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.
“I TOLERATE YOU FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR MOTHER’S MEMORY, BUT MY PATIENCE IS AT ITS END.”
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.”
“YOU BROKE INTO MY HOUSE. YOU UPSET YOUR GRANDMOTHER. YOU DAMAGED MY PRISON, AND YOU STOLE MY CAPTIVES. RETURN WHAT IS MINE.”
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.
“I AM THE SHARRUM OF SHINAR. MY LINE GOES BACK A HUNDRED GENERATIONS. I WILL NOT BE DISRESPECTED!”
“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.