The conclusion of the gritty noir alternate 1930’s magical world, first introduced in Hard Magic and Spellbound. It’s full of ninjas and zeppelins, political suppression of Actives, and an inter-dimensional monster that wants to suck the power out of the world before it destroys Earth. The re-imagined history sets tone and adds depth, in particular when Traveler Faye traverses through the Dead City (Berlin, now fully occupied by zombies), to find an oracle.
Heavy Jake Sullivan assembles a crew of fellow Grimnoir knights, airship pirates, and a former Imperium soldier, in order to do whatever they can to stop the monster. The impressive carnage and quippy dialogue of the climax continues the feel of the previous books, bringing the honorable good guys head-to-head with the evil predator that seeks to eat the living breathing creature that gives magic to the world.
For me, the novelty of the world wears off by this third edition, and combined with a lack of stakes or character arcs, it falls a star level for me compared to the initial two in the series. Jake is no longer the lead; instead we primarily follow Faye while she seeks answers about her role as the most powerful Active on the planet as a result of the Spellbound curse, probably doomed to madness. In addition, the politics within the story feel tacked on to the primary story line, and the few overt political messages meant for the reader are cheap and out of place.
Recommended for adventure-seekers who enjoy stories with great world-building, but do not necessarily need characters that grow. It’s pulpy, it’s fun, with plenty of blood-splattered satisfaction.
“Blood dripped from the spikes on his club. Toru turned in a slow circle. The walls were painted red. Broken bodies lay in piles. It is for the best.“