Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hard Magic - eARC review

As is typical, since I discovered the beauty (and the expense) of Baen eARC - I've been hooked. Books are my Crack. If I can get a book faster, I dang well will, especially something like Hard Magic which I've been slathering for since April of last year. Larry Corriea is an evil man, giving us a seven chapter look, and then laughing as his publisher takes an age to kick out the book

Hard Magic is coming out in May, if I remember correctly, but you can buy an electronic copy now from Baen, it's the 'unproofed' copy and it will cost you extra (15 bucks) but, for somenoe as ravenous as me, its worth it.

Now, about the book.

Its set in an alternate history of the 1930s, where magic is real. Powerful magic users are called actives. Actives can usually wield one type of power, for example, one of the main characters is a Heavy, or Gravity Spiker, he can control, and shift the pull of gravity. Another is a Traveler, she can teleport. Basically, think up any cool single superpower and its probably in the book somewhere.

The story revolves around a Heavy named Jake Sullivan, when the book starts off, he's working for the J. Edgar Hoover, as something of a cooler for Actives. He's a former/current convict himself so Hoover's basically using him, and it pisses Jake off. Jake's a thinker, even though he's a big ass guy, and he's figured out some interesting things about how magic works. After running into an old flame, he ends up falling in with a secret society who's trying to stave off a magical war with the Imperium of Japan.

Some of the better side characters include John J Pershing (Yes, the one they named the tank after) John Moses Browning, yes, that John Moses Browning :D - and, even though he never really gets screen time, a huge amount of the trouble in the book is his fault, so I gotta give props to Nikolia Tesla.

There are armoured blimps, BARs, Bi-planes, super weapons, and one really scary Japanese dude.

And none of that comes close to explaining how much *fun* this book is. Does Jake Sullivan feel a bit like the protagonist from MHI Owen Z Pitt? Yes, but for divergent reasons. Does it hurt the book? No, because Correia's really branched out, his story telling in this book is much more mature feeling, the hooks and twists were a little harder to see coming, and he's got one character thats such a departure for him that it *rocks*.

This is Corriea's best work to date. He's got four books, including Hard Magic coming out this year. And if he keeps getting better through them all, we're in for a treat.

Do yourself a favor. If you like guns, magic and historical settings, give it a go. Hell, if you only like *one* of those things, give it a go.

I don't think you'll be disappointed.