Review: “Magic Triumphs,” Ilona Andrews

Pros: So much goodness comes together!
Cons: Where do we go from here?!
Rating: 5 out of 5

Magic Triumphs is book 10 in the Kate Daniels series written by a husband-and-wife team writing as Ilona Andrews. The world-building is still fresh and original after all of this time. It’s an urban fantasy in which waves of magic have returned to the world and are breaking down anything technological. There are shape-shifters of every variety, mages, witches, a sort of vampire (although vampires are ravening beasts controlled by “navigators” rather than romantic quasi-humans)… and then there’s Kate. Kate is the only living child of Roland. Roland is a very ancient and powerful mage (and more) who is conquering the world piece by piece. She managed to magically “claim” Atlanta as hers, and he’s been testing her boundaries while she tries to learn what that claim means with the help of her ghostly Aunt Erra. She also married Curran, a very powerful wolf-shifter, in book nine. Magic Triumphs starts with the birth of their son Conlan and then quickly picks up just over a year later. The child has definitely inherited his mother’s magical bloodline, and it remains to be seen whether he has inherited his father’s shape-shifting.

Unfortunately Kate has a mysterious problem: an entire neighborhood’s worth of people went missing and all that remains of them is a soup made of their flesh (no bones). She can find no trace of the killers apart from the fact that they killed every dog in the area with bows and arrows. Next she gets a mysterious delivery of a box of ash along with a red rose and a knife, and some bizarre creepy dudes come asking after her “answer” to whatever message that was supposed to convey. After she’s forced to kill them–not an easy task–she sends bodies off to pretty much every group that has a stake in Atlanta’s freedom. When she visits one of those people to find out what they learned, an assassin belonging to her father tries to kill her and her son. Now it’s on–nobody messes with her loved ones!

Mr. Tucker was right. We were living in the Apocalypse. Slowly, with each magic wave, a little more of the old technological world died, and the new world and its powers and monsters grew a little stronger. Being one of the monsters, I supposed I shouldn’t complain.

There are some utterly fantastic fight scenes in here that I desperately want to see done on film, although it probably isn’t worth the risk of seeing them done poorly, because dear lord would this require a huge special effects budget! My favorite fight is between Kate and some assassins sent after her son, although the single assassin fight ends really powerfully as well. There’s an immense battle that conveys the chaos of war so beautifully. The authors are absolutely brilliant with action.

The characters are wonderful. It seems like pretty much everyone shows up in this installment, including Hugh, who’s trying to be a good guy. The characters are gorgeously three-dimensional and we get to see them put through their paces as nearly every major plot and character thread that’s ongoing comes to a head in one form or another. The only character I wasn’t entirely fond of was Hugh’s wife, and it’s possible that’s because I was seeing her through Kate’s eyes and the two of them are really different–in which case, good job on the authors’ part for conveying Kate’s viewpoint so well! Kate’s even trying her hand at a bit of politicking and manipulation, which are not her strong points. (She “doesn’t do” subtle.)

There are plenty of critters in here, including several new ones (dragons!). Conlan is a fascinating child even though he’s so young–I was pretty surprised by how much personality they managed to fit into a 13-month-old kid. There’s lots of high-octane magic getting thrown around as well. It’s an intense ride that really made me wish there was a sequel out!

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