Monday, April 28, 2008

A tour of my favorite worldbuilding elements of Magic Bites so far

I'm about a third of the way into this book. It’s funny, I sort of wasn’t in the mood for an Urban Fantasy when I picked it up, but I am really enjoying it, particularly the awesome worldbuilding here.

MAGIC BITES by Ilona Andrews takes place in the somewhat near future, in an Atlanta ravaged by magical mayhem; there are ‘tech’ times where technology works, and there are these magic waves where magic dominates and things like cars don’t work, and the two forces seem to be struggling on a sort of invisible level. I could have that wrong, but it’s how it feels. The portrait of an out-of-whack society where people cope and survive is so well done.

This convincing and very comprehensive world also has a delightfully twisted sort of quality. I think maybe it’s partly the names. Example: this excerpt explaining the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid:
The Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid offered just what its name suggested: merciful aid to anyone who asked. If you could pay, they would charge you; and if you couldn’t, they would kill shit on your behalf pro bono. Officially their mission statement was to protect humanity against all harm, by magic or by weapon. Trouble was, their definition of harm seemed rather flexible and sometimes merciful aid meant they lopped your head off.
Other favorite names so far:

“The People,” this scary necro-oriented group, “Part cult, part corporation, part scientific institution” that controls vampires. (Vampires are monstery in this world—Grey Goose and designer duds not included!) What kind of fucked up name is the People for an organization like that? I love it every time I read it.

His Majesty Curran, the Chosen Lord of the Free Beasts. That’s the name for the head of the shapeshifter society here. I like the Free Beasts. You can almost imagine a kind of anarchic world where shapeshifters would sit around deciding on official names, and these would catch on with them. Chosen Lord. Free Beasts. These names feel wistfully aspirational.

Favorite architectural points so far:

The Unnamed Square, five city blocks reduced to rubble by various villains. “Even now, six years later, the city council refused to rename the empty space…reasoning that as long as it had no name, nobody could summon anything there.”

Champion Heights, a luxury high rise that seems to be semi-cloaked by magic. “Pale haze clung to its walls and balconies, blurring the crisp, man-made edges, as a web of wards worked tirelessly to convince the very magic which fed it that the high-rise was nothing but a large rock.” The effect: sections of it look like “portions of a steep granite cliff.”

Sort of humorous, yet vivid and dramatic.
Update: see part 2 of my Magic Bites discussion here.

37 comments:

lisabea said...

I like the humorous mixed with vivid and dramatic. I'm confused though by the cover. This looks like an ass kicking Chronicles of Narnia. It has romantic elemets, though?

I almost think I should give this to G. Has M read it? It looks like it would appeal to the Farscape/Battlestar Galactica man (or woman! Not sexist! Not!) (totally am).

Anonymous said...

This books is awesome. Kate is a great character and Curran...well...hotness. There really isn't a romance, but there is definitely some chemistry. It's worth your time.

Carolyn Jean said...

anonymous - totally agreed! I encountered even more awesomeness reading last night.

LB: G might like! Anon echoes what I have heard elsewhere, that this is not a romance-centered book. So I think it would appeal to the SF loving man. I certainly have not encountered any romance.

Sarai said...

I love this book Lisabea no romance but it hints at possible one in the future. It really is a kick ass female (Kate) and a very alpha male (Curran)it has just enough sexual tension to leave you wanting more!
GREAT SERIES dying for the third one!

Carolyn Jean said...

Sarai,
Yeah, I read about this book on your blog. Thanks for the recommendation.

Christine said...

I read both Magic Bites and Magic Burns earlier this month. I haven't written a review yet, but have made some comments here.. Ilona definitely has talent for world building. And CJ, if you are enjoying Magic Bites so much, wait till Magic Burns!! It is even better, IMHO!

I concur with anonymous & Sarai-although there's little sex and romance, the chemistry between the characters is very good. And realistic. It'll all be well worth the wait, I'm sure.

lisabea said...

Hmmm. More and more intriguing. If I spend any more money on books, G will bust a blood vessel. CJ, when you're done do you want to do a swap? I can dig around and find something super cool.

Katie(babs) said...

I put this series on hold at my library. Keep hearing great things about it :)And how can you go wrong with a heroine with the name of Kate?

Carolyn Jean said...

Christine, I didn't know you had that LJ. Your write up is great. Hey, I'm getting the impression you want more sex scenes!

LB, I would do a swap, and I am oh SO sure you can dig up something interesting. But it has to be paper. It takes me forever to read an ebook. Yeah, let's do it.

KB, What? A book you didn't get an ARC of? With a heroine named KATE? Heads will roll.

Katie(babs) said...

Yes CJ, for once I am not worthy of an ARC. :(

Carolyn Jean said...

No, you ARE worthy!

Katie(babs) said...

Well, 9 times out of 10 I usually am :D

Christine said...

I started posting to LJ only recently. I had been keeping track of the books I read each month on my myspace blog, but since it is private, not all my online friends can view it. So LJ is just a duplicate spot. :)

And yeah... the chemistry between Kate and Curran is awesome. And it is good that it is building up as it is... in urban fantasy, I think it makes for a better story. Its just that I just love romance and sex, so I'm a tad impatient. ;p

lisabea said...

Live Journal is an alternate reality.

And, CJ, rumor has it that our beloved Christine is smoking teh crack tonight.

Carolyn Jean said...

Are you telling me, my friend, that our Christine has a little something that RIGHTFULLY should have been sent by a certain waterfowl to YOU?

lisabea said...

That be what I said. ::shakes fist::

If I didn't adore her, I'd be sad. But I do adore her. So I'm happy.

So quiet here in bloglandia while all the friends indulge in illicit drugs.

Carolyn Jean said...

Did KB send it or did Christine get it sent to her????

lisabea said...

Christine has a friend. Who has a friend. This sounds familiar.

Carolyn Jean said...

Yes it does. And they both have pretty hair.
Did you think of a book you will send to me in exchange for this one?

Katie(babs) said...

Christine has her own special contact. KB is innocent and is sniffing the crack as we speak.

Carolyn Jean said...

We didn't mean THAT crack.

Katie(babs) said...

CJ, you know what special gift you are getting ;)

lisabea said...

I'm putting my thinking cap on. It has a couple of dangling bells on it.
Jingle Jingle


I completely forgot. Dang.

lisabea said...

O.M.G.

hahahahahahhahahahahah

Carolyn Jean said...

Yes, KB, and I am totally excited. I should send a special gift to you.

Carolyn Jean said...

I would send this one, but our LB gets it.

Christine said...

ROFLMAO!!!!!!

Carolyn Jean said...

Oh, look, here she is! Are you enjoying yourself?

lisabea said...

Well if her hands are in the crack, I'm guessing: YES! YES! YES!

Carolyn Jean said...

LOL. OMG.
Christine, you have to give us a report!

Christine said...

CarolynJean where are you? We're all on AIM right now......

sula said...

so um, in regards to the original post...I thought I saw a light sabre on the cover. heh.

Carolyn Jean said...

I was like, what? But I looked, and it does look like one. And in the book, sort of acts like one sometimes. Well, not really.

LesleyW said...

Yay! I am so glad you're reading this. Ilona Andrews is one of my favourite authors from 2007.

And I've just finished reading Magic Burns and recommend that too.

Carolyn Jean said...

I am loving it more and more, Lesley. I'm glad to hear you like the next, too. I'm definitely in for the whole series, and I'm sure I will gush about this book some more this week!

Thea said...

I *just* finished reading both books and posted over at our blog about them this morning :p I definitely agree that the author(s) (not sure how to address the both of them) have a knack for world building. I found BITES all right, but was completely won over by BURNS.

Oh and for the romance fans, Christine said it all :) There's some tension and a romantic subplot that feels very realistic.

Can't wait to see what you think of book 2!

naida said...

This one sounds good so far.

http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/