The goal I set for myself this year is to read at least one novel every month I’m not writing. Because I finished the second draft of my story early though, I decided to take a head start this month … and I finished this book the same month I finished writing my draft. I’m not sure I can properly count it now.
Magic Strikes is the third book in the Kate Daniels series; a fantasy series by Ilona Andrews starring a magic-wielding mercenary in a post-apocalyptic world filled with all sorts of weirdness. I’ve posted about the previous two novels, Magic Bites and Magic Burns, and it’s quickly becoming a favourite series of mine. While my opinion of the book will be explained, this isn’t really a review. These are my thoughts on the book as a writer.
First, let’s talk about the book itself. It takes place in Atlanta in a future where centuries of technology ruling the world ended with a huge wave of magical power. Ever since, Magic has come in waves. When the magic is on, technology doesn’t work and those attuned to arcane abilities can wield their powers. When the magic is off, technology works. Kate Daniels, the series main character, is a sword-wielding magic user who works as a liaison between the Order (sort-of a law-enforcement agency) and the Pack, the largest organization of shapeshifters in the south.
Magic Strikes takes place several months after Magic Burns, and it’s kind of hard to talk much about the story without spoiling it. The long and short is that there’s an illegal gladiatorial arena in town, and it turns out that something in the arena is a huge threat to the Pack. In order to protect the clan, Kate and a bunch of others have to enter a tournament in the arena. The base story is fairly straight forward, but there’s a lot going on that adds extra depth.
The first two books in this series act perfectly as one-off novels. This book should be easy to understand on its own, even if you haven’t read the previous entries. It explains everything you need to know, and references events from the first few books without spoiling their fun for anyone who wants to go back to read them. This however is the first book in the series that really starts building this universe as a potential epic. There are so many reveals weaved into it and so many promised conflicts for the future.
Kate’s ancestry has been hinted at before, but about two-thirds the way through the book, it’s directly stated who her father is and why she’s so powerful with magic. It explores her past a lot more, revealing why she has a bit of a caustic personality. The revelation, along with how this book ends, promises a greater conflict on the way. Also, she learns an awesome new power near the end of the book. She’s not the only character with major reveals either. We learn more about Curren’s past (Curren is The Pack’s Beast Lord), and even more about Saiman, an expert on magical information who’s only been a minor character up till now.
In terms of action, this book is a little more subdued than the last. Magic Burns had an action scene every few chapters, even if some of them were less than a page long. This one aims for a slower build-up, having most of the major action scenes in the last third of the book. The pacing is still very good, and even with four action scenes within the last few chapters there’s still room to breathe and for a bit more character development.
Where this book really excels is the writing style. It’s written in first person from Kate’s perspective, and her narration is just fun. It’s always entertaining how her internal thoughts and spoken words often directly contradict each other, whether she’s trying to deny how she thinks of certain people or she tries to act polite while insulting them with her thoughts. The head games she plays with Curren are increasingly delightful with each entry in the series and the tension between them has reached critical mass. Despite her caustic personality though, she’s truly a hero at heart, willing to sacrifice herself to protect those she cares about.
As a writer, I’m glad I read this book. As with the first two entries, this book makes me want to write in a more entertaining way. It makes me want to find more creative and entertaining ways to describe things.
I am now a fan of this series, and I kind of want to read the next book right now. That said, I’m trying to mix up what I read, and the next book will have to be something different. My options are either Midnight’s Daughter, a book about a dhampir, Dracula the Undead by Freda Warrington, an unofficial sequel to the original Dracula novel (and it’s supposed to be fairly good, unlike Darcy Stoker’s completely unfaithful sequel) or I could read one of the Ian Fleming James Bond books, since my series is partly inspired by James Bond. I’ve read that not only is Moonraker much different than the movie, but one of the better books in the series, so I might try that one. I do plan to read Marvel’s novelization of the Civil War event, but that probably won’t be until after I read Magic Bleeds (book 4).