Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Posted July 13, 2017 by Mrs Giggles in 1 Oogie, Book Reviews, Genre: Fantasy & Sci-fi / 33 Comments

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Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews
Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Ace, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-27070-7
Fantasy, 2017 (Reissue)

I know, I’m supposed to have quit this series, so imagine my dismay when this book shows up at my mailbox and I realize, oops, I forgot to cancel the preorder I made ages ago. Still, I decide to flick through the pages casually, hoping to see Curran getting trampled by a herd of cows while knowing that it would never happen… holy sweet sainted behind of Baby Jesus, is that Curran getting skewered to death by Daddy Daniels on page 53? That’s so sexy. I feel as if the clouds had parted and an angel came down straight from heaven to give me Curran’s head for me to use as a footrest each time I have to sit on the toilet bowl. I have to read this book. Anyway, why not? I’ve already paid for it, sigh.

Anyway, Curran’s death is just a vision. Le sigh. You see, Kate and Lion-O-Douche are getting married, and despite having left the furry convention, all the furries apparently have to come to be with Lion-O-Douche because, you know, Curran. You want Curran. You want him inside you. The author knows this, so he will never go away. To be fair, though, he’s mostly in the background this time around, to be trotted out when Kate needs stud service or an extra muscle to do that enemy ripping thing, so he isn’t as soul-sucking a scenery chewer here as he was in some of the previous books. So that is good.

Oh yes, the wedding. All seems swell… until Daddy Daniels kidnaps Saiman and gets Kate to remember that fellow’s existence for a dozen pages in this book. In the meantime, the witches warn her that, depending on what Kate does over the next few days, she and her father will go to war and either Curran or her yet-unborn son would die. What, having to choose between Little Simba and Lion-O-Douche? No contest – send that douche to Daddy Daniels ASAP and tell him to deliver that coup de grace slowly, preferably with something blunt and rusty. Alas, Kate loves Lion-O-Douche like nobody’s business, so she’s going to do her best to make sure that she wins the war with her hubby-to-be still alive to perform on their honeymoon. To do that, she will reconnect with some old enemies and make a bargain with a god of death.

That sounds exciting, perhaps, but this story is actually devoid of thrills and suspense. Magic Binds has all the problems associated with a book late into the series, populated by a bloated cast that the author can’t bear to trim – there is no believable sense of danger, because in the end, despite threat of war, all the core characters reach the last page without any character development. Sure, some characters experience bad injuries, but they behave as if they’d just finished another ride at the carousel, and I doubt there would be life-impacting repercussions. Furthermore, this story builds itself up for this great war… only to have the whole thing over after 10 or so pages of Kate and her large entourage of overpowered mules and hangers-on taking on a bunch of anonymous, underdeveloped WTF-are-you types in a “Let’s get this over with…” manner. Who dies in such a great war? A bunch of nameless mooks. The core cast, especially those coupled-up ones, are all fine and, by the last chapter, acting as if the whole thing is just another yawner of a physical excursion that has to be done to get to the next book. Which it is, of course.

Kate occasionally goes, oh, she will die, she will fail, but come on. She goes everywhere surrounded by a posse of furries, and we all know by now that in this setting, the furries are the most powerful creatures ever, so powerful that they are the center of the universe, and everyone else is either a supporting extra or, more often than not, an extra that doesn’t even get a name.

Also, the power creep is incredible. Kate is now not even human anymore, and she not only commands the city of Atlanta but can also make slaves out of anyone she chooses. The author wants to create some inner conflict on Kate’s part about how her powers could turn her into her father despite her best intentions, but the author has made Kate and her furry groupies so powerful that I don’t believe for a second anymore that these people will ever falter or fail in anything. In fact, several core characters get some pretty bad injuries here, raising my moods considerably considering that I hate most of these boring cardboard cutouts, but no, just turn the page and they seem fine, even quipping “funny” Whedon-tier one-liners.

And seriously, we don’t need so many people, and some of the cast, especially the females like Dali and Andrea, just show up to be either damsel’ed-up or injured to get the men all worked up in what I suppose is a show of “passionate possessiveness” or something – baggage, in other words. This is sad considering how Dali and Andrea were strong heroines when they got to star in their own stories – alas, once they get the peen, their roles are reduced to wife and pregnant wife. In one very jarring scene, Kate is berated by a male character for daring to put Andrea in danger, with her eventually apologizing to the man. How many books will it be before these male furries start mandating the womenfolk to stay inside the house and never leave without a man’s permission?

Anyway, the magic is gone from the series, what with the core characters now being undefeatable and even unkillable despite sustaining horrific injuries and wounds, and this story just meanders, making me wonder whether this series is on life support, being prolonged merely because it makes bread for the author and the publisher. The mythology is now boring as it’s mostly furry worship 24/7 with the occasional brief scenes of “Hey! A dragon! Some woo-woo!” that are over before making much impact. Heaven knows, we don’t want anything to overshadow the furry worship!

Oh, and let me leave you guys with a dramatic scene, one of the many of similar tone and style that pepper this story. The bold sentences are supposed to represent POWERFUL AWESOME BOOMING. Yes, that’s how they appear in the book – all in bold, often in caps if Daddy Daniels is doing the booming.


Aha. “So is mine. You took my child’s caretaker and you forced her to betray everything she stood for. Julie watched her die. I hate you.”


I wish I’m kidding. These two are supposed to be the most powerful people around, whose abilities and strengths rival even the ancient gods, and they are… doing this.


“Nor will I! I am a princess of Shinar, granddaughter of Semiramis, niece of the City Eater, daughter of the Builder of Towers. My line is longer than yours by one!”

And I am She-Ra, Princess of Power, and the both of them can go GET FUCKED.

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33 responses to “Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

  1. Alexandria

    Sounds as if Kate has become unbearable. In some ways, the yrajectory of this series reminds me of Anita Blake, who started off her series as a necromancer, and she was intersting, competent at it, provided a useful service, and conflicted about it. There were also interesting characters who had some depth and actual deoth and lauers (Edward ? Not sure about his name) Anyway, that lasted a couple of books, never to be heard from again. I have heard that husband #1 was responsible for a lot of the plotting and so on for AB before he and LKH got divorced, so that may be the reason.

    Then there’s Kate, who is some sort of holy warrior (or something) going around and cleansing evil, she’s good at it, provides a useful service and is conflicted about it. I really liked the world building in the first couple of books, with it’s fluctuating magic and tech levels, and how that impacted the social order. And Kate was a really interesting heroine who could have gone on her own Hero’s Journey of self discovery, but no. She meets effin Curran and any nuance or real development is canned so she can ride the lion.

    I think the same thing has afflicted both Anita and Kate, they havent really developed so much as both becoming Suoerman, who is boring because he is never really in any danger. There’s no sense of urgency or impending doom, because he never fails, and, in fact, can’t fail. And neither can Anita or Kate. I don’t know, I think the introduction of a love interst like Curran (also actually another Superman who can never fail) really spelled out the death of anything intriguing about the series. (Completely leaving aside his disgusting personality.) It’s bad enough to have one Superman, but now the series has two, and just ugh. Give me flawed protagonists who have to overcome their own flaws and weaknesses any day, rather than this pap. And I dont’t mean the over-riding “Ooooohh I love you TOO MUCH Curran! I am going to make lots of dumb decisions and seemingly not learn much from the last time something similar happened!” “You must let me ‘protect’ you, Kate, and run your life, and make all the decisions– otherwise my fragile ego can’t deal with your feminine competence!” For umpteen books’ worth of that. CRAP.

    (Sorry to hear about you forgeeting to cancel your pre-order, it’s super annoying when that happens!)

  2. amousie

    Oh… I had to delete everything I wrote in my rant. I read this from the library right before the last Innkeeper book and I was pissed.

    I will skim the last book in the series once it gets to the library. I MIGHT read Hugh’s book. I will not follow the next generation in this world. Which really tells you have far this series has fallen for me because I used to love this world to pieces.

    Unfortunately I’m seeing aspects of this in the InnKeepers series. Dina should’ve kicked Sean to the curb with his ultimatum.That said, Curran need to be kicked at least 1,000 times harder.

    The last book in the Kate series that I remember really really like was book 3 with the Midnight Games. Oh, and the whole Aunt committed suicide by Kate is absolutely ridiculous way to cover up an authorial mistake early in the series. Notice that the powerful female characters get killed. The ones who I can’t tell apart from each other remain. Do any powerful male characters die? Probably not because they are the characters who get to have all the fun and the adventures.

  3. Alexandria, so far Kate hasn’t begun collecting a harem yet, thank goodness, although I did get Anita Blake-ish PTSD while reading this book. Kate is just too powerful, and yet, she spends the bulk of the time in a SCREAMING IN BOLD match with her father, yelling childish taunts at one another in what seems like a painful way to prolong the series. Not to get too much into spoilers, Curran rescues Saiman offscreen here, because, as you’ve said, Superman.

    amousie, there’s a Hugh book coming out? Ugh, I may have to get that one, because I like that guy, but I’m also worried that it would be like that the recent books, full of awesome action hero worship, banal Buffy-speak, and slow, meandering plot. And yeah, no dead powerful males. Have to keep the readers happy, you know. You have no idea how ticked off I am when the two characters that should have been dead in this one after sustaining those injuries end up okay and joking like a Whedon-esque character again in a matter of pages.

  4. amousie

    Hugh kinky. Hugh’s book if it happens will be an “adult” book. I’ll read whatever excerpts are available first. If his “adult” “partner” can stand up to him, I’ll bite even though I suspect it will be a tame book. I’m even okay with tame if they give Hugh a worthy partner to play with.

    Yes, the Harry Potter plot twist to prolong the series was epic, wasn’t it? No one saw that coming. And hey, witches, Family Blog you for your wedding gift at the end.

    Oh, yes, Mrs. G, I do understand how ticked off you are. Trust me, I do. I loved the world and its possibilities so much. And I too long for the days of Andrea and Dali before they were sidelined. They rocked in the Midnight Games and had distinct, wonderful roles to play rather than Kate wanna-be clones. Now I’m sad.

  5. amousie

    Mrs G., Follow up question. what’s worse about this series: the godlike powers or that the fact that Kate has become an idiot female sidekick to her own story. Okay, perhaps harsh but we were told and for a while shown that she was a mercenary and an investigator.

    Would a mercenary not know anything about the guy she’s living with finances? About how much land he purchased? About who exactly lives in the houses next to hers? Would she allow herself to have no money? No escape route? Would she do all of that free work for the pack as consort when she never had gender training that women are supposed to self-sacrifice? He takes over the Order because of her connections AND he rebuilds it but she can’t even pay herself a salary, rent, or supplies for her own business. Yep, very merc like.

    She’s a kept woman. I could even live with that if there was some master plan that didn’t make her look weak publicly but in this world, which is very much based on wealth like our own, nope. weak weak weak female. Threaten a child and she gets stupid.Really, how in the world did she survive the games at 11? How did she survive once her original guardian committed suicide by Hugh (yeah, that was stupid too)? All these mercenaries taking themselves off the board by suicide.

    If she really wanted and lived to kill Roland all these years, would she really be such a freaking naif when it comes to him? Would she really allow herself to become well kind of a captive of the Beast Lord and his passionate possessiveness? And she goes from zero to 90 in what a few years? months? because what she’s in love and wants to protect his pack? Sounds like her backstory made her pretty damn complacent. And given how easily her Daddio is defeated in battle, he should’ve been taken down long ago.

    And so…

    So in my mind, despite the very public godlike powers (annoying, annoying, annoying) she’s not a merc, not really even an investigator because she notices nothing beneath her nose. And I don’t believe for a moment that she does anything in secret like buy her Daddio’s blood to practice with (and seriously at this late date in the game how would that even be possible unless Roland wanted her to have it) because she has no money, no contacts which don’t go to Curran first, he has her every waking moment tracked. If she’s doing anything, it’s because he allows it.

    The same handicap were put on Andrea and Dali. Aunt B escapes because she died sacrificing herself for the pack. (Is that 3 now who have committed suicide in service of Kate’s story?)

    Dina shows aspects of this with Sean. Although Sean is much more wobbly and likeable than Curran. Nevertheless, it’s most definitely there. It will be interesting to see how Dina changes now that Sean is moving in. And will the sister become more Kate like if she falls in love with her vampire knight?

    Thank you for the rant space. Sorry, the more I thought about it again, the more it bothered me.

  6. What’s worse: the stupidity. Godlike powers can be fun if it belongs to a smart hero or villain. Like you’ve described vividly, Kate now has an IQ downgrade straight down the toilet, so whatever power she has doesn’t matter. She’s still a gerbil-brained turd. And thanks to the author, she has no agency as well. She is entirely dependent in every way to Lion-O-Douche, who happily continues to isolate her from her old friends to reinforce this unhealthy dependency. I think this is worse than whatever power she may have.

    Power creeps are an issue, though, as they should be reserved only for characters who are ready to bow out of the series to become legends or mentor figures. The author should have spaced Kate’s powers more gradually instead of going from the kickass but still vulnerable mercenary from books one to three to OMG GODDEXX DAUGHTER OF EVIL SHAO KHAN AND GRANDDAUGHTER OF SHANG TSUNG ET CETERA WTF-EVER.

    I don’t know what happened. The action scenes are now lacking in kickass factor and gore like the older books. We hardly see anything in the lore anymore, just furry power one after another. And the women have turned into typical romantic urban fantasy heroines now, reduced to being Somebody’s Girlfriend or Mate – AND LOVING IT. Either the editor has some serious blackmail material to force the authors to go this route, the half of the author duo who does the more traditional urban fantasy has taken a backseat to let the other half turn the series into something Lora Leigh would do, or maybe they are all in it, because such stories sell more? Whatever the reason is, it’s depressing.

    And please don’t keep reminding me about my fears about Dina and Sean. I never liked Sean. I know, like Curran, he will never go away too because the fans that keep in close touch with the authors keep telling them how much they wish that Sean will take over the series, like Curran did, to become a more traditional alpha hero because these readers only care about the characters that have penises in such series. Sometimes, when I am petty, I wonder why these fans won’t just go away and leave the series alone. They have Laurell K Hamilton, Christine Feehan, Lara Adrian, and gang. Why can’t they leave Ilona Andrews alone?

    Oh, and are you as annoyed as I am that other characters, like Roman, are slowly turning into platonic members of Kate’s harem? She may not want slaves, but she is collecting doting fan club members who will never question her. Unlike Anita Blake, though, Kate here isn’t the leader of the harem as, ultimately, Curran pulls all her strings now.

  7. Alexandria

    Dina shows aspects of this with Sean. Although Sean is much more wobbly and likeable than Curran. Nevertheless, it’s most definitely there. It will be interesting to see how Dina changes now that Sean is moving in. And will the sister become more Kate like if she falls in love with her vampire knight?

    You know, I thought about this after reading your earlier comment, and I think this doesn’t bother me as much as Kate, because Dina and Sean were supposed to be more or less equal partners. She wasn’t at her inn when he got so protective, and she acted like an idiot, and I think in this particular case he was 100% in the right. He’s a freaking gentically enganced super warrior, and she’s a squishy mage. Any DnD player knows the mage stands in the back and pelts the enemies from behind the tank 🙂 But seriously, she was being super dumb (actually I disliked that more than the scene) and he was right to say if she couldn’t let him do his thing then he was going to move on. I thought that was actually pretty realustic. It can be very difficult to watch someone you love make terribe, self destructive decisions. So basically, although I am not Mrs G, I think Sean is pretty respectful and much better balanced than Curran and Kate, he hasnt taken Dina’s agency from her at all, just let her know where his hard boundaries were.

  8. Alexandria, we’re just in book three. Plenty of time for things to go downhill. Yes, I’m a jaded urban fantasy reader.

    I wish the author won’t do that though. The Innkeeper is a unique premise, and the heroine is a unique kind too, so please, don’t turn it into another standard furry worship please.

    But, given how that other series, Midnight Legacy turn into Curran on Steroids worship porn straight out the gate, I… am really wishing very hard for the best.

  9. amousie


    What Mrs. G said so concisely.

    And now I’m going to apologize again because this will be another rant. I won’t feel insulted at all if you or Mrs. G. skip it.

    I strongly strongly object. Harry Dresden does not stand in the background during his battles. Yes, he also has very stupid moments too. If you’re the protag of the story and a first person narrator, most likely you will be front and center during the action if your genre is Urban Fantasy. Hiding behind a love interest is weak plotting when the only real purpose storywise is shout from the rooftops the love interest’s passionate possessiveness and how the female NEEDS protection from even herself.

    If anyone is self-destructive it is Sean. By rights he should be a stark raving mad lunatic given what he’s recent suicide mission. He should also be very much dead just like all the others who donned the armor before him. It was inevitable even with his super-genetics. If not for Dina in book 2, he would died. I don’t know why anyone would want to follow him right now. By rights he should be like Christopher the first time Kate encountered him.

    I see many of Dina’s decisions in this book as in-organic ones the authors made to allow Sean to revel in his passionate protectiveness and eventually take center stage.

    Off-world scene where Dina fights off the corrupted InnKeeper. Sean’s an idiot. He would’ve died. Plus if he were really as good as he thinks he is and the authors claim he is (doesn’t make it so), then A) he wouldn’t have been so unprepared. B) they would’ve gone in with a real plan using all of Dina’s & her Scobby gang’s contacts instead of all that off-the-cuff, let’s wing it together crap. But I do agree that Dina on death’s door and sending her protection away is idiotic. I don’t feel this is organic so much as it is the authors’ plan for Sean to put her in her place later. That’s my take because I see the authors’ hands all over the storyboard.

    So her sister’s complaint about the off-world skirmish and Dina putting her niece in more danger. It’s valid but only to a point that Dina should’ve been taken aside by her sister earlier, nNot because Sean gave her an ultimatum and the authors needed a strong female character to reinforce how wrong Dina was.

    Second aside: Please give me an example of a male protag who would ever get put back in their place in this manner for the benefit of a female love interest.

    Ask yourself this: Why do we even need Sean as more than a sidekick in this story? The sister has serious warrior and diplomatic experience as well as innkeeper experience. If we are talking leadership and trust, Dina should’ve been running the show with her sister, and letting Sean & Armand providing the muscle support to back them up. Book 2 had multiple reference to how hard Sean would have to work to overcome his war scars. And that a relationship with Dina was only a maybe. He’s done nothing on either front and yet somehow he’s front and center in Book 3.

    The sister may also be damaged, but I’d trust my sister before I’d trust a man who’s gone through Sean’s recent experiences. Also, given the sister’s personality and strength, why in the world is she keeping herself in the background unless the authors want her there? If she wasn’t then how would Sean be able to give his ultimatum?

    Stupidity: to me that’s the seedling and the self-sacrifice in order for the plot to allow the corruption to infect the Inn. It was a weak plot twist. But it did reinforce the authors’ point that Dina makes childish decisions. Loss of consciousness and now coma.

    Who died and decided that Sean is allowed to give weapon and intel to humans without consulting anyone with more knowledge of the rules of this universe? Very much in the high-handed mold of daddy knows best Curran.

    Sean in general: Yeah, he survived in the zone longer than anyone else but what does that have to do with knowing lead, organize or minimize battle loss when he’s responsible for other people’s lives. People who don’t have super-genetics or “special” armor. And didn’t Sean give back his special armor? If so, he no longer has his special immunity. Of course, even if he did, his PTSD might get triggered and he could become suicidal all over again. I know not part of the fantasy of this story. But it’s huge deal when the authors hobble the female protag in order to spotlight her love interest.

  10. amousie

    Final PS. Sean signed up for a war. One super-genetically engineered solider, who had no idea what he was capable of OR what the outside universe was like, with special armor in an extremely hostile environment against two extremely well-trained armies. He had no part in the war. Absolutely no reason to fight initially. Probability was extremely high that he would die in short order.

    If that’s not a stupid character who needs protection from himself I don’t know what is. Instead he’s touted as a hero who should be followed. No gender politics there.

    I’d rather follow Dina as long as she dumps Sean and doesn’t find a stupider love interest. I’d follow early Kate. I’d run away and hide from the current Kate.

  11. amousie, I agree with you about Sean’s exaggerated role in the book. In fact, if a man has to be important, it’d be Arland as he has the connections and the experience of dealing with various folks via both diplomacy and military. Sean just realized, ooh, he’s the most awesome werewolf in the universe, but he doesn’t have the experience or the expertise to be in charge. He is only important because Ilona Andrews’s more vocal fans want furry peen to be a significant aspect of the series, so Sean gets to be more important than he otherwise would – should – be.

    Now that I think of it, why is Curran a respected Beast Lord again? He just growls and charges at things. Not much sign of intelligent life behind those Lion-O eyes. Same with Mad Rogan. Growl, blow up things, and yet somehow manages to be a bazillionaire commandeering a legion of bewilderingly loyal minions.

    Seriously, the authors need to come up with a new kind of love interest.

    PS: Feel free to rant all you like. It’s fun reading these things!

  12. amousie

    I too love your rants. We’re not always on the same page. But I enjoy the hell of them and you pull me into new directions.


    Curran is in charge because he’s one of the only pure-breed descendants of the old furries. Yeah, I’ve always despised the accident of birth bit. I know Curran “earns” his rank as a teenager with minimal experience, thereby his backstory proves his genetic worthiness even if we never get to see it. (Not that different than many other “heroes.”). Why? Because writing political scenes requiring surgical skill is extremely difficult. Hammer scenes with warriors much much easier to write. Do them well with stakes? Yeah, I don’t care about Kate’s action scenes anymore either.

    Harem: Notice that even the annoying male characters of Kate’s harem are memorable. I seriously struggle to remember who the female characters are or what their motivations are. Yes, I remember Dali and Andrea but those are early book characters before the world shifted (ha ha I amuse myself). What have they done for me lately?.

    I, for one, despise the male harem. It’s so damned blatant. Unfortunately these authors are not alone in this tendency. Mercy Thompson is a pretty perfect example of another well-written series where the male harem dominates even though there are female characters. (Don’t get me started on the werewolf hierarchy and mythos in that series. Even though the author is “correcting” it, it doesn’t make sense and pisses me off because it’s that special female crap and restrictions UF & PR like to play around with.)

    Now speaking of passionate possessiveness, notice how stupid our calm cool and collected Jim got when Dali was hurt. Just hurt but not killed or any permanent damage. Hey, I’ve got a great plot idea, let’s have a male harem character start a war that the Pack might lose and reset the board. No, No, let’s just shuffle the board and have Jim suffer no real consequences for his leadership stupidity. And let’s also prove how stupid the Pack is because they do absolutely nothing to stop him.

    Yes, Jim, you don’t deserve to lead either. Then again the Pack probably deserves you. And tell me again, why Jim gets to lead? Curran abdicates his throne and gets to pick his successor?!?! That’s not really how politics works. That’s not even how the pack works if the attempts on Kate’s life while Curran was in a coma are to be taken seriously.

    And sorry, it’s unlikely that Curran would be able to take that kind of wealth from the Pack. Yeah, it’s supposed to be “his” somehow. When Edward abdicated, he did not get to take it all with him. Curran would get an estate far far away from Atlanta and an allowance and whatever his family had prior (nothing because he was an orphan descendent). He’d be seriously shunned (none of this half-assed crap the authors dished out) and Pack members going with him would the super-humans Khan took with him to that new planet. You know the one where Khan’s human wife died and swore revenge on Kirk. An aside: I loved the original. Montaban outstanding. The latest: the sad thing is Cumberbitch was the best thing about that movie. 2nd aside: Notice that Cumberbitch plays the same character again and again and again. Yeah, I liked him earlier on but he annoys me now even if I like his interviews on the Graham Norton show now and again.

    Rowan: I understand the plot point the authors decided to go with. But my gosh, there were so many other ways to go including the witches. I am so with you on this one. Just goes to show that your point about having a peen is a valid one. (And repeated again by these authors and others including freaking TV and movie series. It’s a thing.) Rowan gets an active story role. The witches by comparison are given passive roles.

    Love interests: Sometimes I feel like authors are trying to reach my 13-year old hormone laden self and the whole ‘OMG, he would die for me’ reaction. I admit that there are some authors who can strike that nail on the head; albeit inconsistently. When it works, it is damned powerful.

    My response to that is I don’t want a romance hero who is willing to die for the heroine (because Kate’s kind of losing the protag label for me as the stories seem to be in service of the adventures her harem gets to have. She hasn’t lost the label yet but it’s a close thing.)

    Anyway, I want a love interest who is willing to live and plans to do his damnest to be there in the aftermath. No starting wars just to prove your passionate possessiveness. No running half cocked into battle with Kate’s aunt despite knowing she can make you go crazy in a nanosecond. That’s just not romantic… well to me it’s not. That’s going out in a blaze public glory and reputation. Or something. If you survive, you get to listen to people tell stories of your heroism. That’s ego, not love. (13-year old doesn’t care and doesn’t have enough life experience to be able to tell the difference while driven by her hormones. I joke but I know what I just said is overly simplistic and snarky.)

    Here’s to your wish: authors please stop taking female agency away in service of striking that reaction to the love interest’s story role.

    Do you think authors in general realize what they’ve done in terms of agency for female protag with a love interest? i.e., are they purposefully hobbling the character and if so, what purpose does it serve? or are they just trying to have create scenes which strike certain cords with a vocal sub-section of readers. or…

  13. amousie

    BTW: Edward abdicating for Wallis Simpson.

    As far as Kate is concerned, do you think writing the Edge series and the Andrea paranormal romance “infected” Kate’s stories? I remember that Kate really went off the rails for me with the Europe story and not because of Aunt B’s death. It really was Curran treating Kate like a child in need of protection rather than an equal partner. Well, it was more than that and since I can’t be bothered to look up which title and story was in what order, I might even be wrong about the off the rails bit.

  14. I like the Edge series – while it starts out as a conscious effort to be a romantic series, things soon got along nicely. I think it helps that each book focuses on a different couple, so there is little opportunity for peen-comes-first gender politics to set in and disrupt things. Even then, I noticed that there was a tendency to have active female characters in one book to show up in the next book as a passive follower, with their hubbies now in charge. So yes, the jury is still out as to whether the authors genuinely want to include such gender roles, or they do it because it’s what sells. But the gender roles are there, at the end of day. It’s just that the Edge books keep shifting focus to different couples that the effect is still palatable.

    For me, Kate’s story goes off the rails the moment she and Curran consummated their attraction. That’s when he began taking over the whole thing and, as you say, rob all agency from Kate. I wanted to cry when she went from mercenary and whatever to Beast Lord’s Consort. She went from being defined by her job to being defined by whom she is sleeping with.

    Have you wondered whether we’d be so disappointed if Kate had been Keith Daniels and the series take on the usual romantic urban fantasy route? Keith, by being a male protagonist, would still have agency and I doubt Katie Lennart would be allowed to steal the limelight. In fact, because she has ovaries, Katie wouldn’t be a Beast Queen – she’d be, perhaps, a princess and Keith would be the honorary Beast Lord or something.

    Here is what I would like to see happen to make the series fun again. Won’t happen, but it’s nice to dream:

    1. The damage is done, but we can stick Kate and Lion-O-Douche into the proverbial locker in the basement. Give them minor roles or cameo appearances. Right now, they are too powerful to be lead characters.
    2. Shift the series from focusing on one couple to different protagonists in each book. And I don’t mean the furries only. Have Saiman, Roman, DeSandra, etc do their own thing in future books to further the arc. And for the love of god, we don’t need everyone to be a couple in the end. The series is supposed to be urban fantasy first, not romance. Keep the most annoying gender roles and other romance conventions out of the series as much as possible!
    3. Also, focus on different aspects of the setting and lore as much as possible in future books. I am tired of the current furry mafia, what with its bloated cast of interchangeable members of the Lennart entourage and how everyone in the inner circle is just so awesome and unkillable. I want to see more witches, druids, Rabbis that summon sand golems, and perhaps the author’s fantastical take on other cultures.
    4. I really like your idea of a complete wipe-out of the furry mafia. As things currently go, the furries are an overpowered bunch of brutes who behave with little accountability for their misbehavior and who do not play well with other factions. Plus they control a huge chunk of the real estate. Why aren’t there any factions gunning for these furries again? They are a huge potential threat for the other spooks. Only the bad humans seem to be out for these furries, when they should be feared by other factions.
    5. Make Daddy Daniels a real threat instead of the cartoon villain he is now, shouting threats at Kate like Yosemite Sam getting all mad at Bugs Bunny. His current state is embarrassing, at self parody levels.
  15. amousie

    Edge: Here I suspect I meant more along the lines of grabbing romance readers, playing into gender expectations with the romance label and said readers. And how those fans and their expectations can infect an author’s brain if they are online. Plus success breeds doing more of the same even with different stories.

    Book 4 was the City Eater / Aunt book. Kate is still with the Order and maintaining at least a thimble of independence. That’s 2010. First Edge book is 2009. Book 5 you liked, even gave a nod to them as a couple. I can only remember vague pieces of that story. If I started reading it, I’m sure it would come back to me. GunMetal Magic which to me was pure romance because it’s only intent was pairing up a couple. I felt this one was Kate’s narrator voice inside Andrea’s body. Magic Rises (europe) was 2013. That was my line in the sand book for Lion-O needs to be kicked to the curb. He never redeemed himself from that moment forward.

    As an aside: I also don’t understand why Kate would ever want to be or agree to be consort or for that matter married given her upbringing and then her experience with the Pack.Desperately wanting to belong only goes so far when one is asked to conform to gender roles which one has never been subjected to. And these “beasts” are really part beast so why do they conform and promote to “human” mores instead of animal ones? When you think back to Pack “court” and Kate’s consort role, it really reminds you that this is humans dressing up as shapeshifters. I’d almost call it part of a “belonging” family fantasy. In many ways the Pack are the most conforming part of the lore.

    1. Agreed. Let’s get the last book over with. Twenty bucks says that Lion-O gets to have active cameos and Kate will have a passive role. Yes, I’m a cynic.
    2. I’m not sure that would work for me. This world has been tainted. There are currently no memorable female characters with real agency. And I really liked these female characters because they were distinct. The later ones remind me too much of wanna-be Kates and I lose them.

    I don’t want to follow Dererk and Julie. I suspect they will be the popular new-adult UF spin-off series after Kate / Lion-O defeat Daddio. Hugh’s book might change my mind. But then we’re right back to Keith Daniels, aren’t we?

    I don’t know that the authors can or would even be willing to reverse trend given the number of books they have and their success. Given how you say Legacy is like Glory to Lion-O in the fullest, Kate’s a lost cause** and the possibility of Dina losing her agency, I think all the female characters will have little to no female agency once they start hooking up regardless of the world they inhabit.

    **if the strongest of them with the most non-conforming gender roles backstory is a lost cause then what hope for the rest of the females. After a while you just have to accept that it’s a purposeful decision by the authors. Which means Keith and his peen all the way baby! (yes, I’m bitter)

    3. All the lore. I was thinking about what you said yesterday. Man, you’re right. Kate & Dina’s worlds are outstanding, fresh and fun. Some of the twists might not be new but I really like the diversity and scope of their worlds. There were even pieces in this latest book but they were overshadowed by the overall badness of the plot. And the stuff you list out… yes, I so wanted more of this wonderful worldbuilding lusciousness.

    4. Yep, no objections from the outside world. That political field laid out in the first say 4 books, maybe 5, has been wiped out. Not even Ghasek whose group “worships” Kate because she’s claimed the city and they had to choose sides against Daddio, brings any objections to Kate about the Pack extending it’s territory. Yep, Curran is still most definitely Pack to outsiders.

    Clueless Kate let down by her own “People” in the war against Daddio. If they can’t be trusted to talk her about her boyfriend’s moves within the City then seriously what good are they in the war against Daddy. Oh, that right, Kate only really needs love and the Thunder Cats clan.

    5. I unfortunately think that ship has sailed. He’s been pretty lame ever since he made his appearance on the page. Re-doing him would require precision writing of the political nature. I think we’re down to spectacular battle scenes with no real stakes. I’m also not sure the authors know how to write “evil” with real shades of gray, not black and white cartoon parody stuff.

    After all, Lion-O is all good now when you know many “beings” probably have good cause to think him evil, wicked and the eater of babies. If one is a leader for decades, one has many enemies. Kate glasses don’t allow her to anything anymore but the roses.

  16. amousie, I hesitate to recommend this as it has all the hallmarks of slut-shaming, etc that taint many YA and NA series, but Sarah J Maas’s Court series is a subversion of the Lion-O Is Best trope. Folks, don’t read on if you want to be spoiled, but the heroine initially fell in love with a magical hunk who tries to remove all her agency. But the second book rolls in, she desperately breaks away from him, falls in love with a much nicer guy who actually appreciates her agency. Mind you, the series suffers from peen-worship too – every guy, including the control freak monster, is “redeemed” by book three for future sequel opportunities. The female characters? Don’t hold your breath.

    Still, it’s interesting that there is at least one series that breaks the control freak is best formula.

  17. amousie

    On the library list. I’ll give them a try and see what fun there is to have.

    Thank you for reminding me of why I loved Kate Daniel in the first place. I whine but there was and still is some seriously great stuff here. If there wasn’t, there’d be no point in saying anything.

    A Patreon aside: Was just switching back my patreon donation now that I have more money in my paypal account. Noticed that Patreon is now adding the credit card processing fee to the donation. (not a bad thing). Looks like it’s 6.5% plus 0.25 per transaction. Are they then taking another 5% on top of that for themselves or are they including their fee in that card processing fee? Do they also add a conversion fee out of US dollars?

    Anyway, is this the best way to donate as I’d prefer you to receive the maximum benefit?

  18. amousie, I am not going to keep reading the Kate Daniels series, but if you do, you have an open invitation to review those books here, No, I’m serious, I think you’d have some good things to say about those books.

    Patreon does take a chunk from my end, and so does my bank when I transfer the funds to my account. It’s okay though. Nothing too major. One reason I didn’t promote it much is because there are enough generous people like you who contributed enough to help me cover the monthly webhosting fees and I don’t feel comfortable asking for more. So I think yes, Patreon will do nicely. Again, thanks so much for your support!

  19. amousie

    Mrs. G, I will read the final Kate book (you can’t leave me alone, you know others will simply love it!) and maybe the Hugh book I doubt I’ll follow further into the world.

    I don’t review. I occasionally have things to say but it’s spoiler ridden so more like book report or back & forth conversation. The Andrews sounds like they are having good success with their Legacy series so it might be a while for Kate’s final book. So let’s maybe talk once it comes out and see if there’s anything even worth saying.

    Okay, patreon it is. If they ever start taking too much make sure you let us know. Right now I have some extra. If things change, I may pop in and out but it will be due to my finances not the content of your site.

    Don’t feel guilty. Promote it. If nothing else, stick the extra in a fund so that when the time comes and you want to retire from reviewing in the online world, you can have your site maintained or moved /converted to another platform by a professional service. (Future thinking) I’d hate for readers to lose your resource.

    Or think of it as an extra thank you for maintaining an online presence for what the last 20 years. The only ones still around with a comparable number of reviews would be All About Romance and RT Book Reviews (okay the mag has a lot more but not better reviews).

  20. When is the last book anyway? I last heard it was supposed to this or the next book, but now it seems like the author will just continue until that horse is completely flogged to death. At the rate things are going, it will soon be hard to tell apart all three series aside from cosmetic traits like setting appearances.

  21. amousie

    Just checked authors’ website: May 2018

    I won’t purchase the book, it will be a borrowed library book. If you do read it with me, let me know and I’ll kick in extra to defer your costs. HOWEVER, if this isn’t Kate’s very last book, then I’ll drop out. Unless I hear that Conan perishes or something and Kate goes to the dark side.

    No updates on InnKeeper. I will buy that one but I’ll be closely watching how much story space Sean sucks up.

  22. That will be in hardcover, so it may be 2019 before the mass market comes out. Word will be out then whether it’d be the last book. I have a feeling it won’t be.

  23. amousie

    Yeah, we’ll probably both forget about it by then. No worries. If it happens, it happens.

  24. amousie

    Just read the back cover copy. Mrs. G, nothing about it reads like this the final Kate and Curran book so you are absolutely off the hook to share the pain with me. The “solution” to the Roland problem based on the copy would seem to be what I suspected from 2, maybe 3, books ago. Cheers!

  25. amousie

    PS. I did write you longer at P last week, and you’ve locked down so Feyre’s book again so here’s my summary.

    Rhys should’ve been dumped as well as Tam. Manipulative uninteresting bastard compared to the first from my POV. His reveal although sweet just ruined everything and confirmed how stupid these people are despite being told over and over again how they Marty-Stu and MarySue they are.

    You and I will have to disagree about Girl Power. My POV, serious serious gender issues in the world-building. There are a few nuggets in character but lack of real agency is too huge of an issue for me.

    Loved the possibility of Mor. Too bad we never really saw her in action, only talked about.

    Feyre is completely an unreliable narrator. Like I said elsewhere, I had to read the book as if it were Feyre’s memoir because of the inconsistencies of her observations and also because that first 300 pages or so reads as if it’s her eyewitness account filtered through the stories others tell about her now vs. what she tells herself is truth vs. what she’s willing to reveal.

    I despised the book as a reader. I struggled to read it because I could only tolerate Feyre in small doses although the 2nd 300 pages were a touch easier (I still wanted it over with as the hand of the author was far too visible for me. Must end up here so characters must do this stupid thing here).

    All that said, I found it absolutely fascinating intellectually.

  26. I meant to reply to your via Patreon but I could never have the time, sorry. Lots of family issues that take my time these days – which is why you don’t see me review many books either. No time to read 🙁

    We’ll have to just agree to disagree about the series, although given that I like the series (like, because I have reservations after the third book, and I don’t think I will keep on reading), I don’t know how you will react if you ever pick up a young adult series that I loathe, LOL.

    Oh, and I meant to tell you – here’s a shocker, if you haven’t read the review: I genuinely enjoyed what seems like the last book in that Avon series. Ilona Andrews has this habit of grabbing me back in when I’m nearly out the door, it’s like having a bad addiction habit that I can’t break. Shame that I can’t seem to find any other not-long-running UF series that I can bite into to make up for the current state of all my to-buy UF series going haywire.

  27. amousie

    No worries. Real life can be a bitch and a bastard combined. I do understand.

    I got completely thrown out of this 2nd book very early on. I do like aspects of it. I love the the world and its potential for fun. I don’t see a reason to hobble half the population the way the author did but that’s the author’s choice. I don’t like that the women really have nothing without the men. Not even Feyre. And all Amaratha accomplished turned out to be essentially a lie. I could also do without the everyone is a victim backstory. I’ve noticed it for a while now but this book made wonder how long ago it became such a major trend. As if each character now had to one-up each other on how horrible they had. It’s definitely a cultural thing in the US in real life so I’m actually kind of curious.

    There really are no rights or wrongs with this story or the series. You and I just read very different stories. Which if you think about it is an amazing achievement by the author.

    I do wish you were closer because this is one where I’d love to sit down for a beer or a cup of coffee with a table of munchies and just have fun pulling apart the positives and the negatives and the truly amazing stuff to see how we viewed the pieces differently and the stuff each of us missed. The girl power piece. Some day, I would really like to talk about it. Not now, when there’s leisurely time for both of us.

    I like the Andrews team. When they are on, I enjoy the heck out of them. Since their career is on an upward trend, I’d say that I should be ignored. You’re a much better reader than I am. Seriously hands down because you go with it and have a blast. Once I get kicked out, I’m generally out. I doubt I could even tolerate a young adult series you loathed.

    UF: I really liked the first 3 books of the Hollows series, although Rachel Morgan is pretty ditzy. I still enjoyed them after that but they went from a year apart story time wise to it happens back to back within days or a week. I had had time away to process the story so to come back with Rachel still in the middle of internal guilt monologues when I’d already moved on… well, it got grating. Plus certain characters got on the back burner and I missed them. But I’d re-read the first three books to see if they stand up to memory.

    I did struggle with the 2nd to last book a lot. The last book was totally paranormal romance but I thought the author did a really nice job wrapping the series up. I could’ve done without the epilogue although there were aspects of it that were adorable.

    Book which was a wallbanger for me even though intellectually I appreciated the campy almost old-skool layering was A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet. Debut book and it shows because there’s about 3 different story ideas (and really the heroine since who the narrator portrays herself as in the beginning is not the character you end up with) which are woven into an almost cohesive whole. Yes, I got thrown out so grain of salt.

    Even the scene that was the final one for me (toward the end). OMG, the hilarous layering on that thing. If I hadn’t called it about 100 pages earlier and then wrote myself a note saying the author better not go there… well I think I might have appreciated it more.

    I’m so not the reader for this book but you MIGHT be. Everyone else, including NPR, Kirkus, Smart Bitches, etc seemed to love it if their best romance of the year tags mean anything.

  28. amousie

    Little fun fact chuckle I read recently: The leader of a hyena pack is not the most vicious, powerful “alpha” female. It’s the female with the most social connections who is most liked within the pack.

  29. My tastes never run in tandem with NPR, Kirkus, Smart Bitches, etc.Especially since – and I wonder whether this comment will get me in trouble – a lot of time good reviews seem part and parcel of some kind of hype machine to promote something new and “in”.

    Not just in romance, it also happens a lot in comics, movies, video games, toys, etc – especially on YouTube, where it’s pretty clear a bunch of the bigger channels received perks and goodies from the creators of some product which they proceeded to review. There’s a reason why reviewers of movies, toys, and video games are rarely taken seriously these days – many of them are seen as promoters. Book reviewers are already falling down fast on that slippery slope, especially now that reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are being weaponized as sales tools.

  30. amousie

    Preaching to the choir. I only picked it up to see what was being promo’d as the Best Romance of the Year. Wallbanger for me. But the first half is like campy road trip, 2nd half tedious for me. The de-virgining scene: last straw because I was already annoyed and had called the erotica must have sex to save her life trope about 100 pages back. But it is seriously over-the-top and I’m not talking about the sex. It’s the vision she has of her god Father Poisidon in the middle of the action when she’s considering rejecting his healing gift to her.

    I never go to Amazon except to read negative reviews of products I’m considering. Nope on GoodReads. I go to Smart Bitches for the Help A Bitch Out. I’m finding I’m reading fewer and fewer reviews anywhere because of what you mention. And everything everywhere seems to be a weaponized sales tool including my data as I pop around the web.

    Hope your family stuff works out.

  31. The family stuff is becoming more stable. My sister has terminal cancer, and she decided to forgo chemo because she is already frail enough. I’ve been helping her arrange for palliative care (spent the last few weeks at her place to care for her full time while we sorted this out), so I’d have more free time when the nurse comes over daily to help out.

    PS: I’ve ordered that book. Pray for me when it arrives, LOL. I also ordered the paperback version of And I Darken by Kiersten White. People are talking about how the heroine in this YA story (brace yourself) is insane and violent, so I just have to find out for myself what the fuss is about.

  32. amousie

    I ordered both books from the library too. I’ll re-read and read the other one quasi with you.

    Good luck with the family care. My dad died quickly in comparison but I understand how draining and at the same time powerful the experience of being there at the end and sharing is. Be kind to yourself and make sure you take care of yourself, even with the extra help. It’s so easy to get caught up in being there for someone else.

    Laugh as much as you and your sister can. Say what must be said and don’t say that which should never be said because that shit just doesn’t matter after they’re gone.

    Big virtual hug.

    (and yes, I’m behind too on internet stuff. Nothing bad, just real life keeping my focus elsewhere.)

  33. Laugh as much as you and your sister can. Say what must be said and don’t say that which should never be said because that shit just doesn’t matter after they’re gone.

    Absolutely. That’s exactly it, thanks.

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