Thursday, August 11, 2016

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona Andrews

It’s coming. Nimrod has been poking at Kate’s borders so many times and she cannot keep ignoring it. She cannot let this go. It is time for a war.

I love this series!

I love it love it love it love it. And this book excellently continues this whole awesome series. This was one of those books where I got it, retreated to my bedroom and snarled at anyone who dared to interrupt me

Friends, family, beloved husband – I love you all. I just love the book more. Come back in a couple of days when I’ve finished this and maybe I will notice humanity again. Maybe

This includes sleep. Sleep can take a back seat, I have this book. This is amazing. This is my life now. Bury me with this book

Kate faces some absolutely excellent conflict here – influenced by her magical claiming of the city of Atlanta. There’s an excellent magical explanation for this in the growing world building of this series (more of that later because it’s awesome) but it wasn’t so forced as to change Kate’s character. Even without the magic, I could see Kate moving down some of these pathways – ok not all of them (and the woo-woo driving her to dominate and control what I hers) – but her being generally hacked off by people challenging her, giving her shit and not coming close to respecting her for all the sacrifices she has made.

This is a long series and through that series we’ve had Kate save the city and the world quite regularly. We’ve also seen people fail her, a lot, over and over again. She has proven herself time and time again even as the people she have saved continue to fail her, not trust her and often not make her much of a priority for them. This is one of the reasons why Kate and Curran left the pack in a previous book. So, for me, seeing Kate push back and respond to, for example, Jim threatening her with

“If I ever turn into my father, you will kneel and pledge yourself to me, Jim.”

And I cheered. I did. Because this was past time doing this. It also made her power creep complicated. Because part of her was very justified in wanting to push back against the insults she takes for constantly saving people with her vast power and then having the people she just saved being terrified by that same power. But that’s the complexity – because she is powerful, never more so than in this book – she is terrifying in her power and even though she’s never given anyone reason to doubt her the mere fact she can destroy the entire city makes her a terrifying force. Especially with the woo-woo now being such a pressure on her she has some really excellent conflicts where she is aware she’s circling the abyss

This is clear in all her relationships especially Curran. Obviously this has been the defining relationship of this series for so long. Their love hasn’t always been smooth and their previous issues rise up now when facing Kate’s ascendant power. Curran loves her, is loyal to her but is more than a little afraid of her and what she’s becoming (and of course she makes a joke about this because that is them). While Kate worries about the lines she’s crossing and how far the power will drive Curran away, especially her ability to enslave people and the magic driving her to see people as objects and tools. It’s an excellent depiction of her moral conflict and the conflict between being ruler and person

The relationship with her father is perhaps the gem of this book. He genuinely loves her and she seems to actually care about him. What is interesting is that, throughout this series, Roland/Nimrod has been an absolutely terrifying force. He’s literally Biblical, he is enormously powerful. He is terrifying. And in this book Kate stands up to him, challenges him and shouts him down - this isn’t Roland being weakened or made less epic – this is making Kate that much more powerful. Kate has stepped up. Kate is epic. Kate is a power and she can stand up to Roland as an equal. Something she demands he acknowledge

This doesn’t even come close to the number of other powerful relationships Kate has, especially Julie her ward, Derek, Saiman and so many more.

And Erra. Her undead aunt, the City Eater who is just perfect and awesome and I can’t even begin to cover all of what this means because this review is already becoming ludicrously – long but it’s just so much fun.

On top of this we have an utterly epic world building which I’ve said in book after book with all the mighty research merged perfectly with the incredible imagination and depth of the world building. On top of this we have those wonderful moments when random people will, after hearing Kate’s awesome history lessons, will say things like “You’re from Eden!?” (and I love her take on the Eden mythology). This adds to the general storyline as both the history and nature of their powers are essential part of the story

Which is awesome. Of course it’s awesome. It’s full of action and ominousness and excellent world building and relationships, never pausing for a second as we lead up to a truly epic battle

And love that battle. I love how it drew on so many different characters and their pasts – including the Russian Volv and worshipper of Chernobog and even a really nice moment from Dali the white were-tiger which took the past world building of her being a purifying force (I love this, I love that these past stories being ). It’s an awesome, epic conclusion to an absolutely awesome, complex and original book

Ooh oooh, I forgot the wedding! I forgot the evil Volv wedding planning and his feuding witchy parents! See, all this epic writing, excitement, amazing world building and it’s funny too?! Yes, I love this series and I’m just going to fanpoodle everything….

Exxxxceeeeeeeept the LGBTQ inclusion because we have Barabas (the rat alphas are mentioned briefly, but it’s exactly that, briefly) Kate’s happy GBF servant, a lawyer who left the pack and his position to be Kate’s full time servant (rather than part time) with a side-gig of being nursemaid to a guy Kate kind of dumped on him. After many books we have a belated attempt to realise this gay character should actually have a reason for throwing away his whole life on Kate’s whim and decided to make him super involved in the Guild. Except he’s not. The Mercenary’s guild is entirely Curran’s baby and deciding Barabas is making this his thing despite his complete lack of interest before (or during) this book, really just establishes him as Curran’s servant as well. Some of the problem here is that after so many books there has been so little effort to turn Barabas into an actual character with actual storylines and aims and hopes and a life of his own (especially glaring in this series because so many of the characters do) means that these belated and flawed attempt to patch a token into an actual character feel exactly like that

For POC we have a large number of characters who have long histories in this series. We have Kate, of course, of Babylonian descent who has only become more and more open with her history and past. Jim, the leader of the shifers, is a Black man and his mate, Dali is Indonesian. Raphael, prominent Bouda is Latino as is Ascanio, one of Kate’s staff members who is actually growing and showing a more complex side to himself. Mahon, the great bear and his family are all Black and Curran’s extended family. George, Mahon’s daughter, is married to the Latino/Middle Eastern Eduardo who was only a brief mention here but has a much more advanced depiction in previous books. George and Dr. Doolittle are also disabled and Dr. Doolittle is Black – both of these characters (along with Nasrin, Dr. Doolittle’s fellow medmage and middle eastern Muslim character) are more mentioned in this book than expanded on, along with the Indonesian and nearly blind Dali – but they’re characters with strong history and established presence in the series. On top of this there is a vast array of briefly appearing chartacters from every subset – the knights, the wizards, the mercenary guild and there is an ongoing depiction of POC in more detail even for this background characters: such as a character not just being Black, but Tongan and describing the magic and ritual tattoos she has (which also works really well with the world building as it establishes Kate’s encyclopaedic knowledge). Some are only tiny roles. Some are major roles. Some have had long character arcs and histories that are essential to the overarching story – but overwhelmingly there’s a lot of POC here.

This book series is the ultimate trap for me. I have books to read. I have a lot of books to read and review. But when I pick up a Kate Daniel’s book it is so very hard not to throw all those books aside and go back to Magic Bites and read the whole series again and again and again and again. With the amount I read it’s hard to pick among my favourite. But this series is it. Not just one of my favourites, but hands down my favourite. That’s not a slur on any other beloved series – this is just so good and keeps getting better.