Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews, Books 1-5

Hey, another five-in-one, it’s almost like I’m not neglecting to post at all.

In an (ultimately destined to fail) attempt to read fewer romance novels, I started reading the Kate Daniels Urban Fantasy series. I borrowed the first 2 from the library because I’ve been burned by UF before (ahem, The Hollows/Rachel Morgan and obvs Anita Blake) and didn’t want to waste my money.

Encapsulate This

Set in Atlanta (sometime in the unspecified future), magic and technology co-exist uneasily. At any given moment, one or the other takes precedence and you could find your car stopping in the middle of street during a magic wave, or your wards failing during a tech wave. Tall buildings tend to fall down, and horse-back is probably the most dependable way to travel. Vampires, were-animals, fabled heroes, and various other not-so-mythological and fantastic creatures walk the streets.

Magic Bites: Kate Daniels lives near-ish to the city, she’s got an awesome sword and a bad attitude. Her former guardian has been murdered and she is out for justice (revenge really, it’s always revenge) and to find the killer, she has to cooperate with the Masters of the Dead (necromancers) and with the Pack (the various weres). Kate’s a sometime-mercenary, an all-the-time loner, and has a secret she must keep hidden at all costs.

Magic Burns: Someone is stealing from the Pack and they have requested Kate’s assistance with finding the thief. If that wasn’t enough, the magic waves have been coming closer together and will culminate in what is known as a flare. At the height of a flare, gods can walk the earth. If Kate can’t figure who out how to stop them from manifesting, shit will get real.

Magic Strikes: When Kate’s friend from the Pack gets himself nearly killed, she has to finagle her way into the Midnight Games (hey, an underground death match!) to find out who done it. What she discovers is a plot that could change the Pack FOREVER (doom doom doom).

Magic Bleeds: Someone is killing some other people, and Kate is called in to figure out who/why/how (they know where). Turns out that her secret is coming to bite her in the ass but it may also be the only reason she will survive the encounter with a deadly member of her own family…

Magic Slays: Kate is now running her own show and she hops on her first paying gig. The vampires are escaping the control of the necromancers and the Masters of the Dead want to know why. There is way more at stake than anyone realizes (hah, I made a pun) and Kate must stop a nefarious plot before it’s too late.  

Ruminate on That

When I first finished Magic Bites, I wasn’t totally enthralled but I was certainly intrigued. I thought the book was well written, had a pretty original take on magic in the modern world, some solid world-building, and had an independent, sword-carrying lady-protagonist that was like-able but not love-able. Kate’s smart but fallible, really good at what she does but not perfect, and she is terrible at personal relationships. She does sometimes take her independence to the point of idiocy, but that’s fine, she has a sword (I will forgive a lot of things if there are swords involved). Anyway, I liked it enough to nab the second book and Magic Burns builds on all the promise of the first book. While the story line is a bit confusing, it is more interesting because it reveals more about Kate’s history and the world-building just keeps on getting better. I liked book 2 so much that I immediately purchased books 3, 4, and 5 for my Kindle so I wouldn’t have to wait for the library copies (seriously library, one copy of each?). GUESS WHAT? I was not disappointed. Magic Strikes is AWESOME. I will go so far as to say it is the best of the series. Magic Bleeds and Magic Slays are pretty wicked but there is a bit more focus on romance and less on the total bad-assery that is Kate Daniels. The romance doesn’t overtake the story and I happen to like romance (no doy) but I thought that the tension between Kate and Mystery Man (totally not a mystery if you read the books, go read them) in book 3 was perfect. Also, underground DEATH MATCH. Also, also, Kate loves The Princess Bride (the book not the movie, since television doesn’t really work) which makes her a winner. Also, also, also Kate is (occasionally) hysterically funny, I cannot tell you how many weird looks I got from the boyfriend because I was laughing alone in the dark (not actually in the dark, else how would I be reading?) (Okay, no more also’s, I promise.)

I think that the series, which is awesome in many, many ways, has most of its strength in Kate’s character growth. She goes from “Meh, she’s aight” to “Whoa, that is one awesome lady*” without her becoming so perfect that I want to gag.

*(Unlike Anita Blake who became magic just because, Kate’s been training her whole life both with a sword and with magic. She is a special snowflake, but there are actual reasons for it. Also (hah, I lied), Kate’s extra-super-special-ness provides the focus and the final conclusion for the series. A lot of UF tends not to have an end-point and the stories are about whatever so they go on FOREVER and lose any cohesion they might have begun with (much like this sentence…). I don’t particularly care if it takes 10 books to get to the conclusion, I just want there to be a purpose (I do love a Great Quest). What I don’t want is to watch a character meander around doing whatever until the author gets bored or the series stops making money.)

Final Reckoning

Should you read these? HELL to the YES. Grab a snuggy and settle in for the weekend. The series gets better and better (despite what I said about book 3, that one was just my personal favorite).  I would hazard that there are at least 2 more books to come (the website lists that book 6 is in progress) but it’ll probably be awhile since the author/s have another series being released more-or-less concurrently. 


  1. My library, like, can't get Books 1 - 3 of this. So they keep emailing me going "WE HAVE THESE BOOKS" only they are 4 & 5 and, useless.

    Swords! Who doesn't like swords?

  2. BOO! That sucks. They aren't lendable either else I would send you mine.