Monday, February 27, 2012

Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews Fate's Edge Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Ace
Release date: November 29, 2011

Series: Edge #3

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale—and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Born to a family of conmen, Audrey Callahan left behind her life in the Edge for an unmagical existence in the Broken. Audrey is determined to stay on the straight and narrow, but when her brother gets into hot water, the former thief takes on one last heist and finds herself matching wits with a jack of all trades.

Kaldar Mar is a gambler, a lawyer, a thief, and a spy with some unusual talents that guarantee him lucrative work. When his latest assignment has him tracking down a stolen item, Kaldar doesn’t expect much of a challenge—until Audrey turns up to give him a run for his money.

But when the missing item falls into the hands of a lethal criminal, Kaldar realizes that in order to finish the job and survive, he’s going to need Audrey’s help…

Ilona Andrews is one of my favourite authors, hands down. They (it’s a husband and wife team) create such delightful stories, filled with great characters, amazing plot lines, and crisp dialogue. They write two urban fantasy series -- the Kate Daniels books and the Edge series -- among other things. (You may remember my gushing from when I dared you to read Magic Slays, the first book in their Kate Daniels series.) 

The Edge series consists of three novels so far: (1) On the Edge, (2) Bayou Moon, and (3) Fate’s Edge, the book I’m writing about today. It’s difficult to talk about Fate’s Edge without referencing other books so I’m going to give you an quick intro to the series. Without further ado, may I present your rudimentary introduction to the Edge. (Feel free to skip down if you’re familiar with the series.)

The Edge primer

When this series debuted, the authors described it as “rural fantasy” -- it has the elements of urban fantasy but it’s not set in a city, it’s set in a more rustic setting. The basic premise of the series is that there’s a magical dimension that coexists with our mundane, non-magical one. So far, everything correlates with North America though the world may extend beyond this. The magical world is known as the Weird and it’s essentially an alternate America, splintered into feuding nations and baron states; the non-magical area is the Broken. The spots where the Weird and the Broken come together are known, rather transparently, as the Edge.

There are different kinds of folks who live in the magical dimension. Most people have a variety of magical abilities, including the ability to flash, where they generate a bright flash of magic. Flashing can be used for attack or defense and come in different strength levels. The strongest flashers flash white, the next strongest blue, etc. A lot of other people, particularly Edgers, often have other abilities, like cursing or, as in Audrey’s case, the ability to open any lock. There are also changelings. Changelings are treated differently, depending on what part of the Weird they live in. In Adrianglia, which roughly corresponds to the Eastern Seaboard from New York to Georgia, they’re second class citizens, forced into group homes and eventually the military. In Louisiana, the state that rivals Adrianglia, changelings are killed. Louisiana is not a nice place. In between Adrianglia and Louisiana is a place called the Mire, a swamp where people get exiled. All of the characters in the novels come from these areas.

With that established, let’s move on to brief explanations of who the main characters are in the first two novels. (Note: These summaries do absolutely no justice to the awesomeness of these books.)

On the Edge, our first taste of this world, tells the story of Rose, an Edger, and Declan, the Adrianglian blueblood who shows up in the Edge and eventually woos her. Declan and Rose re-appear in Fate’s Edge, along with Rose’s two younger brother, Jack and George, who are also prominently featured in On the Edge. Jack is a changeling and George is a necromancer, and they’re both back in Fate’s Edge. (If you want to know more about On the Edge, you can check out this post.)

The second book is Bayou Moon. Set in the Mire, this book is all about William and Cerise Mar. We met William, a wolf changeling, in On the Edge and now he’s front and centre because he heads to the Mire to kill Spider, one of the Hand. (The Hand is a group from Louisiana who are magically altered and creepy and Spider was responsible for massacring a group of changeling kids.) On his way, he meets Cerise, whose family is feuding with another Mire clan. One of Cerise’s relatives is Kaldar Mar, the main man in Fate’s Edge. Cerise and William also pop up in Fate’s Edge. (If you want more about Bayou Moon, you can check out this post.)

Alright, with that out of the way, I feel like I can talk about Fate’s Edge now. *phew*

Fate’s Edge just might be my favourite book in the series so far. There are a bunch of reasons for this but the main ones are Kaldar and Audrey. Individually, they’re  wonderful characters: Kaldar is handsome, loyal, burning for revenge, and slick as anything, and keeps a lot of himself hidden, while Audrey is so self-assured, smart, and capable, and I love her relationship with her raccoon, Ling the Merciless. (Most excellent pet name.) Audrey’s magical gift is also extremely cool. And believe it or not, these guys are exponentially more interesting when thrown together. Their initial meeting is brilliantly written! Audrey and Kaldar both know to use what they’ve got and run a good con so their relationship is characterized by moments of perfect sympatico, a lot of sparring, and an ample helping of chemistry. Watching them use their wits and wiles on each other, and then on their targets, and then on each other again makes for quite the roller coaster of a read!

It’s also great to see other familiar faces, like Jack and George, who have substantial parts in Fate’s Edge. They’re both such quirky dudes but there’s a special place in my heart for Jack, who struggles to find his place in society as a changeling. Changelings have such a different outlook on the world and it’s even more obvious with Jack than it was with William, who’s had more time to adjust to society’s expectations and limitations. Jack and William aren’t the only characters from previous novels to play a more central role in Fate’s Edge: they’re joined by Gaston, a member of Kaldar’s family that we met in Bayou Moon. I love it when authors weave main characters from previous books into other narratives and Ilona and Gordon Andrews have done it particularly well since you don’t actually need to remember these characters to enjoy the book (though it definitely helps!).

Another strength of the authors? Creating strong villains. Most authors do a wonderful job of creating compelling main characters but sometimes they can fall short with the bad guys. Not Ilona Andrews. Every challenge the characters face in Fate’s Edge is tough and the bad guys in question this time around are fearsome. Their leader is Spider’s niece and a Hound of Louisiana, meaning that she works directly for the Emperor. Needless to say, she’s not very nice. Nor is she pleased to be doing the work of the Hand but she’s loyal to her uncle and she’s stepping up to help him out. She’s also got a magically altered team with her and there are a few moments along the way where things get gruesome and dangerous. I love it!

I could go on (and on) but this post is already epic. Congrats if you made it this far! I’m going to wrap up by saying that Fate’s Edge is another killer installment in the Edge series and in the Ilona Andrews canon and that I’d recommend this series to anyone who loves a tight, twisting plot, complicated characters, and strong series mythology. I’ll be on tenterhooks till the next one!

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Born and raised in the Toronto area, Jenn moved to St. John's, Newfoundland, eight years ago for school. She's still in school (thankfully on another degree!), now trapped in her dissertation. When she's not dissertating, which happens more often than it should, Jenn spends her time reading, watching movies, playing volleyball, travelling, and enjoying the local music scene. Her latest addictions: yoga and Almond Crunch cereal.

13 People left their mark' :

  1. Oh awesome! I love Ilona Andrews as well mainly Kate Daniels. Well, yes, I haven't read the Edge yet. Why? I don't even know because as you it's one of my favorite author too. I'm glad this one was even better than the others. I can wait to start it to know more.

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    1. Well we have a long wait until the next Kate book so maybe that'll tempt you to give the Edge series a try. :)

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  2. Hi Jenn! Thanks so much for posting the primer! The whole series sounds great! Nice post!

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  3. Kenn, I LOVE Ilona Andrews! I might love theri Kate Daniels series a little bit more and sadly I haven´t caught up with The Edge yet, but now that you mention it, I should read it until I get my next Kate fix! :)

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    1. Can't wait to hear what you think!

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  4. Michelle Macaluso27 February 2012 at 21:30

    This is a great book and series!

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  5. Great review Jenn, I have only read the first book in this series so far, but will certainly catch up with them.

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  6. I'm a big fan of Andrews' Kate Daniels series, but the first book in this series was a DNF for me. I've read so many good reviews that I'll have to go back and give it another try.

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    1. Hopefully a second try will help. :)

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  7. Thanks for this review! Ilona Andrews is definitely my favourite author!
    I read everything they write but because I know it takes some times to write such good books, I keep them on my shelves as long as I can without reading them. I know: I'm weird!! The thing is I keep them like you'd keep very good candies or chocolate.
    So I have this one for two months on my shelve but I haven't read it yet. The Edge was very good. I'll beguin Bayou moon very soon.

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    1. I don't have that much self control. :) Enjoy them! Bayou Moon is wonderful, too!

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  8. I do need to get to this series. I'm now on the third book of Kate Daniels. :) Thanks for the great review!

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