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The Middling Affliction: The Conradverse Chronicles, Book 1 (Conradverse…

by Alex Shvartsman

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712,072,648 (4.5)None
GUARD BROOKLYN, FIGHT MONSTERS, TAUNT BAD GUYS "Shvartsman delivers real magic action and surprise twists...You're going to want more."--Esther M. Fiesner, Nebula-award winning author of the national bestseller, Warchild. What would you do if you lost everything that mattered toyou, as well as all means to protect yourself and others, but still had to savethe day? Conrad Brent is about to find out. Conrad Brent protects the people of Brooklyn from monstersand magical threats. The snarky, wisecracking guardian also has a dangeroussecret: he's one in a million - literally. Magical ability comes to about one in every 30,000 and canmanifest at any age. Conrad is rarer than this, however. He's a middling, oneof the half-gifted and totally despised. Most of the gifted community feelsthat middlings should be instantly killed. The few who don't flat out hate themstill aren't excited to be around middlings. Meaning Conrad can't tell anyone,not even his best friends, what he really is. Conrad hides in plain sight by being apart of the volunteer Watch, those magically gifted who protect their citiesfrom dangerous, arcane threats. And, to pay the bills, Conrad moonlights as aprivate detective and monster hunter for the gifted community. Which helps himkeep up his personal fiction - that he's a magical version of Batman. Conraddoes both jobs thanks to charms, artifacts, and his wits, along with copiousamounts of coffee. But little does he know that events are about to change hislife...forever. When Conrad discovers the TravelingFair auction house has another middling who's just manifested her so-calledpowers on the auction block, he's determined to save her, regardless of risk.But what he finds out while doing so is even worse - the winning bidder worksfor a company that's just created the most dangerous chemical weapon to everhit the magical community. Before Conrad can convince anyone atthe Watch of the danger, he's exposed for what he really is. Now, stripped ofrank, magical objects, friends and allies, Conrad has to try to save the worldwith only his wits. Thankfully though, no one's taken away his coffee.… (more)
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The Middling Affliction is set in a world where some people can manipulate magic (the "gifted"), and others can't (the "mundanes"). A dedicated group of Gifted, human and other, takes responsibility for protecting mundanes from monsters and certain Gifteds who might persecute them. The Watch is a volunteer group, and Conrad Brent's assignment is to protect the "normal" folks in Brooklyn.

However, Conrad is only impersonating being gifted; he uses magical charms and objects, which he can perceive, but he can't create spells or imbue objects with magic. Technically,
Conrad is a Middling, something anathema to the Gifted, which is the reason he is dissembling. His true outsider status may have given rise to his snarky retorts and all-around "grumpy" (his own word) nature.

Conrad's character can seem bad-tempered, but I found the resemblance to Harry Dresden, a protector with a pure heart, to be closer to his real personality. The inevitable happens in this urban fantasy when Conrad's true status is revealed, but before this he has successfully overpowered supernatural beings and brokered a truce between a rich land developer and Druids who have a sacred place on the property destined to become a theme park.

He also saves another Middling who was going to be sold at an auction -- thus a nod to the oppression facing those seen as "not us." Together, they flee from the close-minded Cabal, which takes pleasure in killing Middlings, in a fast-paced series of chases, battles, betrayals, reversals and rescues.

As the first in a series, author Alex Shvartsman has created a world with much potential -- and a second installment is now available. This first installment has its own rapid momentum leading to closure while nimbly keeping around certain malevolent dangers.

I received a free copy of this book from CAEZIK SF & Fantasy via BookSirens. This is an honest review. ( )
  khenkins | Apr 29, 2022 |
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GUARD BROOKLYN, FIGHT MONSTERS, TAUNT BAD GUYS "Shvartsman delivers real magic action and surprise twists...You're going to want more."--Esther M. Fiesner, Nebula-award winning author of the national bestseller, Warchild. What would you do if you lost everything that mattered toyou, as well as all means to protect yourself and others, but still had to savethe day? Conrad Brent is about to find out. Conrad Brent protects the people of Brooklyn from monstersand magical threats. The snarky, wisecracking guardian also has a dangeroussecret: he's one in a million - literally. Magical ability comes to about one in every 30,000 and canmanifest at any age. Conrad is rarer than this, however. He's a middling, oneof the half-gifted and totally despised. Most of the gifted community feelsthat middlings should be instantly killed. The few who don't flat out hate themstill aren't excited to be around middlings. Meaning Conrad can't tell anyone,not even his best friends, what he really is. Conrad hides in plain sight by being apart of the volunteer Watch, those magically gifted who protect their citiesfrom dangerous, arcane threats. And, to pay the bills, Conrad moonlights as aprivate detective and monster hunter for the gifted community. Which helps himkeep up his personal fiction - that he's a magical version of Batman. Conraddoes both jobs thanks to charms, artifacts, and his wits, along with copiousamounts of coffee. But little does he know that events are about to change hislife...forever. When Conrad discovers the TravelingFair auction house has another middling who's just manifested her so-calledpowers on the auction block, he's determined to save her, regardless of risk.But what he finds out while doing so is even worse - the winning bidder worksfor a company that's just created the most dangerous chemical weapon to everhit the magical community. Before Conrad can convince anyone atthe Watch of the danger, he's exposed for what he really is. Now, stripped ofrank, magical objects, friends and allies, Conrad has to try to save the worldwith only his wits. Thankfully though, no one's taken away his coffee.

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