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Monday, July 5, 2010

"Magic Bites & Magic Burns: Kate Daniels Books 1 & 2" by Ilona Andrews (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Visit Ilona Andrews Official Website Here
Order Magic Bites from Amazon here and Magic Burns Here


Overview/Analysis: Magic Bites is the first book in the Kate Daniels series and opens up in an Atlanta which has been devastated by Magic. The authors have conjured up an interesting world scenario in which Magic seems to have returned with a bang. Originally both magic and science were on an even keel, however as society and mankind advanced in the field of science; magic was dwindling. Eventually science got so far ahead that the metaphysical thread connecting the two caused magic to snap and come back in waves. This makes mankind relearn its role in the grander scheme of things and thus magic comes and goes leaving mankind on the planet to share with creatures who are affected by it. The official explanation is given over here by the authors.

In the opening chapter readers are introduced to Kate Daniels, who is a mercenary and manages to scrap by doing various odds and ends jobs. She however gets a shocking letter which announces that her one-time mentor and the closest thing she has ever had as a family, Greg Feldman a Knight of the Order of Merciful Aid, has been murdered in a brutal way. She decides to follow up on his murder as her unresolved anger at him will not permit anything else. She then contacts his fellow Knights who surprisingly act in accord with her wishes and even allow her to become a temporary member of the Order to facilitate her investigations. Armed with her snappy sense of humor and her fighting abilities Kate sets forth to determine who or what killed Greg?

During the process of gathering information she learns that Greg was a bit on the friendlier side with the Pack, which includes all the were-creatures and proceeds to meet up with them. This leads up to an important event in her life as she makes her first contact with the Beast Lord who controls the pack and is the absolute authority on all things related to the Pack. Kate doesn’t exactly help with her attitude and soon gets into more trouble with the Pack and the Vampire controlling People who seem to be having similar problems with the Pack. Kate manages to make do without destroying her alliances with the Pack as well as the People and also sets about to discover Greg’s murderer. She gains somewhat of a sidekick during her investigations and also manages to intrigue some one enough to get her a dinner date.

The writing is a bit patchy but since this is the first book, it can be understood and gleaned over. The main protagonist is the biggest draw as readers see the world through her eyes. With her being such a strong individual it does help the book to be alleviated from the many strong female protagonist clones. Kate Daniels as a main character is fascinating, as a few snippets about her past are revealed, but who she is, is still very much shrouded in mystery. I guess as the series moves forward we will learn more about her. (The author are currently contracted for seven books, of which four are written).

The plot has a main murder mystery to it and is handled well, as readers is race along with the characters to spot the actual culprit. Some veteran readers might very well get the clues and figure it out, however I wasn’t one of them and thus I thoroughly enjoyed the race to the climax and the climatic sequence as well.

This was a good debut and even though it had its shortcomings, the main character and the world scenario had me hooked on to the next book.


Overview/Analysis – The second book opens up roughly three months after the events described in the first book which have been christened as the Red Point Stalker case. Kate Daniels finds herself in a better position than earlier as she is now a liaison officer between the Mercenary Guild as well as the Order of the Merciful Aid. She’s making a decent living and still has her preferred status amongst the Pack as well as her secrets are safe with her.

The most recent case she gets is when Derek (apparent sidekick) approaches her to do a favor for the pack as someone seems to have stolen a set of the city maps from the pack and in the process hurt more than a few of them at the same time.

Kate’s new odyssey begins where she has to figure who is the mysterious bowman who can disappear at will and why is he after these maps and the young girl Julie, who’s mom is a witch and is missing with her entire coven and lastly who is behind all of this. Kate seems to have established some sort of a working relationship with the beast Lord Curran, however newer developments might lead to further deterioration in her precocious standings and with her trying to find out more about Roland (her main enemy). This time it looks as if Kate will have more than what she can handle.

The writing is better in this one as we get to read and understand Kate better. In the first book it seemed as if the authors were a bit unsure as to how to showcase her but in this book she’s the same hard-talking and fighting female but her persona is much more appreciable. While in the first book I couldn’t connect wholly to the main character, the second book completely drew me in and made Kate Daniels and her life that much more readable. The world is also deepened with the introduction of Irish mythology as the first book featured East European myths. Readers also get to see more interaction between Kate and the Beast Lord which forms a crucial aspect of these books. There is another climatic battle in this book as well however the scale is tremendous as in the first book it was more personal whereas in this one, the entire pack gets involved. The ending is fitting and also leaves the readers guessing as to what might be happening next in Kate’s personal life.

Conclusion: I think Ilona Andrews might have given us another worthy character to follow and the world which they have created is pretty detailed and different at the same time. This series while seeming like many of those in the urban fantasy subgenre manages to differentiate itself by having a female protagonist who primarily is a bad ass but also a decent person at heart. There is also a grander plot arc working behind the scene as snippets of dialogue tell us about Kate’s crusade against Roland and how she is definitely more than what she seems to be. This is another fantastic series which I have discovered and one which I plan to follow till the authors bring it to the fantastic end which they seem to have planned for all us readers.


Bastard said...

Hmm, not sure about this one. Will need to investigate further. Is Kate anything special other than a mercenary? Like some sort of mix blood giving her special strength, or does she use magic, etc. Would like to know a bit more about what would allow here to "kick ass" in this type of world.

The Reader said...

Hey B.

Kate is shown to be a mercenary for a reason, she is a skilled swordswoman & apparently has some magic as well. This is due to her blood[the magic in this world is of various types], she seems to be running & hiding her trail from some1[Roland] and the "how & why" are explained in the first 2 books.

It makes sense plus the character is a hard edged one but as the books go by, we get to see & know more about her past & therefore about her mercenary status as well. The secrecy aspect makes much more sense then. I have read all 4 books which have been released so far & thus so far the saga has been dark & humorous.


Bastard said...

OK, that gives me more assurances. Thanks. Will wait for your reviews on the next two books (assuming you review them).

The Reader said...

JYeah, will be reviewing both Magic Strikes[3rd] & Magic Bleeds[4th] soon.


Bastard said...

That's cool. The more I think on it, the more interested I'm getting in this series.

I'll reconsider it after I'm done with my current batch of novels.

Mean said...

I've read the entire series. Excellent. Ilona Andrews is actually a husband & wife team who write the books. The series is current my favorite among the Urban Fantasy genre and Kate's snarky inner dialog is humorous.

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