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Monday, July 28, 2014

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews (Reviewed by Casey Blair & Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read the first two chapters HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Magic Bites” & “Magic Burns
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Magic Strikes” & “Magic Mourns
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Magic Bleeds” & “A Questionable Client
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Magic Slays” & “Magic Dreams
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Magic Rises"
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of "Retribution Clause" & "Magic Tests"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Gunmetal Magic" & "Magic Gifts"
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Interview with Ilona Andrews

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for the husband-and-wife writing team of Ilona Gordon & Andrew Gordon. Together, Andrew and Ilona are the co-authors of the New York Times bestselling Kate Daniels urban fantasy series and the romantic urban fantasy novels of The Edge. They live in Texas with their children. 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear… 

FORMAT/INFO: Magic Breaks is 381 pages long divided over eighteen chapters, and a prologue and an epilogue. In this book, narration is in the first-person, exclusively via Kate Daniels and as a journal entry (prologue) via Barabas. There's also a short story included; "Magic Tests" which is set after the events of books 5. There's also a map of Atlanta, a character list as well as an author note included. Magic Breaks is the seventh volume of the series, therefore it would be very inadvisable to jump in to the series from this point.

July 29, 2014 marks the North American hardback and e-book publication of Magic Breaks via Ace Books. Cover art provided by Juliana Kolesova.

ANALYSIS (Mihir): For all Ilona Andrews fans, this has been the book that we have been waiting for. Magic Breaks is the first time when Roland makes an appearance and is about his introduction and his confrontation with Kate. However this is not the FINAL book in the series, we are assured of three more (atleast)...

Magic Breaks is set after the tumultuous events seen in Magic Rises and after the cross-Atlantic journey, Kate is not sure what to expect next. Things have settled comfortably with the Atlanta pack as Curran goes to work with Panacea and is able to fortify his territory. Things are going well as much as they can but when Curran is suspiciously called away for a hunt to placate a bordering pack that has access to silver. Kate being the consort is then is forced to attend a conclave meeting with the People. The plot thickens when a high-ranking master of the dead is found murdered. With all signs pointing towards a shape-shifter, things get tense as Kate's most hated adversary returns to give her 24 hours to hand over the murderer or Roland's war comes to Atlanta. From then on it's a race against time, as Kate and the pack have to figure what really happened and how to clear this mess from the Pack’s plate.

What can I say; Magic Breaks has been a very fast-paced & superbly satisfying read. Infact I'll go ahead to say this book will be in my top three of my year-end lists. If you love the previous books then prepare to have your mind blown. This book has all the positive attributes of the series that we all love. Awesome action sequences, terrific characterization and a great cast of characters; We get a POV from Barabas as part of the prologue and also Desandra takes center stage in pack politics. As a character, she’s pure gold as we (readers) are never quite sure what or how she’ll react. After the events of this book, I’m definitely interested to what happens within the Wolves now that Desandra is laying claim to certain positions.

Lastly the humor never truly fails to stop the story from becoming abysmally dark. Kate and all of our favorite characters are back in this one and so many others from the previous works make some memorable appearances. Their presence however is entirely justified and unlike the last Sookie Stackhouse book, wherein everyone just showed up to bid adieu. The authors make sure that the tension is never completely resolved and the readers will be flipping pages to see what all is encompassed within this tale.

For me, I loved how the authors melded a murder mystery, their version of "the mines of Moria sequence" which just simply will blow most reader minds and lastly a confrontation between a father and daughter. If you think that you can predict what will happen, I'll gladly inform you that you will be wrong. The action sequences are amped up and there's some new additions to the rich were mythology that the authors have built up so far. Then there are further revelations about Kate's past, Roland, her magic and some subjects that are highly spoilerific to eve mention. Safe to say that this book does everything but bring you to the edge of a mental orgasm before tipping you over savagely of course. 

CONCLUSION: This is truly Epic Urban Fantasy & Ilona Andrews are just the best (watch out Jim Butcher) when it comes to writing in this under-appreciated genre. Plus as a freebie, the authors have also included MAGIC TESTS, a short story about Julie , which I have previously reviewed HERE.

ANALYSIS (Casey): Magic Breaks is the latest (not the last!) of author duo Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels urban fantasy series, and it's a strong addition to the set. For me, the most important part of a story is the characters, and over the last six books the authors have introduced a ton of fabulous characters. Sadly some of my favorites aren't on screen for much of Magic Breaks (Julie, Raphael, Dali, and even Jim is mostly in the background). On the other hand, a fan-favorite villain is back and causing all kinds of problems (I won't spoil it for you), my favorite volhv Roman makes a cameo, we get to explore Master of the Dead Ghastek's character a lot more, and the pack's newest werewolf from the previous book is hands-down my new favorite character.

If you're less familiar with the series, none of that means much to you, so let me say this as well: we spend a lot of the series meeting and developing side characters, and the authors don't forget about them. They're starting to tie all of them in to the main plot and it's wonderful to see how they all fit together.

I loved the political maneuvering not just within the magical community (shapeshifters, masters of the dead, witches, etc.) but also with the police and the knights. The authors effectively used the limits of each group's power and authority to heighten the tension. The resolutions for the continuing problems of Ted Moynohan and Jennifer hit the mark perfectly. It isn't just the characters that are coming together in Magic Breaks: the world-building and all of the subplots are paying off.

Now, the authors have made no secret of the fact that this is the book in which Roland, Kate's mythological father and our series' Big Bad, appears on stage for the first time. I think they did a great job with Roland of balancing portraying him at once as evil yet also extremely intelligent and only dubiously insane, because the ethical ambiguity (especially from his perspective, inasmuch as we can tell) makes him even creepier. Like, fantastically creepy. The final note of this book is absolutely perfect in that respect. 

After all the build-up for Roland, though, I have to say the climax lacked some tension for me. Once Kate actually got to Roland, their meeting went remarkably smoothly. And the action Kate has to take during the climax in order to save everyone — while a serious move — didn't seem anywhere near as difficult a decision for Kate as other confrontations in the book. Maybe because it's the only one that ever had a chance of working (the authors drop enough hints early on about Roland's goal for Atlanta so that we already know it had to be coming), her choice didn't feel all that momentous, but more like a matter of course. It is, however, still an epic throwdown.

It also bothered me that no one even tried to fight Roland. Without even attempting, everyone simply understands that he's too powerful to defeat, so they back off or negotiate terms each time a real confrontation seems imminent. So far we've mostly seen his power used indirectly, which, while in character for him, makes the stakes a little ambiguous. Kate may not be ready to face him directly yet, but that is something I'll want to see in later books.

Of everything the authors do in this book, I think my favorite part is how much trouble being in charge causes for Kate and Curran. It makes spending time together nearly impossible, not to mention time together alone. It makes taking a day off to rest and recover from nearly fatal wounds actually impossible. It means all the most serious problems are their day-to-day lot; there are no easy ones. It means everything they say or do, even the most innocuous side comments, is watched, analyzed, and interpreted, and their most casual and innocent interaction has dire consequences down the road. It means they're responsible for every one of their people, no matter if they're stupid or obnoxious or insane.

And while they handle it, we see the toll it takes on them. We see that while they both do the work — and it is undeniably work — because they care about their people and about each other, the power brings them no joy. In point of fact, it only brings them trouble. And in the end, faced with Roland, it doesn't bring them safety, either.

CONCLUSION: The authors have been building this for a while, and I love how all those tensions boiled over in this book. They handled it beautifully. I'm really excited about where this series is going. Everything seems to be culminating at last, and given the course and foreshadowing of Magic Breaks it looks like the authors have great things in store for us.

1 comments:

winstonian said...

Thanks for the terrific (and balanced) review! We have been waiting for this release and it sounds like the book is a wild ride! Can't wait to read it for myself!

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