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Crimes Against Magic by Steve McHugh

Crimes Against Magic

by Steve McHugh

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131591,855 (3.74)1
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    Already Dead by Charlie Huston (BJ3568)
    BJ3568: Similar level of grittiness and violence following an unlikely superhero type.

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Nathan Garrett has had his memory taken from him and has therefore spent the last ten years knowing nothing about himself but his first and last name. He's spent the intermittent years working as a thief, using magic when necessary to get by. When a chance meeting leads little droplets of memory returning, Nathan has no idea just how complicated the life he left behind was. If that were not enough, an old enemy has surfaced and is determined to take make the people Nathan cares about pay to bring about and end to their centuries old feud.

Crimes Against Magic floats between 15th century France and the present day. I normally don't have a problem with flashbacks if they add something significant to the story but found that they kept pulling me away from the exciting action that was happening in the present. Furthermore, any tension in 15 century France was impossible to maintain for the simple fact that we know that hundreds of years later, Nathan would be facing the antagonist once again. If anything, the time in the 15th century was used for a blatant info dump about who Nathan is. It certainly didn't add anything to the current days meta.

In what should have been an interesting twist, McHugh created an extremely magically diverse world. Picture a world in which werewolves, vampires, King Arthur and his court, Mordred, gargoyles, The Fates and Achilles are real and have a role to play. It should have been epic but at times it really just felt like supernatural name dropping. For instance, what is the point of invoking a wizard as powerful as Merlin but then not utilizing him as a character whatsoever? Even Achilles was a fake.

There are several familiar themes running through Crimes Against Magic. It's best described as Harry Dresden meets Jason Bourne meets James Bond. I must admit to being excited by the premise; however, it quickly became clear that Nathan Garrett is little more than an epic Gary Stu. Nathan is so perfect that women either want to play the damsel for him, sacrifice themselves for him, or fuck his brains out. What they all have in common is that they are all gorgeous. This means that none of the female characters, even those who are powerful, really get the development that they deserve. Instead, we got the pleasure of having a woman beaten near to death for Nathan's pain. Sure Nathan feels bad but once he figures out who he really is, he's got better things to do than stick around.

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1 vote FangsfortheFantasy | May 25, 2016 |
Yeah. Well... what to say about this... I'll start with explaining that I prefer urban fantasy that is not fantastical... noir and gritty is way better than cartoon-smash ups. This book starts kinda noir and gritty, then moves to cartoon land and adds in a bunch of new characters of different supernatural origins. Main character is a sorcerer, great, then we have psychics, okay, then gargoyles, well, all right, then vampires, oh-kay, then werewolves, err why?... each new form of supernatural didn't add anything to the story (i.e. the werewolf and the vampires were useless in the end, so why are they even here? humans could have been enemy fodder just as easily).

The pacing for the first part is pretty good - slow build, dole out the world and the history and the characters, then just after the halfway point a ton of characters are tossed into the mix (and are very difficult to distinguish/remember since they are just plopped into the story like they were really important... if they were so important, we should have met them sooner in the build up, not just have them pop in when they are needed as a plot device).

Another reviewer said something about it reading like a graphic novel, and I think that is a pretty accurate assessment - it starts off like a noir urban fantasy, devolves to graphic novel status, then kind of comes back toward urban fantasy again at the end. ( )
  crazybatcow | Apr 28, 2016 |
The first book in a series, this novel follows developments in the life of a professional thief (of sorts) who has forgotten his past. This thief is a magician who is relearning about his power and limits. The world established in the novel offers a mix of mythologies and its own set of magical rules. These books are violent and bloody, in the vein of the Joe Pitt series (Charlie Huston). The main character is a super hero type finding ways to overcome every increasingly complicated challenge (and getting a little more beaten and bruised each time). It will be interesting to see where the third book takes Nathan. ( )
  BJ3568 | Aug 4, 2014 |
I was loving this until characters seemingly started appearing out of thin air... Nate is an awesome character though. ( )
  sixthreezy | Apr 4, 2014 |
This is a fast moving, energetic and witty novel that introduces us to Nathan Garrett, an elite thief who was once much more. As the novel progresses we find out that Nathan has amnesia and doesn't remember anything before 10 years ago. That changes as the novel progresses and we learn about events in the long ago past--classic Greek and medieval events are introduced--that reveal Nathan's amazing abilities.

The mix of modern London and middle ages France plus lots of ancient name dropping adds up to a very exciting start for author Steve McHugh and his memorable character, Nathan Garrett. Crimes Against Magic is not only a great novel it's a wonderful introduction to a new series since there's a whole lot of ground that this book only alludes to. ( )
  dketelsen | Nov 8, 2013 |
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How do you keep the people you care about safe from enemies you can’t remember?

Ten years ago, Nate Garrett awoke on a cold warehouse floor with no memory of his past—a gun, a sword, and a piece of paper with his name on it the only clues to his identity. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his magical abilities to become a successful thief for hire.

But those who stole his memories aren’t done with him yet: when they cause a job to go bad and threaten a sixteen-year-old girl, Nate swears to protect her. With his enemies closing in and everyone he cares about now a target for their wrath, he must choose between the comfortable life he’s built for himself and his elusive past.

As the barrier holding his memories captive begins to crumble, Nate moves between modern-day London and fifteenth-century France, forced to confront his forgotten life in the hope of stopping an enemy he can’t remember.

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