Posted on June 10, 2011 by alanajoli
Back in 2008, Tez Miller and I reviewed the first two novels in Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series. We’re now three books later in the series, and it’s still going strong. Here’s what you may have missed:
One of the staples of role playing games and adventure video games is arena combat. What’s not to like? The tradition hails way back to the Romans — or earlier — and watching gladiators in the ring is still entertaining enough to modern viewers that there are reality TV shows based on the theme. It is not something I’ve seen tackled in Urban Fantasy very often, and here, Andrews does it with aplomb. Beast Lord Curran has banned his Pack from getting involved with the games. Derrek, Kate Daniels’s teen werewolf pal, has to get involved in order to save the object of his affections — and in order to keep him out of trouble, Kate gets involved as well. Add in Saiman, the high powered magic user who has been one of Kate’s most important resources (and also one of her biggest problems, given his pervy nature) and several other shifters, all trying to keep the activity secret from Curran, and it’s clear that the proverbial fan is going to be hit with something, and it won’t be pretty. Despite Curran having every right to be furious with Kate (and furious only begins to describe it), the romance between the two amps up (though the tension continues to run high — no acting on those emotions, or lusts, just yet!).
One of Kate’s best assets up until this point has been her relationship with the Pack. But when she and the Beast Lord have a falling out (Curran stands her up on a date, and she, unknowingly, snubs him in the company of Saiman, who intentionally intended to take Curran down a few pegs), things get very hairy. Especially because the big bad that’s moving into town has a family relationship to Kate — one that she’s been trying to hide from everyone, including the people she calls her friends. Several elements in this installment pit Kate’s affection for Curran and her friends in the Pack against her job and her friends at the Order. The tension between Kate and her boss have been brewing, and when those issues are finally resolved, the series starts heading toward the confrontation that has been hinted at since the very first book.
Released on May 31, 2011, Magic Slays is a fantastic new addition to the series. Finally, secrets are out in the open — at least, among our main characters — and Kate is back as the down-on-her-luck merc that we met in the first book. Only now, she’s got the backing of the Pack, as well as her best friend sharp-shooter Andrea — so loner Kate is now surrounded by people who she cares about, and who depend on her as much as she depends on them. This is a scary new world for Kate, made more frightening by the discovery that everything she thought she knew about her foster father’s motives in keeping her safe may have been a lie — and her ward, Julie, may be in deeper trouble than Kate ever thought she’d have to face. Add to that the idea of a powerful bomb that can kill magic — which is loose in the city in the hands of terrorists — and you’ve got an urban fantasy that combines inner turmoil with a hefty dose of action movie. This is my favorite installment in the series thus far, and I highly suspect that the friendships Kate was once taught to consider a liability will turn out to be the strength that allows her to confront the powerful being who is her father — an event that will, no doubt, end the series (at least two books in the future).
If you haven’t picked up any of the Kate Daniels novels yet, go grab the first one and start reading. You’ll find a world with great rules for magic vs. tech, characters who grow and develop and change in relation to each other, and plots that mix action, mythology, and horror — with a little romance in there just for kicks.
Review by Alana Abbott