“Spellbound” is the second book in this series. Obviously since I am reviewing this second volume, I enjoyed the first installment “Hard Magic” (see my review of it here).
In this story the main characters Jake Sullivan and Faye Vierra are once again swept along in the cataclysmic ricochets of real magic altering the world of the early 20th century. It’s 1933 and FDR is coming into office and one of his priorities is dealing with the ‘Actives.” This is the term for humans that have major magical powers. This includes “Brutes” who are inhumanly strong, “Travelers” who can teleport, “Healers” who can cure almost any disease or injury and numerous other special types. In the first book we learned how the Japanese had harnessed Actives as a spearpoint for their war machine in Asia. And we met Jake and Faye. Now they are veteran “knights” in the Grimnoir Society, sworn to use their powers to protect the innocent and destroy those using magic for evil.
But forces within the United States government are conspiring to discredit the Grimnoir and turn the American public against the Actives through a series of false flag operations. This book is the story of the Grimnoir fighting against that operation. But it also builds on the conflict with the Japanese Iron Guard, (enhanced military Actives) from the first book and then clarifies the nature of the forces that had originally unleashed magic into the world and how that will threaten the whole world in the very near future.
Okay, so that’s the setup. Larry Correia is a very good story teller. He paints a very rich picture with his characters and the action of the plot. Even the villains are well written and the story is peppered with historical personages like J Edgar Hoover and Buckminster Fuller who are adapted to fill their roles in this alternate universe. Each chapter begins with a quote from some person, mostly historical, saying something that illustrates how real magic has impacted the alternate universe of the story.
I find this alternate world very entertaining. The Jake Sullivan character is one of Correia’s competent man heroes. He is a brawler who has been treated badly by the world but refuses to abandon the good. Even his enemies have learned to respect his abilities and this allows him to form alliances that otherwise would be impossible. Faye is a powerfully gifted “Traveler” who possess abilities that far exceed what other Actives can do. She is also a very young woman from a sheltered small-town environment who is still trying to figure out how she fits into this strange world she finds herself in.
These two characters are the twin focuses around which the other characters and the plot revolve. The whole story is a straight forward action adventure. There are plenty of good guys, bad guys and even some good bad guys and bad good guys. It’s a combination of Buck Rodgers, The Untouchables and H. P. Lovecraft with some film noir thrown in for good measure. If that sounds like something you might like then pick up the first book Hard Magic and start at the beginning. If you’ve already read it then know that the series is still getting better in book two, Spellbound.