Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Magic Slays
Ilona Andrews
I pre-ordered the signed edition of this book from Powell’s ages ago but it took me some time to get to it once I got the book. I just didn’t want to make the experience go too soon! This is one of my favorite UF series and is book 5. If you haven’t started this yet, I highly recommend that you do (read at least the first two books):
 
Book 1: Magic Bites – Goodreads
Book 2: Magic Burns – https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
Book 3: Magic Strikes – https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
Novella – Magic Mourns in Must Love Hellhounds anthology – https://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
Book 4: Magic Bleedshttps://i2.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg
 
***** This review has spoilers for earlier books, read at your own peril!  *****
 
The Premise:  Kate Daniels has quit the Order and gone into business on her own, backed by Atlanta’s shapeshifter Pride.  Unfortunately she didn’t leave the Order on good terms and they’ve done all they can to sully her reputation. Business is so slow it’s non-existent, and Kate has been twiddling her thumbs for months. Then two things happen. First, a vampire escapes the control of its navigator, and Ghastek asks for Kate’s help to contain it. Then a member of the Red Guard hires her to look into the disappearance of an engineer and applied magic-theorist along with the project he was working on. These are both simple enough assignments on the surface, but much more rides on Kate understanding whats really going on.
 
My Thoughts: Whenever I start a Kate Daniels story, I expect to be pulled into a high action melee spiced up with a bit of romance courtesy of the Beast Lord. In this aspect, Magic Slays delivers exactly as promised. Once chapter one begins, Kate is back to business. Disaster strikes when a vampire gets loose and then Kate finally gets a job, but it seems too simple a job for the Red Guard to be paying her to do it. Of course it isn’t long at all until Kate is up to her elbows in trouble, but the difference here is that this job requires more finesse than Kate has shown in the past. Magic Slays has a more restrained Kate, who tries to use more investigation than muscle.
 
The story is also a little different because Kate’s life is different. This book has the same Kate, but she’s no longer with the Order nor does she live alone in her Atlanta apartment. Now she lives in the Pack stronghold, and her day-to-day frustrations include her status within the Pack, trying to start up a business, and mentoring a group of teenaged misfits, including her own ward, Julie. This makes Magic Slays the first book in probably the next chapter in Kate’s life, and for that reason I found it very different from the rest of the series, but in a good way. This feels like a “turning point” book. It feels like Kate finally has self-made family around her, and I also felt like Kate is beginning to make concrete plans for the final confrontation she’s been heading towards throughout the series.
 
In the romance front, things are also different. For the longest time, Kate has been dancing around a romantic entanglement with Curran, but now they’re in a committed relationship. Things aren’t completely stable however. Usually when there is a slow burning romance over a series of books, the magic can disappear once a couple finally gets together, but that isn’t the case here. I thought that the way Curran and Kate’s relationship progressed in Magic Slays made it one of the best books I’ve read with a couple after they finally hooked up. I loved that things were still being ironed out, that they were still learning how to live with each other, and that they both still had insecurities. They’re happy, but at the same time, they’re human and this book reflects that. I loved that they’re both essentially the same characters and being together doesn’t change who they are. They still have the same back-and-forth relationship after they’re together but we know that they love each other.
 
Overall: Another great installment. I don’t know how many ways I can say the same thing after I read one of these books, so just imagine me pressing this book into your hands, nodding enthusiastically. If you haven’t read this series…seriously, read it will you? I think the last one I read always ends up being my favorite.  The great draw for me is the mix of great worldbuilding (a post-apocalyptic Atlanta, flooded by waves of magic and technology), action, and romance, but what elevates it even beyond that is a snarky brand of humor that’s used judiciously. Smiling because of Kate’s exchanges with Curran or best friend Andrea? Now that’s real chicken soup for the soul.
 
Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository
 
Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook – positive
Angieville – positive (“Crunchy Kate goodness at its best”)
One More Page – positive
SFF Chat – positive
Calico reaction – 8 (Excellent)
Fantasy Book Cafe – 8/10
Smexy Books – A
Lurv a la Mode – Four scoops (out of 5)
One More Page – positive
Fiction Vixen – A
Babbling about Books, and More – B+

Book Chat – The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

Book Chat

Since The Mister (aka the guy I married), is a Brent Weeks fan, I let him read my review copy of The Black Prism before I did. [The Mister: My wife is supremely awesome for letting me drench myself in Weeks’  fantasy before her]. Although The Mister didn’t want to write a review, he did agree to do a book chat with me. This is my last Brent Weeks post for a while, I swear.

So here goes (Big spoilery bits blacked out. Highlight and read at your own peril):

1

OK, so first question: So if you were to describe this book to someone else who you were pimping the book to, what would you say about it?


2

So what, you want me to give some flashy summary blurbs? uhm..

The Black Prism follows the life of Kip, a kid from a rural town who  suddenly finds himself thrown in to a world of magic, war, and general mayhem. Luckily for us, the stereotype doesn’t much hold up as you dig in to the details. To be honest I’m not sure if Kip is intended to be the protagonist, and I suspect that’s intentional – from the start, the character building is a bit twisted in an enjoyable way. There are  some details of the immediate gratification type, but also some longer term building, with all of the *-agonist characters. As an aside, I expect there will be some negative criticism of how some of the characters have been designed (particularly Kip), but those critics are short-sighted.

On the larger scale, The Black Prism is the story of a kingdom still recovering from a civil war now 16 years past, with divisive rulers of uncertain power…basically, poised to drop right back in to war. The construction of the world has some obvious heritage, but also enough unique touches to avoid the feeling of been-there-done-that. It has a good balance of being fantastic enough that you can escape in to it (color magic, low/medium-tech culture, moderately detailed side info on geography, politics, etc), but not so out there that a reasonable imagination can’t find a way to connect their world with ours (“humans” are the only sentient race, swords + armor + guns, …).


1

I agree, there are multiple points of view but it was done well, with probably Kip and the Prism, Galvin Guile as the two most important protagonists. I also liked that Kip was this overweight kid who felt very uncomfortable in his skin and always mentally berates himself for things that come out of his mouth. I also agree that while this world has some familiar fantasy elements, Weeks makes it his own. I particularly loved the magic aspect of the world building.

Comparing this to The Night Angel Trilogy, I notice a couple of themes – teen boy with a mentor, unvoiced love, and secrets! Do you agree?


2

I dug the mechanics of the magic as well. Color magic has been done before in various ways, but not like this. The simple physics of the (slightly tweaked) rainbow combined with details like having to squint just-so to see superviolet…good stuff. It’s believable in the context of the world because, who could make it up? (Yes, you in the aisle seat? Ah. Well yea, obviously it IS made up. You’re missing the point)

Actually, I hadn’t yet thought of The Black Prism in comparison to the Night Angel crew. The themes are generally there but the distinctions may be more interesting. Kip and Azoth each end up with very powerful mentors, both arguably of similar convictions at one point or another; but whereas Azoth showed hints of strength from the beginning, and sought out Durzo, Kip fumbled “fatty-style” all over the place until he happened to fall in to Gavin’s lap.

There are more similarities, I think, in the unvoiced love and secrets categories. Both Azoth and Kip have big hearts from the start, which of course makes them likable even when they’re killing (in Azoth/Kylar’s case) or doing bad/stupid things. Their love isn’t limited to romance though; Azoth’s first kill is driven at least initially by his love for Jarl, and Kip’s first acts of bravery are to save others (admittedly along with himself), and they occur before Liv is anywhere near the picture. From there though, as with the mentorships again I think the examples diverge. Both have loves that are initially unvoiced, but in Azoth’s case, it was easy to understand Doll Girl’s initial adoration, and eventual love for him. In Kip’s case, it’s easier to imagine that his love will be revealed but unrequited. Not because of physical appearance necessarily, though that may be considered, but because I get a sense that Kip is simply much more fragile than Azoth. He’s being forced to grow up ridiculously fast, and he’s learning a lot about his strengths, but he’s not yet having to face his weaknesses on a grand scale (no pun intended, and Thresher notwithstanding). I’d think that would be a great detriment for him having any sort of relationship with Liv – his continued weaknesses may serve to keep him as a pre-teen in her mind.


1

I was thinking about Gavin in the unvoiced secrets/feelings arena too. Yeah, hmm, Kip is in many ways more vulnerable than Azoth was – he shows the world a glib face but his inner self confidence is not there yet, and Liv sees him as a kid, but then she’s older than him, (he’s 15, she’s what, 17?) so of course she would.

Anyway. New topic. When I read Weeks books, I sometimes worry about what will happen to the characters I like because there are often crazy twists. Do you feel like that too? And what do you think of some of the bombshells? Awesome? Evil? Awesomely evil?


2

I do worry about the characters I like, because the twists often alter your view of the characters themselves. It seems one of Weeks’ favorite mechanisms is to F with your sense of who’s good and who’s bad; there’s just not much black/white stuff going on. Durzo certainly had a lot of redeeming qualities. Before we’re made aware of the whole Gavin is Dazen is Gavin thing, it’s hard not to like Gavin, even given the assumption of his transgressions (one of which of course turns out to be the real Gavin’s). With Kip, it’s sometimes unclear whether his quirks are meant to provoke laughter, or pity, or what…I suppose it depends on the reader…but whatever the reaction, it serves to lessen ones view of him in a purely “hero” sense. Not that that’s a bad thing!

Interestingly, Weeks seems to design his women more straightforward than the men..

The bombshells are 100% evil, 100% awesome. That’s right, 200% awesome/evil bombshell goodness, baby.


1

I think that because Kip and Gavin are the two main protagonists we see a bit more nuances to their characters than we see in the women. Liv and Karris are slightly more secondary but they get their spotlight too and we begin to get hints about their internal struggles. I’m particularly interested in what happens to Liv in the second book.

In the video Brent Weeks made at Comic Con for this blog, he said that book 2 was looking so long that he may break it up into two books. What do you think of this?


2

The setup for the sequel(s?) is obvious, and I do hope it ends up being at least a trilogy as originally advertised – if the alternative is to cut down the story to fit in a second book that cleans everything up, I’ll be pretty disappointed. I happened to think The Black Prism was a good length, too – despite its 600+ pages. By page 200 or so I was lost, and I don’t remember counting pages at all through to the end.

It’s also easy for me to imagine (and hope for) prequels, detailing the False Prisms War, the personal/political stuff between Dazen and Gavin, Karis’ relationships, General Danavis + Dazen, etc. Then pre-prequels, going back to Papa Guile’s younger days..


1

Overall what did you think? I think I may like this first book better than Night Angel’s first. I’m dying the read the second one.


2

Overall, I loved it. I’m a pure fantasy genre kind of guy, and I’ve read enough to spot most of the cliches; TBP isn’t totally devoid of them, but when Weeks uses them he finds a fresh, cerebral way to do so. That much would be enough to bring my rating up to “like”. The world development, especially the magic, takes it up another notch. The character design and development gives it that last little (big?) shove. Reading it evoked a large spectrum of emotions just like a good story should. Perhaps most importantly, it left me wanting MORE…

Compared to the first Night Angel book, I feel similarly anxious for the next, but I feel more “in the know”. After The Way of Shadows, I remember having almost too many unanswered questions. It made me want to read Shadow’s Edge immediately (and I did), but it was a lot to process…or maybe I’m remembering wrong. In any case, I think the end of The Black Prism gives an excellent balance of satisfaction versus what’s-next, so overall I liked it better than The Way of Shadows.