Warbound – Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles – by Larry Correia – A Science Fiction-Fantasy Book Review

Warbound is the third and the (currently) final volume of Larry Correia’s Grimnoir series.  And as such it ties together the threads from the earlier volumes, Hard Magic and Spellbound and provides the resolution of the story lines for the main characters Jake Sullivan and Faye Vierra.  These two are powerful “actives,” possessors of magic abilities in one or several categories working for the Grimnoir Society.  Jake is a Gravity Spiker with the ability to alter gravity at will while Faye is a Traveler, someone who can teleport from one location to another.  Both have been tested during the crises in the earlier books when they faced off first against the Iron Guard actives of the Japanese Imperium and afterward against rogue actives in the US intelligence agencies that were attempting to blame the Grimnoir Society for magical attacks by other forces.

But now the whole planet is threatened by an alien creature that preys on the entity that produces the magic.  The knowledge of what is at stake produces some strange alliances that alter the dynamic that the earlier books portrayed.  And despite the war footing that the book details Correia is able to mix just enough humor and other character driven interest to allow the pleasant juggling of a large number of characters.  One of the features of this historical fantasy world is the introduction of historical figures often possessing magic themselves.  Blackjack Pershing, J. Edgar Hoover, Buckminster Fuller, even FDR make longer or shorter appearances in the books.

I won’t go into a detailed plot summary because I don’t want to spoil the story.  Suffice it to say I’m giving it a very good rating.  And I’ll finish off by saying a few things about Correia’s story writing.  Without a doubt Correia is one of the best sf&f authors around today.  Going beyond that I’ll say he compares well with the older authors back in the heyday of the genres.  He writes good heroes and good villains.  He has a good ear for dialog and he can even inject humor into the story in a natural way.  One of his favorite types is a variant of the competent man but instead of Heinlein’s omnicompetent type Correia’s hero is usually a working- or middle-class guy who is good with his fists and guns and adheres to a code of conventional morality.  And as an added bonus his heroes are actually likable.  Even his villains are interesting.

And there’s one final bonus with Correia that is refreshing to see in today’s social justice infused entertainment industry.  There won’t be a single character thrown in just to earn intersectional social justice brownie points from the pink science fiction crowd.  Just regular people with super powers fighting super villains without having to worry if any of them is being oppressed by the really evil cis-het white man.

So far, I’ve read all Correia’s Monster Hunter books and now the Grimmoir books.  I’ve also enjoyed his comical Tom Stranger audiobooks and I follow his website for his take on the latest outrages by the pink science fiction scolds.  Next, I’ll start his epic fantasy series “Saga of the Forgotten Warrior” without bothering to check reviews because I’m already sure it’ll be excellent.  And in today’s science fiction and fantasy environment that’s pretty rare.

Spellbound – Book II of the Grimnoir Chronicles – by Larry Correia – A Science Fiction-Fantasy Book Review

“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.

Hard Magic – by Larry Correia – A Fantasy Book Review

Larry Correia is the author of the Monster Hunter urban fantasy book series.  I’ve enjoyed these books for years and also enjoy his comical Tom Stranger audiobook series.  So recently I looked around and decided I should check out some of his other writing.

Back in 2011 Correia wrote an urban fantasy, alternate history book called Hard Magic – Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles.  In this alternate reality magic starts appearing on Earth in the 19th century and by the time of the story, the 1930s, there are various magical powers that have become part of everyday life and corporate policy.  For instance, dirigibles and blimps do not disappear from the airs because magical practitioners called “Torches” have the ability to prevent fires from destroying the explosive hydrogen filled balloons with their powers.

There are humans called “Healers” with the power to heal disease and injury by a laying on of hands.  And alternatively, there can be an individual called a “Pale Horse” who has the power to cause disease and even horribly painful death with just a touch of his hand.  And there are dozens of other powers out there.  “Brutes” are able to increase their strength tremendously and toughen themselves to withstand enormous punishment.  Some can walk through walls, some teleport from place to place and some can control gravity and density and even the weather.

The outlines of history are similar to the actual history.  World War One occurred and the rise of the Japanese Empire is happening but each of these things included large-scale use of magical power.  Historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt and Black Jack Pershing exist but they are involved in the magical events.  Nikola Tesla is a “Cog” which is an individual whose intellect has a magical quality to it and in this world, he invents magical doomsday devices such as the Geo-Tel which can destroy everything within a thousand-mile radius at the push of a button.

The book has a couple of main characters.  Faye Vierra is a teenager living on her adoptive grandfather’s dairy ranch.  She is a “Traveller.”  Grandpa was able to teach her how to safely use her power because he also is a “Traveller.”  What she doesn’t know is that he is a retired member of the Grimnoir Society, an order of magically gifted individuals who pledge to use their power to protect society from the misuse of magic.  When evil men show up Grandpa sends Faye off with a dangerous device that he tells her to give to Black Jack Pershing.

The other main character is Jake Sullivan.  Jake is a Gravity Spiker.  He can change the force of gravity.  He can make it stronger of weaker and even change its direction.  Jake is getting out of prison for a justifiable homicide that was declared murder.  Jake has agreed to a parole condition under which he will assist the FBI and local law enforcement with super strong magical individuals like brutes in exchange for a shortened sentence.  But during one of these operations he finds out that there are magical agents working outside the law but not against it.  And it leads back to Pershing.

The story knits together a cast of characters inside the Grimnoir Society that are working to prevent the capture by the Japanese Imperium of a Geo-Tel device.  A shadowy leader, the Chairman, is a powerful, almost godlike leader whose forces are bent on world domination and the destruction of the United States.

Correia crafts an enjoyable narrative with a full range of engaging characters moving across the country and the world pursuing their varying interests and racing against time to retrieve the pieces of the Geo-Tel before the Imperium can unleash Armageddon.  I highly recommend the book and am looking forward to the arrival of the sequel Spellbound.

16JUN2020 – OCF Update

You folks will have to forgive me for my lack of output today.  The SCOTUS decisions have put me in a despondent mood.  Neil Gorsuch is the biggest disaster since George W Bush.  Handing the Left such a victory is stomach churning.  I’ll have more to say on that but I don’t want it to engulf the world right now.

On a positive note, yesterday the Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens showed up on my doorstep and I have been playing around with it.  I guarantee that everyone will be heartily sick of hearing about this lens and equally sick of the images of birds and beasts that wander into my field of vision in the coming days, weeks and months to come.

I’m currently expecting the next installment of the Galaxy’s Edge saga to show up.  This the first volume of “Season 2.”  I’m interested to see what direction they go in this season.  This is my first foray into one of these endless series.  I had my doubts about how it would maintain quality but I have been very happy with the consistency of the story telling so far.

I am also starting on one of Larry Correia’s other series (in other words, outside of the Monster Hunter universe).  Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles is arriving soon.  That should help to keep my mind off Neil Gorsuch’s epic betrayal.

So as I said, apologies for my silence but I am only human.  I drowned my sorrow in a viewing of W.C. Field’s “The Man on the Flying Trapeze.”  In the words of the great man, “I’ll knock’em for a row of lib-labs.”

#1 in Customer Service, The Complete Adventures of Tom Stranger (Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent #3) – A Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review

For the sake of accuracy let me say that his is actually an audiobook.  It’s found on Audible which is an Amazon company.

This is the third installment in the Tom Stranger saga but Audible has bundled all the earlier episodes in with three new chapter in the series adding up to eight hours of listening time.  The Tom Stranger stories are a goofball joke that Larry Correia of “Monster Hunter International” fame spun out in 2016 as a lark.  But he got Adam Baldwin (of Firefly and Chuck fame) to do the narration and the first one was so much fun to listen to that I’ve kept up with the nutty series ever since.

The idea is exactly what the title implies.  Tom Stranger is an interdimensional insurance agent.  He travels throughout the multiverse settling claims on any policies meant to protect a client in one dimension from interference by any being from a different dimension.  So, as a for instance, while in our dimension back in 2016 Barack Obama was president of the United States, in another universe Adam Baldwin wasn’t just an actor but was also elected president.  So, when something from our universe threatened this alternate reality, Tom Stranger was called in by the policy owner, Adam Baldwin, to restore the balance and repair the damage.

Now Larry Correia was the originator of the Sad Puppies campaign against the SJWs of pink science fiction so tweaking liberals and other weirdos is a healthy chunk of the content and motivation for the stories.  But everyone else, including himself, Adam Baldwin and even nominal allies like President Trump come in for abuse somewhere in the story.  The only group that consistently escapes abuse are manatees.  Tom is presented exactly like the earnest insurance agent he is, humorless, efficient, extremely uncool and incorruptible.

I will say right up front that if you don’t like goofball humor and don’t appreciate pretty heavy handed SJW bashing this may not be your cup of tea.  Also, right now the book is free if you start a trial membership of Audible.  I guess if you cared to you can get it free and then cancel the trial membership. But I just bought it because I’m a trillionaire.  Otherwise it is $28 dollars which seems like a lot of money for a goofy book.  So, I’ll say that this book is definitely not for everybody.  Also Audible is one of those services where the audio file doesn’t reside on your computer but streams from their servers.  Being a geezer, this annoys the hell out of me.

Going back to the story, it’s something that I like but it has several things going for it for my tastes.  First off, I was a participant in the Puppy Wars and enjoy anything that tweaks the SF SJWs.  Secondly Larry Correia is a very funny guy and writes a really clever satire.  And finally, Adam Baldwin is great fun as the narrator.

So, there it is.  A specialty product that isn’t for everyone but satisfies a niche for a special audience.

10NOV2019 – OCF Update

So I’m really enjoying the Star Trek reviews.  Making fun of Kirk and company feels good.  And it dovetails nicely with the ShatnerKhan posts.  Admittedly, there could be an allergic reaction to that much Shatner but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

For fans of Larry Correia and his Tom Stranger audio books (voiced by the mighty Adam Baldwin) the latest installment is coming out.  This time all three episodes are packaged together (with a hefty $25 price tag).  They’re a silly treat I greatly enjoy.

The Pelosi/Schiff Comedy Show is rolling along as phoney as ever but the Media assures us it’s curtains for the President (again!).  I’ll assume that the only ones interested are MSNBC and CNN so I’ll be waiting instead for the Barr/Durham Show to raise curtain sometime soon.  That I’m very interested in.  Would be interesting if the two shows coordinate their schedules.  I’m guessing that trying to distract the public from Russiagate and its Deep State fallout is part of what the Pelosi/Schiff show is all about.

Bloomberg joining the Dem race is an interesting wrinkle.  This could upend Liarwatha and Creepy Joe both.  But somehow I don’t think he adds much to the field.  He’ll add to the suburban vote but leave the minority and millennial votes cold.

So it should be an interesting week.  Stay tuned.

 

Congratulations to the Dragon Award Winners

Special congratulations to Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen for their awards (list below).  Larry and Brad were charter members of the Sad Puppy movement and took an enormous amount of abuse from the sad pathetic people who game the Hugo Awards every year.  But based on the fate of Campbell Award this year I’m assuming it won’t be the Hugos for much longer but instead the Noras or the Samuels  or some other first name of an author who didn’t have the bad manners to be born a straight white man.

Larry championed the DragonCon’s fan popularity based Dragon Awards contest and it has since displaced the Hugos for all normal humans.  I’m a big fan of Larry’s Monster Hunter series because they’re great fun and because I’m hoping that Adam Baldwin will get the chance to play Agent Franks in the big screen version of the stories.  That would be awesome.

Larry Correia and the Facebook Trolls

Larry is the author of some very fun urban and high fantasy (e. g., the Monster Hunter books) and the man who originated the Sad Puppy insurgency.  Because of the latter, the whole science fiction SJW troop hates him with a burning passion.  So every now and then they erupt in a spasm of spite.  So they’ve been messing with his Facebook page by reporting imaginary violations.  Larry, being the imaginative type came up with a game to mock this harassment and, of course, was banned again for the imaginary stuff too.  It’s kind of complicated but if you’ve following the Sad Puppy saga for as long as I have you might get a chuckle.

 

“Long live Krasnovia!

 

Banned Again. Facebook Gets Even Dumber, Part III: The Saga Continues

 

 

The Monster Hunter Files – A Fantasy Book Review

Larry Correia has successfully built up the Monster Hunter brand to the point where other authors like John Ringo and Sarah Hoyt have now penned volumes of the series.  I have not previously read any of these non-Correia additions to the MHI world but I wasn’t worried about continuity problems when I picked up the Monster Hunter Files short story collection.  After all, when you let other authors share in your fictional world you are assuming that their writing style will be different and that they will be interested in different aspects of that world or at least emphasize things differently.

And this is definitely the case for the authors and stories in this collection.  In some cases, authors with established characters are embedding these known quantities into the MHI world.  When that happens the fans of that author will be the ones who can best judge if the character was faithfully transplanted into the MHI universe.  But Larry’s fans are the ones who will decide if the fit is successful.  There are seventeen stories in the collection with writers as well-known as Jim Butcher, John Wright, John Ringo and Jonathan Maberry.  And there are authors that are less well known.  But the success of the stories also depends on whether the author’s take on the material fits well with the MHI style.  And finally, the individual reader will provide the most important component of what is a good or bad story, namely his individual tastes.

And indeed, that is the case for me.  Regardless of the skill of the author or even my taste for that author’s work, the primary consideration is whether the story is entertaining.  And that will be a continuum.  Some stories are enjoyable on several levels and can be easily identified as the stand outs.  Others may be okay and don’t rate top billing.  And some just plain don’t work for me.  Relevant to that is the interesting situation that the one Larry Correia story is not actually my favorite story in the collection.  I have to assume it’s not because the other stories are more genuinely MHI than his.  That would be hard to argue.  It’s just because they happen to be better stories by my criteria.  And this is the beauty of the multi-author anthology.  You discover new authors whose work you find you like.  My personal favorites:

1)            “The Manticore Sanction” by John C. Wright

2)            “The Gift” by Steve Diamond

Plenty of the other stories are good and were enjoyed but these two were the best for my tastes.

I would say the story collection is a success.  In fact, I see no reason why additional volumes couldn’t be published.  One idea that I think would be interesting is a volume of stories entirely from the point of view of the monsters.  This is actually sort of the case in the story “Huffman Strikes Back” by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Julie Frost.  The stories in such a volume would have to be handled carefully to make it interesting but it would be a departure and provides totally different points of view on the familiar characters and situations from the conventional monster hunting narratives.  After all there are a number of important monsters including some of the Shacklefords.  Highlighting their points of view in the stories would be entertaining and could provide insights that can’t be easily obtained from the conventional perspective.

A Manatee for All Seasons

For fans of Larry Correia, Wendell T. Manatee is running for the Senate under the Libertarian Space Cowboy Revolution Party.  Larry interviews Wendell, shamelessly hawks his manatee campaign bumper stickers and manages to make a number of good points in the proceedings.

Hoon for America. Manatee Party Stickers Available Now