Friday, November 25, 2011

Hard Magic by Larry Correia

I've really enjoyed Larry Correia's Monster Hunter series, and so I checked out the first book in his latest series, the Grimnoir Chronicles, at my local library. Correia's writing is still quite good, but I didn't enjoy this quite as much.

The action takes place, apparently, in an alternate history after the first World War. Sometime in the nineteenth century, people began to turn up with magical powers, allowing them to influence their environments, or their own bodies through an act of will. There are people who can influence the pull of gravity, call wind and fire, move objects through telekinesis, read minds, teleport, or influence others to do what they want through their "voice".

The protagonist of the book is Jake Sullivan, an ex-soldier who can alter gravity. After returning home from the war, he got into trouble by interfering with a sheriff who was abusing a young boy who also had shown some magic powers, crushing the sheriff into a bloody paste when Jake lost his temper. He ended up serving time in a federal penitentiary, but was released early for (mostly) good behavior and by agreeing to work for J. Edgar Hoover's Feds in capturing others who have used their powers to murder.

At the end of the war, the Japanese formed an Imperium, ruled nominally by the emperor, but actually controlled by a magic user of immense powers, known as the Chairman. A group of westerners, also ex-military, headed by Blackjack Pershing, formed a secret society to oppose the Imperium, called The Grimnoir. Also at the end of the war, the Grimnoir made off with a highly destructive device invented by Nikolai Tesla (analogous to an atom bomb), and disassembled it, scattering the pieces around the world, kept safe by various members of their society. However, the Chairman's minions have finally uncovered the keepers of the pieces, and are methodically killing them and seizing the parts of the device, to be reassembled and used to destroy the West.

When Sullivan discovers that Hoover has been lying to him, and does not intend to honor their agreement to let him go free after a certain number of assignments, he "defects" to the Grimnoir. He and the other members try to keep the Imperium from getting control  of the device, and fight for truth, justice and the American Way.

This book contains a lot of action, some very interesting ideas about the use of magic powers, and a few good twisty plot bits. It has rather a comic book feel, however, and I never really got sucked in to caring about the characters. Fans of action heroes from the comic books might really like it.

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