My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jake Sullivan is a war hero, a private eye — and an ex-con. He’s free because he has a magical talent that the Feds need to apprehend criminals with their own magical abilities. ... Jake finds that not only have the Feds been lying to him, but there is a secret war being waged by opposing forces of magic-users. Worse still, he had attracted the attention of one side’s ruthless leaders — who are of the opinion that Jake is far too dangerous to be permitted to live.This looked like something of a Harry Dresden copycat and I'm also rather tired of novels that insert magic into our world to create an alternate history. Then Jeff Miller gave it five stars and I had to rethink my position. My Audible monthly credit became available and I saw Bronson Pinchot narrates it ... and I was lost. No one narrates like he does.
All descriptions I've seen don't describe my favorite character, Faye, a teenage Okie whose irregular upbringing combines a good Catholic upbringing with puckish unpredictability. The Catholic element is quite light but Faye's story is equal in interest and weight to Jake's.
I was fascinated by the book's complexity, especially as compared to the first Harry Dresden or Joe Ledger novels. This one doesn't spoon feed you but gets the story rolling while providing information for you to pick up on the interesting magical attributes which some people have, how they can be used, and how this affects the struggle between good and evil. The story also examines the origins of the magic which suddenly began appearing in people in the late 1800s. This provides an unexpected story layer which I found interesting and welcome. Certainly it is a part of what made me interested in the trilogy beyond the first book.
In the midst of the action-packed finale, I suddenly saw all the pieces fit into place, just as the author intended. I was also interested to have some of the characters gain a depth I didn't expect which switched my perspective, all in aid of the puzzle pieces fitting neatly. That was nicely done by author Larry Correia.
Hard Magic is more of a guilty pleasure than anything else but it is a roller coaster ride I'm happy I took.
I'm about as smart as Jake Sullivan but, like everyone else, not nearly as clever as Faye (who is a character to fall in love with, especially as narrated here). I can see I'm going to have to read the next book in the series. Dammit. Because I didn't want another trilogy to invest my time in. But I'll be spending an Audible credit on the next book.
Note: I'd have given it another star but the long battle in the middle of the book really slowed things down and made my interest sag.