RogerBW's Blog

Magic Binds, Ilona Andrews 30 August 2019

2016 modern fantasy, ninth in the Kate Daniels series. Kate's father Roland continues to poke at her claim of the city of Atlanta, this time by kidnapping people under her protection. Kate and Curran agree to marry. And then there's the matter of prophecies…

…which should tell you that this isn't a good place to start the series. There's some tissue of explanation, but the emotional weight one attaches to the characters is something that's been built up over the previous eight books (plus side material), and that can't be replicated by a short introduction.

The main thing going on here is Kate trying to maintain a stand-off with Roland: she still knows she's going to have to fight him eventually, but people are going to die in the process, and she's trying to put that off at least until she has the best chance of success and can minimise casualties. At the same time she's entirely untrained in the magical side of claiming a territory, and it's not entirely clear how much the pressure just to use the power, to be a tyrant just a little bit and just for everyone's good, can be resisted.

At the same time, the wedding preparations make for effective comic relief, without descending into farce. One of the things I love about the Andrews author-composite is that they almost always stay true to their characters: when Kate is in a comical wedding situation, she remains Kate, rather than being forced into the persona that would make the joke of the moment work. The glaring exception is the treatment of Jim, who's been a romantic hero in side stories and so comes off badly when he's forced to be inconvenient minor opposition for bad reasons.

"Before I forget," Roman said. "Sienna said to tell you to beware…" He reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. "Crocuta crocuta spelaea. Apparently it's going to try to murder you. Don't you want to eat some delicious cake before you die a horrible death?"

All right, there's a great deal going on here, and if you're having trouble keeping people straight that doesn't get any better. All the pieces are on the board and in position for the final volume, and this one is weakened slightly by having to do that, but it's still a decent series entry.

"You're like a walking mythological encyclopedia, Kate. You pull random mystical crap out of your head and figure out that a giant monster nobody has seen on the face of the planet for three thousand years is allergic to hedgehogs and then you find a cute hedgehog and stab the monster in the eye with it."

Key lesson taken from this series: get the people right and the rest will follow.

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