“You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot further with a smile and a gun. A smile, a gun, and a Brute get you the key to the city. —Al “Scarface” Capone, Interview, 1930”
Without reading too much into what the book was about before listening to it, I honestly thought I was in for a more fantasy-esque novel. Yes, it leans toward Sci-Fi in the sense of the technology. With the powers and additional magic used by some of the characters, though, I thought it would be fantasy. Lo and behold sometime into the book, you’re given information that points directly to Sci-Fi. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 Galleons.
It boils down to: Grimnoir are the good guys, and are made up of multiple nationalities. The Imperium are the bad guys, and are lead by The Chairman, who is Japanese. Grimnoirs fight to make sure people with magic aren’t abused, as well as not letting people with magic abuse others. The Imperium believes in might makes right. This story is about their clash over a super weapon called a “Death Ray”, as well as essentially who should be ruling the world. Jake Sullivan is a “Heavy”, or gravity controller, and he’s caught between the two organizations. He doesn’t completely agree with the Grimnoir’s ‘wait and see’ tactic, but he knows he won’t toe the line in the world The Chairman wants, either. Between a rock and a hard place, Jake uses his brains and powers to try and save the world.
The author likes to talk about guns, and I ran into the same issue with that aspect as I did when Patricia Briggs went overboard with the horse information in Dead Heat. Authors are told to write what they know, but we don’t have to beat readers over the head with it. While he’s not going on for pages about the guns, the details do get a little much at times.
The characters. Mr. Correia did an amazing job with the personalities, backstory, and all-around fleshing them out. My personal favorite is Faye. She’s smarter than most assume, based off her Okie accent, and incredibly powerful. Not just when it comes to “Travelers”, (think Nightcrawler in X-Men), but compared to most “Actives”, (Mutants).
Though the powers are part of the characters, the details of each, what the people who use them are called, and so on, were wonderfully done.
It may have come across differently in my mind if I had read the book, but I greatly enjoyed the varying personalities and accents of the audiobook. The narrator, Bronson Pinchot, did a stupendous job narrating the book. He brought the characters to life, and while I’m sure my mind could have come up with something almost as good, I must bow to his talent.
The side stories are not extraneous, which I appreciate, and do lend detail to the characters and primary storyline.
I was entertained by the quotes and anecdotes at the beginning of the chapters. It gives us a glimpse into the alternative history in which Actives play a role. One such quote is above, from Al Capone.
If you’re uncomfortable with ethnic and racial stereotypes, this book is not for you.
If you don’t like graphic and seemingly excessive violence, this book is also not for you.
I’m not going to get into the author’s political leanings and opinions; I’m solely here to review the book.
I’m giving Hard Magic 4 out of 5 stars