Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ARC Review: Trickster by Jeff Somers

Tickster by Jeff Somers

Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: Ustari Cycle #1 
Pages: 386 Pages (Paperback)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: February 26, 2013
From master storyteller Jeff Somers comes a gritty new urban fantasy series starring a pair of unlikely heroes: low-life blood mages caught up in a violent scheme not of their own making.

Lem has ethics in using his magic. Therefore Lem is hungry and broke most of the time.

Ethics in the world of blood magic, however, is a gray area. While Lem will grift his way through life by using small glamours to make $1 bills appear as $20s, enabling him and his none-too-bright pal Mags to eat, he won’t use other people's blood to cast. Stronger spells require more blood, and hardcore magicians use Bleeders or “volunteers” to this end. Not Lem.

So when these down-and-out boon companions encounter a girl kidnapped and marked with magic rune tattoos, it’s not at all clear that they’re powerful enough to save her…or themselves. Turning to his estranged Master for help, it quickly becomes clear to Lem that not only is this beautiful, strange girl’s life all but forfeit, but that the world’s preeminent mage had big, earth-shattering plans for her—and he and Mags just got in the way


For a book that promises lots of action and is full of this much bloodshed the first half was surprisingly slow going! I found it really hard to get into the book actually. The second half- once it was all set up and the action was unraveling was more fun to read. This is one of these books that left me totally divided- some parts are awesome, others just meh!

The story line while definitely interesting, was also quite predictable.
I didn't really mind that actually. It's in many ways your classic urban fantasy.

As I said earlier I struggled to get into the book for the first half.. I think there were a couple of reasons for this:
First was the whole magic language- while I think it is cool, and a plus in the world building- it came over as too complicated and was introduced awkwardly. As a result I ended up highlighting the different words attaching notes with their meanings to it, thus creating my own cheat sheet. Armed with that it made my reading experience much more pleasant. Hence I would suggest that there would be a little dictionary added in the appendix or something.

The second reason: It took me a while to get invested into the characters, I still kinda can't care about Mags though. I found his character way to much of a caricature. A pet as Lem called him and that's about how much I cared for him The fact that Lem was so condescending was a real source annoyance, especially in the first half of the book. I guess in the second part I just couldn't be bothered any more

Claire, was definitely my favorite character. And while the whole book is written from Lem's POV, so one only gets to see Claire through his eyes, I was totally charmed by her. She is the victim, but she is brave and kickass! And I loved how she handled everything!
I want to know what happens to her- I do hope very much that she is in the next book, she would be one of the main reasons for me to read the next installment

Lem, the MC, was interesting and irritating at first. I found his flippant way he spoke about his friends annoying. But as I read on, he grew on me. I love the way he took on the situation, and stepped up his game. The reluctant hero in many ways, he is also aware of the fact that he, as he says, is not good people. But there is a line he doesn't wanna cross. While he has these principles he on the other side doesn't mind being a trickster which is kinda at odd with each other... his excuse - we not good people. Amazingly enough he did explain it and I was cool with that.

The thing I appreciated most about Lem, is that he realizes that he has to step up and make a mark (as he says) -Take a stand. And more than anything that he does. And afterwards he looks at others who didn't, and isn't judgmental. He doesn't know why he did, just that in that moment he had to.

The scenes between Lem and Claire are really beautiful. And honestly I am so rooting for them. Not sure that it will actually happened. But their relationship moved me. It felt real
And Somers description of the bus ride- evoke memories of me sitting up and talking, connecting and spilling secrets in the middle of the night... I married that dude. Guess I am slightly biased, still it has a realness and solidity to it, that touched me. In general Somers did subtly weave and build their relationship- no big bang or anything. But there was loads of chemistry there. I think this shows great writing potential!

The language used in the book is rather crass. I really didn't mind- since I think a guy like Lem would talk and think like that. The f-word is used extremely liberally!But if you have an aversion against it- It might pose a problem.

The world building is great. I love the idea of the different magical abilities. The fact that it needs blood for casting it, its own language- all that set in a modern urban setting. Superb!

Would I read the next installment? During the first half- I would have said no. But after finishing it. Yes! I definitely will! In fact I am wondering if many of the flaws couldn't been avoided by harsher editing.
I enjoyed the grittiness and the whole primeval fell to Trickster. While it didn't deliver what it could have, there is huge potential for this series!

ARC was provided by Publishers through Netgalley. Thank you!

View all my reviews here

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