WARBOUND (Amazon) is the third entry in New York Times Bestselling Author, Larry Correia’s urban fantasy epic, Grimnoir Chronicles. Though Larry has suggested the possibility of future books set in the Grimnoirverse, WARBOUND wraps up the particular story arc began with HARD MAGIC (EBR Review), an all-time favorite of mine. This is the first time Larry has concluded a series, and so I greeted WARBOUND with much excitement and a degree of reservation. As Larry’s fans are well aware, this man knows how to kick off a series with flair – but would he be able to end one in a similar fashion?
In short: well, duh! If you need continued convincing, read on. If not, you’ve probably had WARBOUND on pre-order for months now, and are just waiting for its release date in August to finally roll around.
Heavy Jake Sullivan is commanding a mission into Imperium territory, on the hunt for an alien from another dimension, aboard an experimental zeppelin, kept afloat with hydrogen, crewed by sky pirates, geared for war by John Moses Browning, and laden with Grimnoir Society knight wielding an array of abilities to rival the X-Men. Sally Faye Vierra, presumed dead, is searching Europe for a man capable of training her to be the Spellbound. With the threat of the Enemy looming ever nearer, Faye may be humanity’s single hope for survival – or its ultimate demise. How’s that for an elevator pitch?
Waiting a year for WARBOUND was almost unbearable (am I spoiled or what?) but it was sooo worth it. Having just come off a high from playing BIOSHOCK INFINITE, this served as the perfect chaser. Airships? Check. Magical powers? Check. Political problems? Check. Compelling characters? Check. Action? Check, checkity check check check.
WARBOUND has an incredibly diverse cast, populated with awesome characters (any one of which could carry a solo novel). We’ve got Jake Sullivan, reliable as gravity – the war hero turned convict, turned private investigator, turned knight of the Grimnoir Society. There’s Sally Faye Vierra – the badass teleporting death machine with a cheery disposition. There’s Iron Guard Toru, Pirate Bob the airship captain, wealthy industrialist Francis Stuyvesant, John Moses Browing, Pemberly Hammer – the Bureau of Investigation’s human lie detector…the list goes on and on. Of the new characters Doctor Wells is easily a favorite. Jake recruits Wells, a sociopath inmate of Rockville Penitentiary, in order to outwit the Imperium and the Pathfinder. Wells channels his inner Hannibal Lecter, making a memorable supporting character.
What’s great is that these aren’t all typical action heroes. Many of them can slug it out all day, but there are scientists, doctors, diplomats, detectives, serial killers, and engineers present. The Enemy cannot be defeated solely by the force of arms – saving the world will take some finesse.
I will admit to being slightly disappointed that characters such as Francis, Dan, Pemberly, and Heinrich have smaller roles this go around. WARBOUND definitely belongs to Jake, Toru, and Faye. This isn’t a major complaint as I love the relationship that develops between Jake and Toru, and Faye is…well, Faye. Honestly, it’s impossible not to love Faye. The new characters do much to make up for the absence, but it’s still noticeable. After all, I was redshirted by Heinrich in SPELLBOUND (EBR Review)!
The Grimnoir Chronicles’ alternate history has always been one of its greatest selling points. This is a world that would have carried on much like our own without the arrival of the Power. World War I was even more horrific with the addition of magical powers thrown into the mix, ending only with the firing of a Tesla super weapon. Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich never rose to power, but the Japanese Imperium did – guided by the dreaded Chairman. Despite the assassination of the Chairman in HARD MAGIC the Imperium is drawing closer to all out war with the West. In the United States the government moves to register the magical Actives in order to provide greater “security” for the nation. Semi-historical quotes set the opening of each chapter and historical figures like Raymond Chandler, Buckminster Fuller, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Moses Browning, and even Grigori Rasputin make appearances.
It’s an extremely cool setting, featuring magically augmented technology that is vastly more impressive than anything you’ll find in the Steampunk genre. The zeppelins of The Grimnoir Chronicles are remarkable (Jake’s experimental airship has firepower just shy of a Great War heavy cruiser). There are robots and all manner of deadly cool toys. WARBOUND even features Power armor. Power armor!
“Magic was nice in a fight… but it never hurt to back it up with bullets.”
With WARBOUND Correia takes urban fantasy into all out war. No other author I have ever encountered writes action quite like Larry. If you have ever wanted to read about a soldier and a samurai, each encased in Power enhanced armor, engaging legions of warrior-magicians with heavy firepower and explosive magic as an entire city devolves into chaos around them… well here you go! I love the magic system of The Grimnoir Chronicles. It’s interesting and intricate, each ability has limitations and dangers. It’s a system that evolves over the course of the series, almost as if it is given a character arc of its own.
Larry succeeds in bringing the series to a close while leaving room open for other novels set in the Grimnoirverse. The plot is full of victories and defeats, and I was personally impressed at the level of problem solving. This is a big action novel but it would be foolish to confuse it with a big dumb action novel. Becoming The One is much less about prophecy in the case of Faye, and much more about understanding the mechanics of the world surrounding her. Fighting the Enemy isn’t about charging in guns blazing, so much as identifying the motivations and actions of its pawns. There’s a really cool meta-moment involving the illustrations of Zachary Hill, peppered throughout the series. WARBOUND is a worthy sequel, a satisfying conclusion, and a reminder of Larry’s storytelling prowess (not that one was even needed). I’m sad to see The Grimnoir Chronicles end (for now) but I’m excited, as always, to see what comes next for the King of Pulp, Larry Correia.
- Recommended Age: 15+
- Language: Some, not as much as, say, MONSTER HUNTER LEGION (EBR Review)
- Violence: Erm, yeahhh. Faye is creatively violent, Jake can increase gravity to smoosh people, and Toru wields an 80 pound tetsubo.
- Sex: Hinted at one point, but not in any sort of explicit manner