Ilona Andrews, Magic Binds (2016)

Magic Binds

Magic Binds is the ninth installment in the highly acclaimed urban fantasy series by the writing duo, Ilona and Gordon Andrews. Having reached the status of bestsellers and the rare honor of hard cover over the span of an almost decade of writing, Kate Daniels series is widely recognized as one of the best urban fantasy series in the market. I have written about the series here. After several pretty decent novels there came a serious dip in the form of Magic Shifts, then a couple of novellas about side characters from Kate Daniels’ world, and an entirely new urban fantasy/romance series before finally the ninth book saw the light of day.

Magic Binds garners enthusiastic reviews from critics and fans alike, showcasing all the strengths of the previous novels. The end of the 10-book story arc is near, and so the ninth book cannot but head toward some kind of a grand conclusion, upping the ante and preparing ground for the big climax. All the smoldering conflicts burst up in flames, all the grudges and favors are coming to the fore once more, and the knowledge of previous events is a must. It follows logically that the readers in general – and the people writing reviews specifically – have invested so much into the series already that their reception might be more than just a bit skewed.

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A few words on not liking Kate Daniels series.

I am conflicted about urban fantasy lately. Maybe that will change when Butcher finally gives us the next Dresden story, but my last encounters with the genre were unlucky. I couldn’t get into October Daye, Iron Druid Chronicles books were boring, pretentious disaster, Laurell K. Hamilton is ancient history better left forgotten.

Oh, there is also Ben Aaronovitch, and hopefully his next book will be published this year. Regrettably The Rivers of London have their place in paperback part of my bookshelf and so I won’t be able to read it for a good while. But it’s completely different pair of shoes than Ilona Andrews and their Kate Daniels series.

It turns out the only urban fantasy series with female lead I enjoy is Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson. Mercy I adore. Strong female protagonist that stands on her own, romances a guy, marries him and don’t spend pages after pages fantasizing about musculature of werewolves around her. Or, when does, the rest is interesting enough that I don’t mind.

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Ilona Andrews, Magic Shifts (2015)

magic-shiftsSo how about a lighter, or shadier, type of fantasy than the big books I have talked about lately? 🙂 I will come back to Robin Hobb, I promise, just not today. Let’s jump to urban fantasy genre for a moment.

Magic Shifts is an eight installment in Kate Daniels’ world. Seven previous ones formed a complete story arc and I wrote about them here. I imagine that this new book was a difficult one for the authors: they had to start again, almost from scratch, with an old material, and after seven books it’s really hard to squeeze it even for a few drops of something unique. It must have been very demanding, especially taking under consideration their huge fan base, and I’m afraid they ultimately didn’t succeed. All the right elements are there – Ilona Andrews still knows how to write, how to build a story, how to create powerful, gripping scenes. Magic Shifts is even more picturesque than the previous books and would be a great film material – but the magic has really shifted. And, sadly, it’s almost entirely gone.

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Ilona Andrews, Kate Daniels series (2007–present)

kate-daniels-coversSince we’ve already entered the wide expanse of urban fantasy, the time has come to look a bit at the works of Ilona Andrews. Ilona Andrews is a pen name of a married couple: Russian immigrant Ilona and her husband Gordon, a former communications sergeant in US Army. Why is it so important to know who they are? Because their background deeply influences the content of their books.

The most well-known series – and the one that has been in part translated to Polish – is Kate Daniels. The eighth book comes out in August, there are also some tie-ins and novellas, and a slew of short stories. And it’s still a work in progress, with at least two novels planned. In short – a lot. Theirs is a big and brave new world, where magic and technology compete with each other, flooding the planet in alternating waves. When the technology has an upper hand, guns and cars and telephones work perfectly well. There’s electricity and computers. When magic gains eminence, there’s monsters. Spells. Buildings crashing down. And a lot of hand-to-hand combat.

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