Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles
2016 Book Challenge: a book based entirely on its cover
by Larry Correia
narrated By Bronson Pinchot
(historical fantasy, steampunk)
So this might not seem like the kind of book one would pick up based on its cover, but that’s exactly what happened for me. Looking at this cover, especially with the addition of the blurb on the back cover, I expected a detective story with magic and maybe The Mob. I expected something a bit Dick-Tracy-with-magic. That wasn’t quite what I got. I still enjoyed the resulting story, but there was a lot less detective work and a lot more description of weaponry and fights than I expected.
To sum up the plot with a few minor spoilers, it takes place in an alternate history. (1930’s to be precise.) At some point in this alternate past, an unnamed Power arrived on Earth, and created super-powered humans (called Actives) to help it fight off an enemy of its own. Of course, humans being who they are, they used these new powers for their own wars. There are alternate historical events (ie: the Titanic didn’t sink because someone was able to mend it; various historical figures who were crippled or died young were saved by Healers; and Cogs – super-geniuses – found a way to make blimps and airships the favored (and safe!) mode of transportation). Well, when you add these powers in to the first World War, you end up with atrocities worse than our history had (zombies, anyone?) and an ending to the war which prevented World War 2 as we know it. Instead, the Japanese Imperium is led by the most powerful Active, and he is seeking a device which would wipe out the US and set himself up as the world leader. An international group of Actives opposes him, and hence we get our story.
It’s a fun story. However, it’s billed as a detective novel. (It isn’t.) Our main hero, Sullivan, is described as a private detective on the back cover and in his introduction in the story. Which is great, except that he never really acts as a private detective. He runs around shooting people instead. And the descriptions of the gunfights had way too many detailed description of the guns themselves for my preferences. I zoned out during some of the fights because they either went on too long or talked about things I didn’t care about.
All of this is not to say I didn’t enjoy the story. I did enjoy it. I give it a sold 4 stars. But I’m not going to be picking up the rest of the series. I enjoyed this one book, but it had a tidy enough ending that I can happily finish with the book and consider it a stand-alone. (It isn’t. If you enjoy these detailed fight descriptions more than I, I whole-heartedly recommend you pick this one up.)