The Pax Arcana series by Elliott James is one my favorite recent additions to the urban fantasy scene. Fearless, is the third novel in the series and continues the series excellence. One of the things that I find interesting about this series over some other urban fantasies is that its setting is particularly unmoored. John Charming’s past, particularly his having been on the run for so long, means that sense of place that for me is a strong part of the urban fantasy genre is instead refocused onto John himself and the home creates (or is trying to create) with the people he surrounds himself with. While Fearless and the Pax Arcana series buys into many of the familiar tropes of its subgenre the laser-like focus on John himself, and his peculiar brand of self-awareness, lend the series a surprisingly different feel. The uniqueness of the series is further enhanced by the menagerie of supernatural creatures that James includes throughout the series. Fearless, in particular introduces a whole new cast of creatures both terrifying and surprisingly normal from a variety of cultural backgrounds with a strong focus in Japanese mythology.
Jack Campbell, read by Christian Rummel
Audible Frontiers, 2008
Fearless picks up more or less exactly where Dauntless left off. Geary is still struggling with the presence of his legendary alter ego “Black Jack” trying to reconcile who he is now not only with who he used be but with who and what others expect him to be. Geary’s age and “man out of time” status is again at the forefront here though spun slightly different than in Dauntless. In the first novel Geary was focused mostly on coming to grips with what the Alliance fleet had become and how fleet traditions had deviated so far from what he knew in the past. Fearless however takes things in a more a personal direction. It doesn’t abandon Geary’s attempts to return the Alliance fleet to the traditions he remembers but a large portion of Fearless tackles Geary’s sense of isolation and, appropriately, fear.
Some spoilers ahead!