Like I said at the end of my Magic Rises review, I might just crack and read the next book in the Kate Daniels series. 3 days later, I finished the next book. Now all I need to do is read Magic Shifts and I’m all caught up with the series. I was a little disappointed with a few aspects of Rises but still liked it overall. Magic Breaks on the other hand is just awesome.
Written by Ilona Andrews (the husband and wife writing team of Gordon and Ilona Andrews), the Kate Daniels series takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. After centuries of being suppressed by technology, magic returned with a vengeance. There are shapeshifters that take on various animals, including (among others) werewolves, werelions, and of course the awesomely insane werehyenas. Magic slams the world like the tide; when it’s in, technology doesn’t work and all sorts of weird things can happen. The plots in this series range from mythical deities at war with each other (book 2), Underground fight clubs (book 3), anti-magic terrorists (book 5) and the building main conflict in the series that’s best left vague for newcomers.
Kate is a magic wielding mercenary in this crazy world. She has a bit of a caustic personality, although she’s softened up a lot over the course of the series. She’s a fantastic character who is very protective of those she cares about and has a great sense of humour. Even though she’s very powerful with her magical abilities, she never feels like a Mary Sue. There’s a good balance of Kate her crushing her opposition, barely surviving tough fights and needing backup. And of course the main villain far outclasses her in many ways.
The supporting cast is also great, with Curren, the Beast Lord (in charge of the Pack, Atlanta’s shapeshifter community), Andrea, her sharpshooting best friend, and a bunch of others. It also helps that these characters are always going through changes of their own, keeping them fresh while still holding onto their basic personalities. The main villain isn’t exactly what you’d expect judging by how he’s been built up. This makes him a much more interesting character in the end.
Magic Breaks, book 7 in the series, partly concludes a plot thread that’s been building since book 3. Without specific spoilers, she’s been raised specifically to kill a very powerful person that she has a personal connection to. In this book they finally meet. In addition, there’s a lot of politics between the rival organizations in Atlanta, and the politics within the Pack. I’ve read a few fans saying that they grew tired of the politics by the end of the book, but personally I loved it.
The action is probably the most intense it’s ever been in the series and the pacing is relentless. There are battles where the main characters are being chased by legions of vampires, and Kate and Curran deal with a very powerful enemy on several occasions. Even so, there’s always plenty of room for character development, dramatic moments and some big plot reveals. In a lot of ways this feels like a culmination of the entire series. Although there’s another book released and at least 2 more to come, by the end of Magic Breaks the rest of the series will clearly be in a new direction.
I’ve said this before, but as a writer myself, Ilona Andrews’ writing makes me want to improve my own craft. She comes up with fun ways to describe the environments and the action. Also, the dialogue is often funny. For the sake of it, here are a few quotes.
“Do you know what most people have from their grandmother? A tea set. Or a quilt.” Curran smiled. “If your family had a quilt, it would be made out of chimera skin and stuffed with feathers from dead angels.”
“’What the hell is this?’ Desandra asked
“This is Cuddles. She’s a mammoth donkey.”
Derek grinned, leaning on the fence. “Do you have any self-respect left?”
“’Fortune favors the brave,’ I told her. It also kills the stupid, but I decided to keep that fact to myself.”
Since I started reading this series about 2 years ago, it’s quickly become a favourite. This is, in my opinion, the best Kate Daniels novel yet. If there is a downside to the relentless pace, it’s that some of the supporting characters’ lives are barely touched on. While classified as an urban fantasy, I’d sooner call it a high fantasy. There are a lot of complex ideas behind how magic works, there’s great use of obscure mythology and even though it takes place on Earth, it’s a very different world than the one we live in. If any of this interests you, by all means check this series out. Of course, I’d recommend you start with book 2. The first two books are self-contained and the second explained the world better, plus it’s more enjoyable. Magic Breaks is a direct continuation from the last and much of the drama relies on knowing what happened in previous books.
After this, I’m still going to read a non-fiction book before I read another novel, and again it’s most likely one I won’t be posting about. After that, it’s either Magic Shifts or something else, and then it’ll be Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. As for my writing, I’m taking this month off to focus on querying literary agents. Next month, I’ll be working on a bunch of short stories while I’ll also be planning this year’s Nanowrimo projects.