Blood Engines * 0.5
I’ll do the review I forgot to promise you of Touch of Twilight later, but I wanted to go ahead and give my impressions of Blood Engines now that I’m 1/2 way through it. If I keep at this pace, I may even finish reading Poison Sleep today.
I’ve read much less fantasy than science fiction, but one thing I’m fairly certain of is that magic results in consequences. I heard an interview on Adventures in SciFi Publishing (I’m pretty sure it was this episode) recently where a writer referred to his writing as “hard fantasy” in much the same way I’d talk about hard science fiction. He basically said that he liked creating magical systems. He wanted more complexity than the hand waving magic that just happens, used by Gandalf and the like in high fantasy.
I’d like to apply the label “hard fantasy” to Blood Engines. I just encountered the 3rd of San Fransisco’s wizards, a technomage of sorts. Both this fellow and the porno mage encountered earlier are masters of very well defined and distinct magic system. By comparison Marla Mason comes off as sort of the magical equivalent of Batman, defined in equal parts by her tools (cloak and dagger) and by her dark personality/wit. Both her and the Chinese mage (encountered before the technomage and the pornomage) come off a bit more like the all powerful mages of high fantasy and thus show the specialized mages in stark contrast. The the tension between him and Marla (and of course the looming threat of the opportunistic Susan who forced Marla to San Fransisco in the first place) keeps the tone of the story intense enough that snake gods and blood gods and the end of physical universe fit as seamlessly into San Fransisco as elves and orcs fit into Middle Earth.
I guess you can’t consider this a full review, as I’m only half way through the book, but I REALLY love the pieces that Pratt has pulled together here, and the story he’s building out of them has got me hooked. I was a little worried that the Pratt I’ve come to love via short stories and The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl would get lost in the more formulaic world of series fantasy, but so far I’m loving Blood Engines and look forward to following Marla Mason for quite a few books.
Currently listening to The Slip by NIN, available for free at that link.
originally published at journalscape here