#FridayReads 2021-01-01 ‘Battle Ground’ and ‘Magic Triumphs’

Finally, it’s 2021. I’m so glad that 2020 is over. Now, I can at least hope that 2021 will be better. 2021 is going to be my Year Of Reading Comfortably. My reading goal is to ‘Go with the flow and read as my whimsy takes me.’.

I’m going to start 2021 by saving the world. Twice. I hope.

Of course, it’s not really my world and it won’t be me doing the saving but at least I’ll be seeing someone trying their best to do the right thing. I’m reading key books from two of my favourite Urban Fantasy series. I’ll be visiting Harry Dresden in Chicago and Kate Daniels in Atlanta.

I’m hoping that both stories are exciting and cathartic and that both Harry and Kate survive. If they do, I’ll take it as a good omen for 2021.

‘Battle Ground’ by Jim Butcher (2020)

I love Jim Butcher‘s imagination. I’ve read all the Dresden books and all the six of the ‘Furies’ books and ‘The Aeronaut’s Windlass’ (question I’d most like to ask Jim Butcher: ‘When do we get book 2?).

Jim Butcher published the first Harry Dresden book, ‘Storm Front’, twenty years ago. Life was simpler then. Harry was just the only wizard with an ad in the Chicago Yellow Pages. Now, Harry is – well let’s just say he’s been through a lot. He’s faced down gods and monsters and has the scars, the debts and the enemies to prove it. He has a lot of blood on his hands and he’s become kind of scary.

I waited six years for Jim Butcher to write another Harry Dresden book after ‘Skin Game’, then, in 2020, he released two books at once. The first one, ‘Peace Talks’ I devoured as soon as I received it in July.

‘Peace Talks’ was the sixteenth Harry Dresden book and it felt like coming home. It was all the things that are best about the Harry Dresden series. I like Harry better than I did in the early books and much better than I did when I thought the whole series was over back at book twelve. I like his allies and even some of his enemies. And I’m in awe at Jim Butcher’s ability to make a supernatural threat feel real and then escalate it and escalate it until the odds feel impossible but giving up is not an option.

Yet ‘Peace Talks’ was really just there to set up the struggle in ‘Battle Ground’. I’ve avoided all spoilers, so I don’t know what will happen, but it feels like we’re heading to something quite final here.

I pre-ordered ‘Battle Ground’ so it’s been in my library since the audiobook version was published at the end of September. But I couldn’t bring myself to read it. 2020 was starting to get to me by then and it affected my reading appetite. I decided to wait until I felt excited at the prospect of reading ‘Battle Ground’ rather than wondering if I could make it to the end. Well, it’s time has come. I’m going to dive in and cheer for Harry. I think he’s going to need it.

‘Magic Triumphs’ by Ilona Andrews (2018)

Ilona Andrews made me abandon my long-held belief that jointly-written novels didn’t work. This wife and husband team work seamlessly together to produce stories that combine spectacular conflict with emotional engagement.

This is the bio from their website. I can’t improve upon it:

“Ilona Andrews” is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications
sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

We write together, we live in Texas, we have two daughters and way too many animals.

‘Magic Triumphs’ is the tenth book in the Kate Daniels series. I loved the early books, when Kate was a wild card who got away with summoning the Beast Lord, in his full were-lion form, by saying, ‘Here kitty kitty’. By book seven, ‘Magic Breaks’ I felt the series was starting to fade and almost gave up on it. Then Ilona Andrews gave the series a major reboot in book eight, ‘Magic Shifts’ and I was back on board. The storyline became more focused and the momentum carried through to book nine, ‘Magic Binds’.

I delayed reading book ten, ‘Magic Triumphs’, because it felt like it might be the final book and I didn’t want the series to be over. Then 2020 happened so the book stayed on the shelf although I did read the surprisingly good Hugh d’Ambray spin-off ‘Iron and Magic’ where Ilona Andrews managed to turn a villain into an almost hero.

I’m reading ‘Magic Triumphs’ now because ‘Blood Heir’, the first book in a new series, starring Kate’s adopted daughter comes out on 12th January 2021 and I’m keen to read it.

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