Friday, September 12, 2014

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels Series #8) by Ilona Andrews

Tensions between the Pack –and Kate –and Roland heat up. Hugh, Roland’s warlord, has come to Atlanta, taken over the People and is now using them to try and get to Kate. And if he has to go through the Pack to do it, or the Order of Merciful Aid, or anyone – he will do it.

As the threat of Roland gets ever closer to Atlanta, we get a sense of just how mighty this man is and how dangerous it is to oppose him – and Kate worries about leading the Pack, the people she cares about, in a war against such an overwhelming threat

She has some hard decisions to make and a whole new direction to take in facing off against her immensely powerful father


This book marks a major turning point in the story of Kate – or rather it brings a transition Kate has been kind of slouching towards in the last few books to a final and major point. Kate’s secret is out, Kate is known as the daughter of Roland, everyone knows it and knows it’s a very big deal

Ok, several people have known that Kate was Roland’s daughter for some time. But there’s a difference between “she’s the daughter of Roland the head of the People who re all necromancers” and Kate is the daughter of Roland, who was once Biblical Nimrod, a being of incredible, legendary, terrifying power and  quite capable of forming an immense empire, performing feats of magic that are not even imaginable by anyone else.  Yes, we’ve always had the immensity of Roland lurking in the background as an abstract force – but now it’s very much present and immediate – and epic.

I can’t really stress the epic enough here because it’s so well done in this book in so many places and in so many ways – and it’s also essential. The whole series changes from this book. Kate and Curran have had their relationship in focus, then the pack in focus and are now moving on to a whole different part of their stories; and part of what makes their choices in this book and especially the astonishing ending of this book work is the presentation of Roland as an epic threat

And not just Roland as an epic threat – but also establishing that Kate, as Roland’s daughter and an inheritor of a small percentage of his epicness, as the only viable counter to Roland’s dominance and, again, shifts the perception of the pack and Kate’s place in it. For a while there has been the underlying assumption that the Pack provides and army with which to oppose Roland – which is well and truly shattered in this book. A combination of the Pack’s continual lack of acceptance of Kate (as well as the pack’s own internal divisions and dysfunction), of Kate feeling so protective of the Pack that she is in some ways unable to act as a ruler since she simply cannot make the hard choices and, ultimately, because Roland is so powerful that the Pack would less opposing army and more briefly annoying speed bump.

That’s a major shift in the books and it I done excellently (and epicly). Roland’s power – from his impossible prison, to the visions of the witches and to Roland’s own mightiness and everyone’s abject terror of him, it’s really really clear just how immensely (and epicly) powerful he is. Similarly Kate is bigged up, we see her sword skill in excellent detail in a way we haven’t seen before as well as her magic clearly going toe-to-toe with the mightiest out there (including the mightiest serving Roland) and making it clear that Kate is out of their league – out of anyone’s league – but her own father’s.

Which is epic and glorious but also has a huge risk of story breakage due to immensely powerful protagonist – but even that is countered not just by friends and people she desperately cares for  but also by her need for rescue and the power of those friends – and Curran – saving her. I know, female protagonists needing rescue is a tiresome trope (Super Damsels everywhere!) and this series is certainly no stranger to it – which is a problem because on its own it would work stylistically in this book to remind us why Kate doesn’t just go it alone beyond emotional reasons. (It also brings Ghastek into the book with a lot of development and history which is really awesome and an excellent class analysis as well).

Needless to say, the characterisation and the story were both excellent – and epic – and have made me really excited to see where Kate goes from here and how her and Curran’s plot develops with such a completely unexpected twist at the end. It really has upended the series – and I’m excited about it. And since this is the Kate Daniels World it goes without saying that the world building is epic, awesome and original.

This is also a world with a lot of diversity. Kate is beyond doubt a WOC, born to Mesopotamian parents; obviously so is Roland. The head of security and a major figure in the Pack is Jim who is Black and the head of the werecats and probably the most important and involved shifter after Curran. Dr. Doolittle, the awesome medmage is also Black. The head of the Bouda, Raphael, who features largely in the series is latino, as is Ascanio, he-who-Kate-may-strangle-one-day. Nasrin, a werelion medmage, is Iranian. Members of the Order come from several different races as does the pack in general and Roland’s followers – diversity is standard among each faction. There are also some awesome female characters – and not just Kate (who oozes awesome from every pore) but I loved Desandra in this book – ruthless, capable, ultimately practical, crafty and snarky. Nasrin is calm, collected, skilled – and deadly.

I also liked that we got to see the alphas of the wererats who are gay and non-stereotyped. I was always curious about them because until this point they have been very much the Gay Maris of the series – mentioned but only in passing and for little involvement in the actual plot (either their clans or they themselves). The only other LGBT character I can remember in this series is Barnabas who is dogged by some unfortunate tropes. I’m glad to see Robert here in such detail and being kind of awesome and hope this is a herald of things to come – since it has been a hole in the series

Dr. Doolittle is in a wheelchair – and while there’s a downside to the disability representation there that he is apparently healing because WOOWOO and will get up (eventually), there’s also an utter awesome moment when Dr. Doolittle embraces being disabled, the new perspective and insights its has brought him and the new ways he experiences life because of it – and sees them as positive additions to his life and in no way does it make him any less than what he once was; and any differences from what he once was are things he appreciates.

This is an excellent book – one which annoyed me when it was over because I wanted to keep going and see where Kate goes from here. Full o epic, action and great characterisation – bring on the next Kate Daniels book!

(Because ALL THE FANGS is not a rating)