Spellbound (Grimnoir Chronicles #2)
Larry Correia, narrated Bronson Pincot
Larry Correia’s Grimnoir Chronicles is rapidly becoming one of my favorite series and the only pulp noir urban fantasy series I’ve yet to come across. The series, which began in Hard Magic, continues in Spellbound picking with a flashback where a villainous active who feeds on the deaths of other magic users is dispatched during the last days of Great War leaving a trail of wreckage and death in his wake before he is eventually killed. It is a long while before the truth behind this man is revealed and it has massive implications for the world of the Grimnoir Society. Picking up a scant few months after the events of the first month Spellbound deals with the fallout of the events of the previous book. Needless to say spoilers for Hard Magic are below.
The primary catalysts for the events in Spellbound are the apparent destruction of Francis’ house by the Peace Ray and the seeming death of the Chairman at the end of Hard Magic. The first event, spun by the Imperium as the work of dissident Active terrorists leads to the active suppression and coupled with an attempt of Franklin Roosevelt’s life in Spellbound leads to the aggressive anti-Active movement to get rolling in the United States. The second, well I don’t want tot get into too many details, but needless to say as disgusting as the Chairman’s methods were his reasons for enacting them were noble and it seems that without his knowledge the world may be in for a world of hurt.
Everything that I liked about Hard Magic feels like it has been cranked up to 11 in Spellbound. Jake Sullivan kicks more ass, Faye is as irascible and bad-ass as ever, we even get a new totally awesome Iron Guard quasi-protagonist to play with. Really, just about everything in this novel kicks major ass. Even the novel’s villain (or rather head henchman) is ridiculously awesome; totally evil but in mind-bendingly cool sort of way. I will say that he’s a summoner (he calls forth magical creatures to do his bidding) but like no other summoner you’ve ever seen and leave it at that. Perhaps the best addition of all is the competent and capable Hammer, a woman whose only desire is to be a U.S. Marshall like her father but whose gender has kept her our of the law enforcement field. Correia as a knack for creating strong and nuanced female characters in his books and in Spellbound both Faye and Hammer play important parts in the story. Indeed, while I lack any hard statistics the amount of character point of views that are included in Spellbound seems to greatly outnumber those in Hard Magic. While Jake Sullivan is still our protagonist to some extant Spellbound feels much more like an ensemble piece than the previous novel.
The political angle in Spellbound lends the novel a very X-Men sort of feel; special, super-powered people protecting a world that hates and fears them and all that. It maybe isn’t the most original of plot points but one that continues to be an effective tool in conveying danger and intrigue. As whole the novel delves deeper into the world of Actives adding new layers to the Grimnoir Society upping the stakes across the board. Correia seems intent to continually add depth to the world as this series continues and I am completely ok with what. More than ok; I hunger for more. Correia has created a vibrant world in just two novels, a world that is believable and consistent that I quite frankly just want to read more about. If you enjoy urban fantasy or alternate history, like science fiction or fantasy, like superhero stories Larry Correia’s Grimnoir Chronicles offers a little of all that and then some. Seriously just do yourself a favor and snag Hard Magic and Spellbound as soon as you possibly can.