Mercenary Kate Daniels tries to save her city from divine intervention in this novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.
As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.
When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack—Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shape shifters—she quickly realizes much more is at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug of war between two gods hoping for rebirth, and if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, Atlanta may not survive...
About the Author
Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team, Gordon and Ilona. They currently reside in Texas with their two children and numerous dogs and cats. The couple are the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors of the Kate Daniels and Kate Daniels World novels as well as The Edge and Hidden Legacy series. They also write the Innkeeper Chronicles series, which they post as a free weekly serial. For a complete list of their books, fun extras, and Innkeeper installments, please visit their website at www.ilona-andrews.com.
Read an Excerpt
The phone rang in the middle of the night. The magic wave was in full swing, and the phone shouldn't have worked, but it rang anyway, again and again, outraged over being ignored, until finally I reached over and picked it up.
"Rise and shine, Kate." The smooth cultured voice on the line suggested a slender, elegant, handsome man, all things that Jim was not. At least not in his human shape.
I clawed my eyes open long enough to glance at the windup clock across the room. "Two in the morning. Some of us sleep during the night."
"I've got a gig," Jim said.
I sat up in the bed, wide awake. A gig was goodI needed the money. "Half."
"Thirty-five percent." Jim's voice hardened.
The phone went silent as my former Guild partner mulled it over. "Okay, forty."
I hung up. The bedroom lay quiet. My curtains were open and moonlight sifted into the room through the metal grate shielding the window. The moonlight acted as a catalyst and the metal bars glowed with a weak bluish patina where the silver in the alloy interacted with the ward spell. Beyond the bars, Atlanta slept like some hulking beast of legend, dark and deceptively peaceful. When the magic wave ended, as it inevitably would, the beast would awaken in an explosion of electric light and possibly gunfire.
My ward wouldn't stop a bullet, but it kept the magic hazmat out of my bedroom, and that was good enough.
The phone rang. I let it ring twice before I picked it up.
"Fine." Jim's voice had a hint of a snarl in it. "Half."
"Where are you?"
"In the parking lot under your window, Kate."
Calling from a pay phone, which shouldn't have worked, either. I reached for my clothes, left by the bed for just such an occasion. "What's the gig?"
"Some arsonist wacko."
Forty-five minutes later, I was winding my way through an underground garage and cursing Jim under my breath. With the lights knocked out by magic, I couldn't see my hand in front of my nose.
A fireball blossomed in the pitch-black depth of the garage. Huge, churning with violent red and yellow, it roared toward me. I jumped behind the concrete support, my throwing knife sweaty in my hands. Heat bathed me. For a moment I couldn't breathe, and then the fire hurtled past me to burst in an explosion of sparks against the wall.
A thin gleeful cackle emanated from the garage depths. I peeked out from behind the support in the direction of the sound. Nothing but darkness. Where was the tech shift when you needed one?
Across from me at the next row of supports Jim raised his hand and touched his fingers to his thumb a few times, imitating an opening and closing beak. Negotiate. He wanted me to engage a lunatic who had already turned four people into smoking meat. Okay. I could do that.
"All right, Jeremy!" I yelled into the night. "Give me the salamander and I won't cut your head off!"
Jim put his hand over his face and did some shaking. I thought he was laughing, but I couldn't be sure. Unlike him I didn't have the benefit of enhanced night vision.
Jeremy's cackle reached a hysterical crescendo. "Stupid bitch!"
Jim peeled himself from the support and melted into the darkness, tracking Jeremy's voice. His vision worked better than mine in low light, but even his sight failed in absolute darkness. He had to hunt by sound, which meant I had to keep Jeremy talking. While Jim stalked Jeremy's melodious voice, Jeremy, in turn, stalked me.
Nothing to worry about, just a homicidal pyromaniac armed with a salamander in a sphere of enchanted glass and intent on setting what was left of Atlanta on fire. The main thing was to keep the salamander's sphere safe. If that thing broke, my name would be more famous than Mrs. O'Leary's cow.
"Damn, Jeremy, you need to work on your vocabulary. So many good names to call me and the best you could come up with is bitch? Give me the salamander before you hurt yourself."
"Suck my dick . . . whore!"
A tiny spark flared into existence to the left of me. It hung suspended in the darkness, illuminating both the scaly outline of the salamander's mouth and Jeremy's hands clutching the glass sphere with white-knuckled need. The enchanted glass parted and belched the spark. The air hit the tiny packet of energy and the spark exploded into a fireball.
I ducked behind the support just as the fire smashed against concrete. Flames shot past on both sides of me. The acrid stench of sulfur stung my nostrils.
"That last fireball missed me by a mile. You shoot blanks with your other salamander, too, Jeremy?"
"Eat shit and die!"
Jim had to be close to him by now. I stepped into the open. "Come on, you sniveling shit for brains! Can't you do anything right?"
I saw flames, lunged to the side and hit the floor rolling. Above me the fire howled like an enraged animal. The handle of the knife burned my fingers. The air in my lungs turned to heat, and my eyes watered. I pressed my face into the dusty concrete, praying it didn't get any hotter, and then suddenly it was over.
Screw this. I jumped to my feet and charged in Jeremy's direction. The salamander flared within the sphere. I caught a flash of Jeremy's crooked smile above the glass. It wilted as Jim's dark hands closed around Jeremy's throat. The arsonist slumped, ragdoll limp, the sphere rolling from his weakened fingers. . . .
I dived for it, caught it three inches above the cement, and found myself face-to-face with the salamander. Ruby-red eyes regarded me with mild curiosity, black lips parted, and a long, spiderweb-thin filament of a tongue slithered from the salamander's mouth and kissed the sphere's glass in the reflection of my nose. I love you, too.
Gingerly I got to my knees and then to my feet. The salamander's presence tugged on my mind, as eager to please as an overly enthusiastic kitten arching her back for a stroke. Visions of flames and heat wavered before me. Let's burn something. . . . I slammed my mental shutters closed, locking her out of my mind. Let's not.
Jim relaxed his hold on Jeremy and the arsonist sagged to the ground like a wet blanket. The whites of his eyes stared at the ceiling from his slack face, caught by death in a moment of utter surprise. No pulse check needed for this one. Shit. There goes the capture bonus.
"You said it was a live-preferred bounty," I murmured. The living Jeremy was worth a lot more than his corpse. We'd still get paid, but we had just waved a third of the money good-bye.
"It is." Jim twisted the body on its side, exposing Jeremy's back. A thin metal shaft, tipped with three black feathers, protruded from between Jeremy's shoulders blades. Before my mind had the time to digest its significance, I hit the deck, cradling the salamander. Jim somehow got there before me.
We stared into the gloom. Darkness and silence.
Someone had taken out our mark with a crossbow bolt. Could have taken us out as well. We had stood by the body for at least four seconds. More than enough time to squeeze off two shots. I touched Jim and touched my nose. He shook his head. With all the sulfur in the air he probably couldn't smell a skunk if it sprayed him in the face. I lay very still and tried to breathe quietly. Listening was our best bet.
A minute dragged by, long, viscous, and silent. Very slowly Jim shifted into a crouch and nodded to the left. I had a vague feeling the door lay to the right, but in the darkness with some unknown crossbowman waiting, I would trust Jim's senses over mine.
Jim grasped Jeremy's corpse, slung it over his shoulder, and we took off, bending low, running fast, him ahead and me, half-blind in the gloom, slightly behind. Concrete supports flashed by, one, two, three, four. The tech hit, and before I could put down my raised foot, the magic drained from the world, leaving the battered technology in its wake. The fluorescent lamps in the ceiling blinked and snapped into life with a buzz, bathing the garage in a weak man-made glow. The black rectangle of the exit gaped ten feet before us. Jim dived into it. I lunged to the left, behind the nearest support. The salamander in the globe stopped glowing and went to sleep, looking like a harmless black lizard. My long-range weapon was tuckered out.
I set it down on the floor and slid Slayer from its sheath. Salamanders are overrated anyway.
"He's gone," Jim said from the doorway and pointed behind me.
I turned. Far at the back, the concrete wall had crumbled, revealing a narrow passageway probably leading up to the street. He was right. If the bowman wanted to take us out, he had had plenty of time to do it.
"So he sniped our mark and left?"
"Looks that way."
"I don't get it."
Jim shook his head. "Weird shit always happens around you."
"This was your gig, not mine."
A shower of sparks fell from above the door and a green EXIT sign burst into life.
Jim stared at it for a moment, his features twisted in a distinctly feline expression, disgust and fatalism rolled into one, and shook his head again.
"Dibs on the bolt in his back!" I called.
"Be my guest."
Jim's pager went off. He checked it and a familiar neutral mask slid onto his face.
"Oh no, you don't! I can't carry him by myself."
"Pack business." He headed for the exit.
I killed the urge to throw something at the empty doorway. Served me right for taking a job with a guy who served on the Pack Council. It's not that Jim was a bad friend. It's just that for shapeshifters, Pack business always took precedence. On a scale from one to ten, the Pack was eleven and everything else a one.
I stared at a very dead Jeremy lying like a sack of potatoes on the floor. Probably a hundred and fifty pounds, dead weight. There was no way I could carry him and the salamander at the same time. There was no way I could leave the salamander unattended, either. The magic could hit anytime, setting the little lizard ablaze. Plus, the sniper might still be around. I needed to get out of here, and fast.
Jeremy and the salamander, each worth four grand. I no longer did a lot of work for the Guild, and gigs of this size didn't come my way too often. Even split in a half with Jim, the bounty would cover my two mortgages for two months. The thought of leaving four grand on the floor made me physically ill.
I looked at Jeremy. I looked at the salamander. Choices, choices.
The Mercenary Guild's bounty clerk, a short, trim, dark-haired man, stared at Jeremy's head on the counter. "Where is the rest of him?"
"I had a slight logistics problem."
The clerk's face split in a wide smile. "Jim took off on you, didn't he? That will be one capture ticket then?"
"Two tickets." Jim might be an asshole, but I wouldn't screw him out of his share. He'd get his capture ticket, which entitled him to his half of the bounty.
"Kate, you're a pushover," the clerk said.
I leaned over the counter and offered him my best deranged smile. "Wanna push and see if I fall over?"
"No thanks." The clerk slapped the stack of forms on the counter. "Fill these out."
The inch-thick stack of paperwork promised to occupy me for a good hour. The Guild had pretty lax rulesbeing an organization of mercenaries, they took keen interest in profit and little elsebut death had to be reported to the cops and thus required red tape. The small significance of Jeremy's life was reduced to the price on his head and a lot of carefully framed blank spaces on a piece of paper.
I gave the top form the evil eye. "I don't have to fill out the R20."
"That's right, you work with the Order now." The clerk counted off eight pages from the top of the stack. "There you go, VIP treatment for you."
"Yippee." I swiped my stack.
"Hey, Kate, let me ask you something."
I wanted to fill out my forms, go home and take a nap. "Shoot."
He reached under the counter. The Mercenary Guild occupied an old Sheraton Hotel on the edge of Buckhead and the clerk's counter had been a lobby bar in that previous life. The clerk pulled out a dark brown bottle and set it in front of me with a shot glass.
"Why, no, I won't drink your mysterious love potion."
He guffawed. "Hennessy. The good stuff. I'll pay for the info."
"Thanks, but I don't drink." Not anymore, anyway. I still kept a bottle of Boone's Farm sangria in my cabinet for a dire emergency, but hard liquor was right out. "What's your question?"
"What's it like to work for the Order?"
"Thinking of joining?"
"No, I'm happy where I'm at. But I've got a nephew. He wants to be a knight."
Perfect. The Order liked them young. All the easier to brainwash. I pulled up a chair. "I'd take a glass of water."
He brought me water and I sipped it. "Basically the Order does the same thing we do: they clear magic hazmat. Let's say you've got a harpy in a tree after a magic wave. You're going to call the cops first."
"If you're stupid." The clerk smirked.
I shrugged. "The cops tell you that they're busy with a giant worm trying to swallow the federal courthouse, instruct you to stay away from the harpy, and tell you they'll come out when they can. The usual. So you call the Guild. Why wait, when for three hundred bucks a couple of mercs will bag the harpy with no fuss and even give your kid a pretty tail feather for his hat, right?"
"Suppose you don't have three hundred bucks. Or suppose the job is code 12, too nasty for the Guild to take it. You still have a harpy and you want her gone. So you call the Order, because you heard they don't charge that much. They ask you to come to their Chapter, where a nice knight talks to you, gets your income assessed and tells you good news: they're charging you fifty bucks because they've determined that's all you can afford. Kismet."
The clerk eyed me. "What's the catch?"
"The catch is, they give you a piece of paper to sign, your plea to the Order. And there in big letters it says that you authorize the Order to remove any threat to humanity that arises in connection with this case."
The Order of Merciful Aid had chosen its name well. They provided merciful aid, usually on the edge of the blade or by the burn of a bullet. Trouble was, sometimes you got more aid than you wanted.
"Let's say you sign the plea. The knights come out and observe the harpy. At the same time, you notice that every time you see the damn thing, your elderly senile aunt disappears. So you watch the old lady and sure enough, the magic wave hits and she turns into a harpy. You tell the knights you want to call the whole thing offyou love your aunt and she does no harm sitting in that tree anyway. The knights tell you that five percent of harpies carry a deadly disease on their claws and they've determined her to be a danger to humanity. You get angry, you yell, you call the cops, but the cops tell you it's all legal, there is nothing they can do, and besides the Order is part of the law enforcement anyway. You promise to lock your aunt up. You try a bribe. You point to your kids and explain how much they love the old lady. You cry. You beg. But nothing helps." I drained my glass. "And that's what it's like working for the Order."
The clerk poured himself a shot and tossed it down his throat. "Did that really happen?"
"Did they kill the old lady?"
"If your nephew thinks he can do that, tell him to apply to the Academy. He's at a good age for it. It's hard physically and the academic load is pretty big, but if he has the will, he'll make it."
"How do you know?"
I swiped my stack off the counter. "Back when I was a kid, my guardian enrolled me. He was a knight-diviner."
"No shit. How long did you last?"
"Two years. Did well on everything except mental conditioning. I've got authority issues." I waved at the clerk and took my paperwork to one of the tables in the gloom.
Truth was, I didn't do well. I did great. Tested right off the power-scale. Got certified as an electrum-level squire. But I hated it. The Order required absolute dedication, and I already had a cause. I wanted to kill the most powerful man in the world, and that kind of desire leaves little room for anything else. I dropped out and went to work for the Mercenary Guild. It broke Greg's heart.
Greg had been a great guardian, fanatical in his determination to protect me. For Greg, the Order was a place of safety. If my target found out I existed, he'd kill me, and neither Greg nor I had enough power to resist him. Not yet anyway. Had I joined the Order, every last knight would protect me against this threat. But it wasn't worth it, so I parted ways with the Order and never looked back.
And then Greg was murdered. To find his killer, I went to the Order and maneuvered myself into their investigation. I found the murderer and killed him. It was a grisly, nasty affair, now called the Red Point Stalker case. In the process my Academy record came to light and the Order decided they wanted me back. They weren't subtle about it, either. They made up a joba liaison between themselves and the Mercenary Guildpromised me Greg's office, his files, authority to handle minor cases, and a steady paycheck. I took it. Part of it was guilt: I had shunned Greg after dropping out of the Academy. Part of it was common sense: I had mortgages on both my father's house, near Savannah, and on Greg's place here in Atlanta. To give up either one would be like ripping a chunk out of my body. Guild gigs paid well but I had a small territory near Savannah and a big job happened there maybe once every six months. The lure of steady money proved to be too strong.
My affiliation with the Order wouldn't last. But for now, it worked. I had yet to default on either payment and once I filled out these forms, I'd ensure I could cover my bills for another month or two.
After writing my merc ID number ten times on every imaginable piece of paper, I was treated to a "check yes or no" questionnaire. Yes, I acted in self-defense. No, I didn't believe excessive force was used in subduing the suspect. Yes, I perceived the suspect as presenting imminent threat to myself and others. By the time I reached the "fill in the blank" portion my eyes needed matchsticks to stay open. In the "state the suspect's intent as perceived by you" blank, I wrote down, "Intended to burn down the city due to being a complete crackpot."
When I finally stepped out of the Mercenary Guild's heavy, reinforced steel doors, the sky was pale gray with that particular color that usually meant the sun was rising. At least I had the bolt from Jeremy's back. And I was three hundred bucks richer, thanks to my advance. The rest of the money would have to wait until the cops approved the kill. By the time I got to the intersection, I had the advance divided between various bills. I still had itif I thrust my hand in my pocket, I would feel the soft paper of four worn fifty-dollar bills and five twenties, and yet the money was already gone.
The great mystery of the Universe.
Two hours later, I stumbled into the Atlanta Chapter of the Order, bleary-eyed and armed with a huge mug of coffee, the mysterious bolt wrapped in a brown paper bag and tucked securely under my elbow. The office greeted me with its plethora of vivid color: a long hallway with gray carpet, gray walls, and gray light fixtures. Ugh.
As I stepped in, the magic hit. The electric lights went out. The bloated tubes of fey lanterns flared a gentle blue as the charged air inside them reacted with magic.
This was the third wave in the last twenty-four hours. The magic had been going crazy the last couple of days. Shifting back and forth like it couldn't make up its mind.
The faint clicking of an ancient typewriter echoed in the empty office, coming from the secretary's nook by the door of the knight-protector. "Good morning, Maxine."
"Good morning, Kate," said Maxine's voice in my head. "Rough night?"
"You could say that."
I unlocked my office door. The Atlanta Chapter of the Order made an effort to appear as inconspicuous as possible, but my office was small even by their standards. Little more than a cube, it was barely large enough to house a desk, two chairs, a row of filing cabinets, and some bookshelves. The walls showcased another radiant shade of gray paint.
I paused in the doorway, arrested in midstep. I had inherited the office from Greg. It had been almost four months since his death. I should have gotten over it by now, but sometimes, like this morning, I just . . . had a hard time making myself enter. My memory insisted that if I stepped in, Greg would be there, standing with a book in his hand, his dark eyes reproachful but never unkind. Always ready to pull me out of whatever mess I had gotten myself into. But it was a lie. Greg was dead. First my mother, then my father, then Greg. Everyone I ever cared about died violently, in a great deal of pain. If I took a moment to let it sink in, I'd be howling like a Pack wolf during a full moon.
I closed my eyes, trying to clear the memories of the office and Greg within it. Mistake. The image of Greg only got more vivid.
I did a one-eighty and walked down the hall to the armory. So I was a coward. Sue me.
Andrea sat on a bench cleaning a handgun. She was short, built with strength in mind, and had the kind of face that made people want to tell her their life stories in a checkout line. She knew the Order's Charter front to back and could rattle obscure regulations off the top of her head. Her radios never lost contact, her magic scanner never malfunctioned, and if you brought her a broken gadget, she would return it the next day fully operational and clean.
Andrea raised her blond head and gave me a little salute with her hand. I shrugged a little, feeling the reassuring weight of Slayer, my saber, in its sheath on my back and waved in reply. I could understand the metal addiction. After the little adventure that had landed me this job, I was loath to part with Slayer. A few minutes without my blade and I got edgy.
Andrea noticed me still looking at her. "You need something?"
"I need to ID a crossbow bolt."
She made a come-here motion with the fingers of her left hand. "Give."
I gave. Andrea removed the paper, took out the bolt and whistled in appreciation.
Blood-red and fletched with three black feathers, the bolt looked about two feet in length. Three inch-long black lines marked the shaft just before the fletch: nine marks in all.
"This is a carbon shaft. It can't be bent. Very durable and expensive. Looks like a 2216, designed to bring down medium-sized game, deer, some bear. . . ."
"Human." I leaned against the wall and sipped my coffee.
"Yeah." Andrea nodded. "Good power, good trajectory without any significant sacrifice in speed. It's a man-killer. Look at the headsmall, three-blade, weighs about a hundred grains. Reminds me a lot of a Wasp Boss series. Some people go for mechanical broadheads, but with a good crossbow the acceleration is so sudden, it opens the blades in flight and there goes your accuracy down the drain. If I were to pick a broadhead, I'd pick something like this." She twisted the bolt, letting the light from the window play on the blades of the head. "Hand sharpened. Where did you get this?"
I told her.
She frowned. "The fact that you didn't hear the bow go off probably means it's a recurve. A compound crossbow ‘twangs' at release. Can I fire it?" She nodded at a man-shaped paper target pinned to the far wall, which was sheathed in several layers of corkboard.
She put on gloves to keep the magic residue to a minimum, took a small crossbow off the bench, loaded, swung it up, and fired, too fast to have aimed. The bolt whistled through the air and bit into the center of the man's forehead. Bull's-eye. And here I was, unable to hit a cow at ten yards with a gun.
The feylanterns flickered and faded. On the wall, a dusty electric fixture flared with soft yellow light. The magic wave had drained and the world had shifted from magic back to tech. Andrea and I looked at each other. Nobody could predict the duration of the shifts: the magic came and went as it pleased. But the waves rarely lasted less than an hour. This one had been what, fifteen minutes?
"Is it me, or is it shifting more than usual?"
"It's not you." Andrea's face looked a bit troubled. She freed the bolt. "Want me to scan it for magic?"
"If it's not too much trouble." Magic had the annoying tendency of dissipating over time. The sooner you could scan your evidence, the better your chances of getting a power print.
"Trouble?" She leaned to me. "I've been off-line for two months. It's killing me. I have cobwebs growing on my brain." She pressed her finger below her right eye, pulling the lower eyelid down. "Look for yourself."
I laughed. Andrea worked for a Chapter out West and had run into some trouble with a pack of loups raiding the cattle farms. Loups, the insane cannibalistic shapeshifters who had lost the internal battle for their humanity, killed, raped, and raged their way from one atrocity to the next, until someone put the world out of their misery.
Unfortunately, loups were also contagious as hell. Andrea's partner knight became infected, went loup, and ended up with two dozen of Andrea's bullets in her brain. There was a limit to how much shapeshifters could heal, and Andrea was a crack shot. They relocated her to Atlanta, and although she didn't have any trace of Lycos virus in her blood and wasn't in any danger of sprouting fur and claws, Ted kept her on the back burner.
Andrea took the bolt to the magic scanner, raised the glass hood, slid the bolt onto the ceramic tray, lowered the cube, and cranked the lever. The cube descended and the m-scanner whirled.
"The tech's up," I said, feeling stupid.
She grimaced. "Oh, Christ. Probably won't get anything. Well, you never know. Sometimes you can pull some residual magic imprints even during tech."
We looked at the cube. We both knew it was futile. You would have to scan something really saturated with magic to get a good m-scan during tech. Like a body part. The m-scanner analyzed the traces of residual magic left on an object by its owner and printed them in a variety of colors: blue for human, green for shape-shifter, purple for vampire. The tone and vividness of the colors denoted the different types of magic, and reading an m-scan correctly was practically an art form. The traces of magic on a bolt, probably held very briefly, were bound to be miniscule. I knew of only one man in the city who had an m-scanner high-speed enough to register such slight residual magic during tech. His name was Saiman. Trouble was, if I went to him, it would cost me an arm and a leg.
The printer chattered. Andrea pulled the print out and turned to me. Her face had gone a shade whiter. A wide slice of silvery blue cut across the paper. Human divine. That in itself was not remarkable. Anybody who drew their power from deity or religion registered as human divine: the Pope, Shaolin monks, even Greg, a knight-diviner, had registered silver-blue. The problem was, we shouldn't have been able to get an m-scan at all with the tech up.
"What does this mean? Is the residual magic just incredibly strong on this thing?"
Andrea shook her head. "The magic waves have been really erratic lately."
We looked at each other. We both knew what rapid-fire waves meant: a flare. And I needed that like a hole in the head.
"You have a petitioner," Maxine's voice said in my head.
I grabbed my m-scan and went into my office.
Excerpted from "Magic Burns"
Copyright © 2008 Ilona Andrews.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
"Fans of urban fantasy will delight in Ilona Andrews' alternate-universe Atlanta." -FRESH FICTION
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In this second installment, Kate reluctantly agrees to do a favor for the local Pack and investigate the disappearance of some valuable maps. While hunting down the culprit, Kate gets called in on another favor. This time she winds up shackled with a teenage street urchin whose mother recently joined an amateur witch coven and went missing shortly after. Kate promises to find the girl's mother and, in the process, is caught in the crossfire between two ancient deities vying for power. So pretty much an average day for Kate and the city of Atlanta. The highlights of MAGIC BURNS are definitely the increased personal interactions between Kate and the various people and creatures who've come into her life. The growing attachment between Kate and Julie (the young girl in her care) develops quickly and the protective stance Kate takes throughout the course of the book is quite touching . Equally compelling is the more slowly developing connection between Curran, the Pack alpha, and Kate. Despite their mutual attempts to avoid each other. The reader gains several insights into these two almost painfully private people and the ending promises more good things to come. In fact, these quiet character-driven scenes were so interesting that I wished there were just a few more. The plentiful action and fighting sequences seem to always take center stage and, though we do get a little more information on Kate's background, it is a very little, and I am (of course) anxious for more. A solid second book, I'm looking forward to the third one.
In Magic Burns, the sequel to Andrews' Magic Bites, the magic in Kate Daniels' world is going crazy. More specifically, it is leading up to a flare, a period of time where the magic overtakes tech and holds steady and strong. During a flare all kinds of things can happen - including the manifestation of deities into the mortal world, bringing all their squabbles and wars with them.
I'm really liking this series, and cannot wait for the next installment! There are still a few issues in this book which I mentioned in my review of the previous book: namely, twists of storytelling which go too fast for me to follow (I could have used a turning signal, or at least a few more paragraphs) and a few editing and proofreading errors. Nonetheless, this is definitely an entertaining world which Ilona Andrews has crafted, and I enjoy reading Kate's viewpoint of her world.
I am glad that more of Kate's background is coming to light in this book. I have my guesses as to some of her secrets, and am sure that in the next book (or two or three) they will be confirmed. I am also loving the subtle, slowly growing romance between Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord.
I definitely recommend Magic Bites and Magic Burns to lovers of urban fantasy - especially dark urban fantasy, as this series is certainly not light, happy-go-lucky fare. It is real and gritty, with death and blood as much a part of Kate's world as (if not more than) love and happy endings.
Magic has returned to the world, but it comes in waves. When it flares, it is out of control when it flows it works. The world obviously has changed since the return with cities devastated as the magic hates tech and skyscrapers and either destroys them or changes them into something else.------------- In Atlanta Kate Daniels works for the Order and the Mercenary¿s Guild who helps people in need. She takes dowwn a killer in an underground garage but an unknown person does the actual kill using a special dart. A member of the shapeshifting Pack asks her to find maps stolen from them. The thief used the same dart that killed the man in the garage.. Kate returns to the scene where she got the dart. There she follows a clue to a child Julie, who is looking for her mom, a witch belonging to a nearby coven. Each vanished without a trace. Kate takes Julie home with her, but that proves no haven as sea demons attack. She next brings the child to the Order. She finally meets the dart thrower Bran who informs her that she, the witches and the shifters are caught in the middle of a war between two gods.----------------- This urban fantasy is a spellbinding compelling read. On this alternate earth, vampires, shifters and other paranormals co-exist with humans often not in harmony. Kate has a secret agenda and apparently has powers and a secret that are hinted at throughout the exciting story line. She makes the tale work as this alternate Atlanta seems genuine as a fascinating culture built around magic feels plausible. However it is Kate who will bring fans back for future tales. P Harriet Klausner
I have read and reread these books so many times. Easily one of the best authors I've read. The characters are relatable, the dialogue is full of wit, and the words paint an amazing story. You can't put these books down.
Better then book1. The kid issue dealt with nicely, she wasn't annoying or precocious. Relationship between Curran and Kate deepens and that made me happy. Learned more about Kate which is a treat.
Magic Burns is the second book in the Kate Daniels series. Kate cleans up magical problems as tech and magic fluctuate throughout Atlanta. Generally there is a reasonable period of time between shifts but every seven years a magic flare occurs, giving magic users and creatures even more strength than normal. Kate is hired by the local were-Pack to retrieve some stolen maps. While attempting to complete this task, she finds herself in the middle of an even larger problem that threatens those close to her and all of Atlanta.I loved all the same things about Kate in this book as I did in Magic Bites . She still has a the same strong attitude and temper which often gets her into trouble but she continues to demonstrate vulnerability and insecurities. She has issues trusting people but can't turn away an orphan child in need. Sometimes it takes her a bit too long to figure out the details of what is going on but I suppose the book wouldn't have such a build up to the dramatic finish if she understood her situation too quickly.Magic Burns is another fast paced story bringing in elements from Kate's past that apply to the current crisis. Kate is often so busy dealing with the immediate crisis at hand that she has little time to think through how these pieces fit into a larger, more dangerous, situation. She also enters and leaves each battle knowing that she must protect her secret. While we still don't know the entire truth of this secret, I was very happy that we did see a bit more of the things Kate can do. I love how small elements of her story are being revealed in each book. It makes me look forward to learning more in the next one!Kate's personal relationships also reveal a lot about her current situation. From taking in the child who has lost her mother to her relationship with Curran, the lion king of the shapeshifters, to her complete acceptance of her friend Andrea when her secret is revealed, each relationship shows Kate as both someone who wants to have people in her life but who also brings danger to the people around her.Clearly, I am fascinated with Kate Daniels as the central character in these stories but the stories themselves are engaging as well. The action is non-stop and the many story lines are complex. If the first two books are any indication, events from previous books may have an impact on the current one and the relationships will develop through them but the main story line will be independent enough to follow on its own. I will definitely be continuing on with the Kate Daniels series and I can't wait to read the third book, Magic Strikes.
It's been four months since Greg's death, Kate's guardian and close friend of the family and where Magic Bites started. Jim wakes Kate with a phone call to help with a job. One that bringing in the "guilty" party alive makes them some rather good money, only to have another person kill their target, yet not them. A little disappointed in the down fall of potential money, Kate goes back to do the paperwork on their catch, then heads to her office. Kate has not seen Curran in months, and given the temperament of the two together feels it's best, until a woman, engaged to a past friend of Kate's, comes to ask Kate to talk to Curran asking he grant approval of the marriage. Then Derek shows up with a petition from the pack for help finding a man who attacked a team with bolts, exactly like the one Kate has from her target being killed, and the stolen maps this man took. On Kate's searching, she comes across Red who asks Kate to watch over his girlfriend for him. Whom Kate learns, has had her mother disappear while with her coven of witches. Kate finds herself helping this young girl as well. All this and magic is on the fritz with the flares, making magic stronger and magic geared creatures more vulnerable.I liked Magic Bites, but it didn't woo me. Thanks for the wonderful words of friends out here, I picked up Magic Burns, and Wow. I loved this one. This book gripped me and kept me going. Where Magic Bites felt weaker, Magic Burns filled in some of the gaps and made the world and magic stronger for me. After reading Magic Burns, Magic Bites feels more like a prelude to introduce you to the characters for what's to come in the future. I can say, you could easily pick up and start the series here with Magic Burns. You get the little bits of insight of what happens in Magic Bites here as you go, so you are filled in with the meeting of the main characters. But me, I'm one to follow a series as it's reading order, yes another OCD thing. So, if you've read Magic Bites and lost interest, I do hope you give Magic Burns a try, it just might be better for you.I like that I got a better grip of the world in this book. I got a little meaning to the magic and tech working opposite each other, although at times they might work at the same time. Yeah, sounds strange. lol. The creatures we see here opens the world wide, even the places and magic.I LOVE the bickering between Kate and Curran, two alpha's but it's always filled with humor. They are always competing for who is the "best." I think this is one of the strongest points that brings me to this series. I still love Derek, really. He seems to have a knowing on Kate and Curran, but hasn't voiced it yet.Then we have the mystery! I like the mystery with the witches, Julie, Bowman, and Hoodguy. hee hee. Again, Kate is not the experienced detective but she mentions that and what she is doing to learn the trade. I like that Kate learns as she goes, and that she is not all knowing. This makes Kate feel more personable, as she picks up on tidbits but knows where to look to get the history on the subject, like in this book with the gods. The way this plays together with the characters I already know and now, after this book, love.
Urban fantasy at its finest. A great heroine who is a fighter but smart, mostly. Sexual tension that adds to the story rather than soft porn or explicit. I enjoy that it is not all darkness and "gritty" but delves into why some people remain the "good guys" when others succumb to greed or power hunger. Kate shows a maternal side for a young orphan in this that shows her caring vulnerable side. I enjoyed this addition and the audio version played well, although the male voices on some characters could have been better. I read another reviewer point out that at the end Curran is in Kate's apartment and had been reading her Princess Bride book. When he leaves he says "As you wish" like Wesley in the book. I had not grasped the significance of that until it was pointed out. Do you get it?
As with the first book of this series, this sequel took quite some time to reel me in and get me interested. However, once it managed to do it, I was left feeling that I may just want to try out the next one as well.In our second foray into the alternate Atlanta we find Kate fitting readily into her duties both with the guild, as she is off hunting a renegade wizardly type, and with the order in her duties as a guardian when she happens upon a 13 year old waif looking for her mother. Things get more complicated when the here and gone magic of the city starts flaring, causing great disruption with the magical denizens, including the shapeshifters and Kate.I think the thing I like best about this story is Kate's relationships with those around her, including Derek the werewolf, Bran the mysterious archer, Andrea the weapons expert, Julie the lost little girl and, of course, Curran, King of the Beasts. The problem I find is that for whatever reason I seemed to lose interest halfway through the book although I can't put my finger on exactly why. I think it just may be that I read too much urban fantasy and can't seem to stop myself.I do think this book was more enjoyable than the first. Even though there was quite a few characters, both old and new, I didn't have too hard a time keeping up with them and they all seemed interesting. Overall pretty good, even if not one of my faves.
Kate Daniels is a powerful magic-user in a world where magic has returned, intermittently. Sometimes the tech rises, so internal combusion and electricity etc. works, and sometimes waves of magic hit, so it¿s magelights and enchanted water engines. Magical creatures exist all the time, but are stronger during magic waves. Kate has only ever seen airplanes in pictures; I loved the detail that cellphones sometimes work during magic because, since most people don¿t understand how they work anyway, they¿re fueled by belief rather than tech. Kate has a deadly secret¿the source of the power in her blood¿and a freelance job solving magical problems for people. In the first book, she investigates the murder of her mentor, and ends up caught between the People (necromancers) and the shapeshifters, who are the major competing power blocs in her area of what used to be the US. In subsequent books, her troubles continue.Basically, if you liked Guilty Pleasures--even if the thought of Anita now makes you want to hurl¿I recommend these books. Kickass heroine with difficult superpowers, matched with plausibly hard-to-beat foes; palace intrigue; frustrating and hot guys. So you get stuff like this: ¿To get clear of two hundred enraged shapechangers I¿d need a case of grenades and air support. There was no reason to weigh myself down with extra weapons. Then again, maybe I should take a knife. One knife, as a backup. Okay, two.¿ Andrews occasionally trips a warning alarm on my gender politics sensors in terms of overbearing guys who think that¿s what sexy is, but it¿s been okay so far. As she¿s set it up, rogue shapeshifters¿loups¿are really into rape with their cannibalism, so sexual violence comes up regularly, though without explicit depiction.
I gave Magic Bites a four star review. I can't quite give this one a five star review but its still better than the first one. A solid 4 1/2 were such a thing possible on Amazon. I think this book beneifts from the fact that a lot of the characters and the world is established. The thing that made this story just shy of perfect for me is the fact that things happen so fast occassionally I have to back up and see what I missed. However, the confusion I had in reading the first book wasn't an issue with "Magic Burns". I liked the plot a little more here as well. A pre-teen girl's mother has gone missing and Kate becomes involved only to find out that the girl's mom is a part of a witches coven. Now the witches are missing and some baddies are searching for the girl. Enter some of my favorite characters from the first book, Dereck the teenage were and Curran, the were lion (Lord of the Beasts) and I was in for a treat. This book isn't nearly long enough, but action was packed into ever pages. In this series, there is no down town, no unimportant side plots, few moments where there isn't something hot on the page. I loved seeing Kate become so human and feeling. She protected the orphan girl like she was her own. She uses her body and her mind in her quests, but she is still realistic and sometimes makes mistakes. She chides herself from time to time when she does something not quite right and I really identified with that. I also truly enjoyed the tension between Curran and Kate. I love the speed (SLOW) that we are seeing things move between them. The last scene, the last page, is one of the most fun, and cutest things I have read in a long time. Start this series now, if you haven't already. I can't imagine an urban fantasy fan wouldn't enjoy this wholeheartedly.
Kate returns to help a young girl and falls into something much larger than she anticipated. More of her power is revealed as well as her origins. This book definately got me hooked on the characters and Kate's story. Will she one day meet Roland? And what will be the result of that meeting?
Enjoyed this even more than the first book!
Following on from Magic Bites, we continue the adventures of Kate Daniels through a magic-ravaged Atlanta.She's now working happily for the Order, but still helping out people at the Mercenary Guild, which is how this story starts: she and Jim are hunting a madman with a salamander who wants to burn the city down. Their capture is interfered with by a mystery bowman who kills the target.Kate goes back to investigate, finds Red and a young girl (13 but looking 11) in a rather unpleasant place - complete with endless hole in the ground, lots of blood, some sacrifice and the like. The mystery bowman comes back and more...The supporting strand for this story is that there is a "magic flare" coming, a situation where magic bursts fully into the world for a while, and then resets the equilibrium point for the next few years. There's much weirdness associated with this - up to and including the appearance of deities in the magic-strong time of the flare.Kate's relationship with both the People and the Pack continues - with some comic and some unexpected consequences, and there is both more about the background of the world, and more of Kate's "secret" gets revealed.There's a bit set-piece battle (which actually isn't brilliantly handled at first, but rather quickly settles into its stride and works well) at the end, and some hints for things to come.Yes, there are lots of similar books out there at the moment, this is the fantasy du jour in more ways than one, but it's an interesting world, it's different enough to keep me liking it and reading it whilst the standard remains this high. I wouldn't complain if a longer book or three came along, I wouldn't complain if Atlanta became a stronger "character" in the story (as Denver and Cincinnati are in Carrie Vaughn's and Kim Harrison's respectively) but I will be looking forward to the next book coming out in paperback.
Pretty similar to the first book; romantic interest is obvious to the user though main character seems clueless; Ms. Andrews is still playing the "cryptic comments will have you read the next book" game.If you like the urban fantasy/supernatural genre of books, then this is another entry you might want to read. If you're new to that genre or only want a small dose, look elsewhere¿my recommendation would be Kim Harrison for the closest match that's done better.
When the Pack commissions Kate to retrieve a set of stolen maps, things get complicated fast. Stolen by a wise-cracking, extremely talented archer with the ability to vanish into thin air whenever he chooses, the maps may be just a shade difficult to retrieve. Then there's the skinny, hungry, dirty street urchin whose mother has gone missing, and who's attached herself to Kate. A new type of vampiric undead is on the hunt, and all but one of Atlanta's Guardians have gone of to deal with some magical emergency elsewhere. Magic and tech are cycling irregularly, building up to a BIG flare, and those are just plain NOT good for anyone. Then, of course, there are those minor details like Pack politics -- has Pack leader Currin staked his claim?Andrews' sequel to Magic Bites is just as headlong as the series opener. A fun read with lots going on. Between the witches, Irish, Roman, and who knows what other pantheons potentially able to run amock, there should be plenty more opportunities for Kate to make her mortgage money.
It took me a little bit to re-immerse myself in Kate Daniels world, but once I did, it is a great read. The series is unique in many ways and entertaining also. There is not a lot of time spent rehashing the first novel in the series (which usually annoys me...yeah, yeah, I know, let's move on to THIS novel), but because there are so many unique elements, I could have used a little bit of explanations here and there. Overall, a good read and I look forward to the next in the series.
I really liked the development of Kate's backstory in this book.
Love this series! Kate has become yet another one of my Heroes, I even got a little teary eyed at the end, sniff. On to Magic Strikes.
The book blurb doesn't really do the book justice since it refers to maps that are in the beginning of the book and everything else isn't found out until the end. The magic is building and the once every seven years flare is coming making everyone on edge with the extra power and causing problems all over the city. Kate is asked to do a job for the Pack retrieving maps that are stolen by a mysterious bow wielding man that disappears into mist. Along the way she has to repay a favor by protecting a teenage girl who's mother, a witch, is missing. Kate and the girl, Julie, are trying to outrun undead creatures who do can do some serious damage. Kate goes on the search to find Julie's mother and along the way find out why they are being attacked and who the bowman is. It all leads to an epic battle led by Curran and the Pack to keep Atlanta from destruction.This book was exciting all the way through. There were so many questions and you are taken along the journey with Kate just as eager to find out the answers. Magic Burns does a much better job then the first one of explaining the world. The explanations of magic and tech, of the flare and how our world has been effected are easy to follow this time. Witches are big part of the plot and you get to learn how the covens are run and what sort of gods they worship. You get to see who leads all of the covens in the city and I thought that part was really imaginative. Magic Burns features some Irish mythology that I thought really brought the otherworldly characters to life. The only drawback of this book is that the pacing at times is choppy with so much going on.Kate is a lot less annoying in this book, she still has her stubborn moments but they make more sense in this book. Kate keeps up with all of the action getting her butt kicked and getting right back up to do it all over again. Her relationships with others are becoming more personal and we get to see a different side of her. Her new friendship with a Knight named Andrea and her protectiveness of Julie are touching. Derek is still around to be a trusty sidekick and stealing hearts everywhere he goes. There is a return of all the characters in book one and a couple new entertaining ones from the Pack.The larger than life Curran is back and causing even more tension with Kate. They both have to deal with their separate love lives in this book and we get a lot of insight with Kate when she has to explain why getting involved doesn't work for her. There is a slow and wonderfully tenuous build up between them that you just know is going to be good when it finally comes down to them both making a choice to be together.
I may not be in love with Curran yet, but here my heart did skip a beat.Plot:Kate Daniels needs to find some stolen maps for the pack, but a mysterious man keeps getting in her way. The flares are getting worse and soon strange creatures are after here, this time Gods wants to come out and play. Curran still annoys and this time she becomes responsible for someone else too.My thoughts:Kate can still kick some serious ass, and she is not afraid to take anyone on. I like that she is so unafraid and that she can stare down the mighty Curran. But for the most of this book I kind of wanted her to get together with Bran, he was such a hottie in my head, but then I love a good Celtic hero. But then came the quote that made me for the first time fall for Curran. I may not be a Curran lover yet, but I can see myself heading that way."Animals expresses love through food. When a cat loves you, he'll leave dead mice on your doorstep, because you are a lousy hunter and he wants to take care of you." - Aunt BAwww, Curran likes her. Ok I am starting to see why everyone adores him. Still Bran had my heart in this book.The kid Julie brought something more to the book, I got to see some motherly instincts from Kate, because she is so reckless and will get herself killed. I keep hoping someone will tell her to slow down.The magic still rocks, the dystopian world is a great invention, the things that keep showing up are interesting and I wonder what will happen next. And then there is Roland, I need to know more! I need to know about him, and for that reason alone I would keep on reading.Recommendation and final thoughts:An interesting UF series, a kick-ass heroine, and a plot that drives the book forward. I am aching to know more, and to see if Curran wins me over. Because he is on his way doing that. I would give it a 3,5 because it was good, and I would recommend this series. But I think it can get even better, and there is only one way to know that, and that is by reading book 3.
The Kate Daniels Magic Series of books by by Ilona Andrews (a husband-wife writing team) are incredible. It is a captivating series about Kate Daniels, a mercenary who helps to clean up messes caused by magic in a post-apocalyptic Atlanta. This is the second book in the series, and centers around Kate trying to locate the mother of an abandoned girl. Kate is tough as nails with a sarcastic streak, but vulnerable as well. She fights monsters with her trusty magic sword (because it always works) and tries to keep a low profile because of her heritage - if it comes out who she is, people will want to kill her. Kate is slow to trust people, but throughout the series she begins to form relationships with others, including the Beast Lord who is the leader of the Pack of shapeshifters. All characters are well written, unique and authentic, even small supporting characters.This is one of my favorite all time series; well worth reading.
Magic mercenary Kate Daniels¿ latest case is a strange one: the Shapeshifters of Atlanta have asked her to retrieve some stolen maps. Unwittingly this task leads her into a mystery involving a missing coven of witches, a young girl with special magical powers, and a war between mythological gods that is all too quickly looking like it might become reality.Is it possible that an excellent start to a classic urban fantasy series can get better? Yes, yes it¿s possible. I do believe I like MAGIC BURNS more than I liked Magic Bites. The things I liked about the series return in full force: a kick-ass main female character, snarky supporting characters. I like how we¿re still slowly finding out more about Kate¿s special blood, as well as the growing relationship between her and Curran, which never fails to get my toes curling. Reading this series is like devouring an entire cake of decadent dark chocolate, so I¿m slowly savoring each installment for as long as possible.
For some reason I didn¿t like the first one, Magic Bites, but people were raving about this so I took it out from the library - and they were right, it's much better. I love the world building, the magic, the characters. I like Kate Daniels w ho is not an Anita wannabe, but a fully fledged somebody in her own right, and I like the magic, the flares, how it affects the world. I like the pack and the beastkin. It all works for me. And I like that Curran is edging closer to Kate. I've ordered the next one and will take Book 4 with me on the plane next week - because I know it will hold my attention!