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Editorial 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.

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Winner, Paranormal, 2012

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • Clinton
  • levittown, PA, United States
  • 08-06-11

Not what I thought it was going to be.

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.

182 of 190 people found this review helpful

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So Good I Bought the Book and the Audiobook

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!

69 of 74 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew
  • sunnyvale, CA, United States
  • 06-01-11

not just a dresden knockoff

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.

87 of 94 people found this review helpful

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  • Hallie
  • PIKESVILLE, MD, United States
  • 03-13-12

Better than Monster Hunters

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!

50 of 56 people found this review helpful

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  • Elliot
  • Tampa, Florida, United States
  • 10-11-12

Simply, the best audiobook I've ever encountered

WWI was fought, in part, with magic. Hydrogen powered dirigibles dominate the skies because wielders of fire can prevent Hindenburg-like incidents. Genius supplemented with magic creates supergeniuses (Cogs) that advance technology far beyond what was imaginable. Nikola Tesla provides an (extremely deadly) alternative to nuclear weapons... and I'm not even giving away the story!

This book is packed full of ideas and historical figures and characters that bring to life a parallel universe that you'll be convinced must exist. Every chapter begins with an in-universe quote, often from a real-life political or scientific heavyweight of the time, that provides a peak inside the heads of those native to the that universe, allowing us to understand how living in a world where magic exists might actually impact society, ethics, and science.

Bronson Pinchot absolutely dominates as narrator. His accents, articulation, tone, and pacing are so perfect for all of the major characters, and there are many. James Marsters of the Dresden Files has become my favorite narrator due to his ability to perfectly become the voice of whatever character he's reading for, but in this book Pinchot provides a depth of character that is unsurpassed. There are quite a few difficult characters to read for in this book, and Pinchot shines through all of them. He absolutely gets the subtle and well-deserved haughtiness of Japanese soldiers and officers, enhanced with magic, who are arguably the deadliest the world has ever known.

Hard Magic has historical fiction, urban fantasy, and science fiction absolutely covered. If you like the Dresden Files or other urban fantasy-type novels, you will definitely enjoy this book and the sequel. There are strong, capable female and male protagonists alike.

I will say that a few moments felt a lot like some superhero movies I've seen, and around the half point of the book, I felt like I was listening to a story based on the X-men Universe. But, don't fret. While perhaps inspiration and genre sampling from such sources may impact this story, it really is so much more than simple power flinging and devastation. Though, there is quite a bit of that.

Even after the sequel, I still want more. I can't wait for the 3rd book, and I really really hope that they're able to get Bronson Pinchot for the part.

35 of 39 people found this review helpful

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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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Lane
  • Raleigh, NC, United States
  • 01-17-16

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

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An original book with ninjas, pirates and zombies

First, ignore the hideous cover, which is one of the few downsides to the audiobook.

Second, you should note that by the end of the novel there are epic fights which seamlessly includes sky pirates, magic ninjas, and zombies along with death rays, sword fights, and wizards - all without invoking a single cliche or seeming at all corny. If that works for you, you should get this book.

Larry Correia knows how to write action scenes, and Bronson Pinchot knows how to read them, making this one of the more cinematic (in a summer-blockbuster-sort-of-way) audiobooks I have listened to. The setting is also better than expected, going beyond the expected magic-meets-Bogart to a much more sophisticated, and interesting world, which is helped immensely by a wonderful reading. The characters are generally interesting with great back stories, though they are a bit cartoonish in their abilities and motives; though that suits the fast-paced plot. Correia is a gun nut, and obviously is into military history, and he puts his talents to work in the story, including one of the most epic (and well-described) fight scenes on Audible - though you should note the descriptions are often quite bloody.

Overall, this entertaining, well plotted, and occasionally genuinely funny - a great "beach listen". And the reading is amazing. It can almost make you overlook the ugliest book cover in the universe.

51 of 59 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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

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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

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  • HelgaCabbage
  • 08-14-11

Brilliant.

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Teresa
  • 06-16-11

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Liam
  • 06-16-11

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Elinor
  • 09-04-12

Hard work

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard
  • 08-21-17

Just finish this book

so I have just finished this book to day I and i loved it
it is book 1 of 3 and I now have books 2 and 3 so looking for wood to them

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  • Bridget
  • 08-01-17

OK if you're into violence

To be fair this is probably a good book, it's just not for me. It's very violent and that put me off.

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  • K
  • 01-08-17

fast paced, thoroughly enjoyable

I went through this book in no time, listening at every opportunity. it was great fun, almost like a comic book. performed brilliantly. I've already bought book II

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  • richie69uk
  • 06-25-16

Outstanding

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.

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  • William
  • 09-21-15

Lary does it again

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

Who was your favorite character and why?

browning as he made it possible to have 50 cals ina siege . it was awesome people.

What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

he really brought a politicians skill to the story of changing everything round. was a dizzying ride.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

yes there was joy and fun and definite kick ass moments.

Any additional comments?

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.

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  • GWK
  • 07-26-15

Fantastic fantasy

What did you like most about Hard Magic?

The Characters of Faye and Sullivan are great action hero protagonists. The rich story blended with real history make for a great listen

What did you like best about this story?

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!

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

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.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Smile more than laugh. Frown more than cry.

Any additional comments?

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.

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  • Jarryd
  • 11-27-15

Succesfully combines Sci-Fi with Fantasy.

If you could sum up Hard Magic in three words, what would they be?

D&D, X-men, Sandbox

What was one of the most memorable moments of Hard Magic?

A "wizard" with the ability to teleport is given a shotgun. She proceeds to wreak absolute havoc, instead of being prevented (as one would expect). She taunts the enemy the whole time in her southern drawl, like Bruce Lee would have.Absolutely delightful.

Have you listened to any of Bronson Pinchot’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Great voices. You can hear him really get into the character Faye which means he tends to use her southern drawl a little in other scenes. The Pale Horse's voices is incredibly consistent, and allows the reader to EASILY follow his story line, so when he intermingles among other storylines, Bronson Pinchot fixes all the confusion that is caused.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It took 5 sittings.

Any additional comments?

Magic is explained in complete depth, just like how Biology and Chemistry can be explained. This is immensely satisfying.The story is complex, and almost sandbox is nature. People screw up in basic ways, complex plots take a lot of work, and the scenes are easy to visualize despite how crazy they become.If you are familiar with Shadowrun, then this is the book for you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mira
  • 12-10-16

Great story

A slow build up at the beginning of seemingly unrelated random stories which open the doors to a great adventure!!
A lot of great characters with humor and a few clever twists.

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  • Kat Catte
  • 03-29-16

Lots of gore, but interesting characters

This is an alternate history set in the thirties. What if magic really existed?

The characters are well drawn and I really wanted to know what happened to them. Great story Good against evil.

There are several different kinds of magic. Most 'actives' only have one skill. I really enjoyed the way they had to use brains to make their skills effective totally approved that brains won over brawn every time. I want to be Fay when I grow up. 😊

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  • Jeremy
  • 04-30-15

Loads of fun!

This book was really enjoyable, combining people with super-powers, lots of action and excellent narration!

It has great characters, original ideas, wry humour, and is very listenable.

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  • Bradley
  • 02-05-15

Damn good book

Whilst the Bronson Pinchot made most people at the beginning sound like dumb brutes, once the story got going it DID NOT let me go and Bronson really started to shine. I'm going to go get the next book NOW!

Read this book!