Wednesday, January 21, 2015

recent read; Hard Magic

Jake Sullivan is a war hero, a private eye-and an ex-con. He's free because he has a magical talent, being able to alter the force of gravity in himself and objects in his vicinity, and the Bureau of Investigation calls on him when they need his help in apprehending criminals with their own magical talents. But...

Jake found out that the Feds had lied to him...he was too valuable for them to let him go. And things were even worse than Jake imagined. There was a secret war being waged by opposing forces of magic-users, and Jake had no idea that he had just attracted the attention of one side, whose ruthless leaders were of the opinion that Jake was far too dangerous to be permitted to live...

There is so much going on in this book, that I really don't want to spoil it much beyond that provided blurb. The story just kept getting bigger and better. In fact, I don't think that blurb does it justice. Not counting the magic glossary and other stuff at the back, the mass market paperback length is 573 pages and they are absolutely bulging at the seams.

Correia does a lot in this novel. He establishes his magic and its rules. He creates secret societies. He reworks early 20th century history into an alternate history narrative tainted with magic that still makes sense. He gives us varied heroes and villains. He brings in all kinds of historical characters and fits them right into their new world. And airships. Gotta have the airships. ;) He does it all with rollicking, moving action worthy of any pulp story.

I watched a talk Correia gave once, early in his writing career, where he described his plotting as blowing something up every 7-10 pages. It's not as silly as it sounds. That really is the right pacing for an action-driven story. (Or an action movie screenplay.) He makes his setups and pays them off. If this novel is any indication of the rest of his work, he naturally knows when to hit his beats, that's for sure.

Correia is a gun enthusiast. It shows throughout the story. If there was a gun in the 1930s, someone in this novel is using it. (OK, I'm sure there were more and Correia will probably pull out even more as the trilogy expands.) The trend of authors specifically describing firearms is somewhat new, I'd say. In the old days, they had "guns, pistols and rifles." I have seen other authors fail to keep this new trend interesting. I've read stories that I thought were weapons catalogs. But, Correia keeps the variety flowing as the story moves along, so I never felt that way about this tale.

The last 75 pages really kick into pulp action, breakneck speed, and pull out all the stops.

Frankly, I enjoyed the hell outta this one.

I think most of my friends (and blog visitors) who share my tastes (you know who you are and what we enjoy) will enjoy this one. I definitely plan to finish reading the entire trilogy.


  1. This one is in the TBR pile. Really gotta move it up. I've thoroughly enjoyed the short fiction I've read by Correia. This looks like more of the same, only on steroids.

  2. Gotta check this one out. Sounds like down my alley. I love that cover