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Spellbound: Book #2 of the Grimnoir Chronicles
Larry Correia
Baen, 448 pages

Larry Correia
Larry Correia is the New York Times bestselling author of the Monster Hunter series for Baen Books. He graduated with a degree in accounting from Utah State University and went to work for a Fortune 500 company as a financial analyst. Eventually, Larry ended up in the gun business, where he was a machinegun dealer, firearms instructor, and freelance writer for various gun magazines. Most recently he has worked in military contracting. Larry lives in the mountains of Utah with his wife and children.

Larry Correia Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Hard Magic

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

'"She used her Power, just a tiny bit, and thought hard about Francis to awaken the design. If it worked like it was supposed to, his ring would burn and get his attention.'
Spellbound continues on directly from Larry Correia's first novel in this sequence, Hard Magic, opening with a suicidal assassination attempt on US President Roosevelt. It is a crime which is set up to look as if it was perpetrated, not only by a magic user, but also one that was a member of the clandestine Grimnoir Society. Those behind the attempt are revealed, to the reader, as a kind of steampunk CIA, deliberately stirring up major trouble, with the ultimate aim of introducing legislation to force all Actives to register as state assets. Meanwhile, the hero of book one, Jake Sullivan, finds himself at a super secret facility, in order to take a call via the world's only 'spirit telephone,' created from designs by this world's Edison. Sullivan has an unnerving conversation with a dead dictator -- a man he was instrumental in killing -- yet who has chosen him from the great beyond to carry a dire warning to mankind. The alien entity known as the Power, from which all human magic originates, arrived on our world while running from a predator among its own kind; an eater of worlds that is soon to arrive on planet Earth. And so it begins, racing headlong into what Silver Age Marvel comics might have described as a pulse pounding adventure.

In many ways, what Larry Correia is doing here is a superhero comic in literary form. A gun-toting, slightly uncouth cousin to George R.R. Martin's excellent Wild Cards series. Technically, it's steampunk laced with magic. But almost every 'magical' ability in this story is more like a superpower, originating from a single alien source. Mixing things up a bit are elements of a less muddy magical nature, such as those whose power is Summoning; the ability to pull demonic or ghostly forms from another dimension. Interestingly, we learn that the specific place is a former refuge of the Power. The remaining life forms there now inhabit an utterly devastated world, after encountering the magic-eating Enemy; an entity that gives the impression of being Galactus, without the coat-hanger hat and gay disco threads. Among the many plusses in Spellbound is that the fun factor, character development, and world building scale even greater heights than its predecessor. Yet some of the problems from Hard Magic carry over. The author stubbornly insists that his characters are 'wizards,' despite that much of what they do clearly being rooted in geometry that intersects with alien science. As with the first book, some chapters are split by embarrassingly poor full page graphics. Given that Larry Correia, when away from his keyboard, is a competitive shooter, firearms instructor and accountant, it is not unreasonable to expect him to have a better eye for detail. Especially when it comes to errors that unintentionally distract the reader. These niggling issues aside, this second novel of Grimnoir Chronicles does not disappoint in its primary objective. Inventive twists of alternate back history work with sly references to individuals who, in our world, followed a different path, combining to add substance, authenticity and crucial individuality to this series. By the time I got to the last page I was, once again, eager for more.

In a genre rapidly becoming stuffed with mediocre products, Spellbound has enough of what it takes to rise above much of the competition. Larry Correia writes in a style that while modern and accessible, is also nicely seasoned with the essence of Ditko era comic books, and just the right amount of pulp fiction appeal. The entertainment value is high, the plotting lean and mean, and the characterisation evolving very nicely indeed. It's definitely one to buy.

Copyright © 2012 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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