I F Jentle
    5/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "All I could ask for in a fantasy audiobook!"
    What made the experience of listening to Hard Magic the most enjoyable?

    This series really does have it all. A cunningly well - wrought plot, engaging characters who change and develop as the tale progresses, adventure, wit .... and all of it brilliantly read by Bronson Pinchot brings the whole series to vibrant life. I cannot reccomend this whole series too highly.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way it changes history with a few "what if" premises.


    Which character – as performed by Bronson Pinchot – was your favourite?

    Sullivan, closely followed by Fay.


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • J. A. Gibson
    Blighty
    4/25/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing fun."
    Any additional comments?

    I listen to a lot of podcasts and while it might not be fair to the authors/performers i judge everything against my staple weekly diet of decoder ring theatre and scott sigler. This looked interesting as i had just come off the back of a dresden files novel and the rivers of london series in kindle format. I needed something for in the car and this sounded like fun.I was right.This novel expects you to keep up and pay attention while still holding the popcorn style fun factor. Sure it can be a little violent at times but nothing too bad and maybe the plotting is a little erratic but the characterisation and smooth delivery make it a superb listen. I enjoyed it so much I'm now going to download the next one. See you on the other side.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • tinyNorman
    Buckinghamshire
    1/25/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Top-notch steampunk swashbuckler"

    Awesome adventure story, keeps moving, lots of great characters, and the narrator hits it out of the park! Definitely goes to the top of my "must re-read" list!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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