What I’m Reading: Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series
My latest series is the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (husband and wife team Gordon and Ilona Andrews). I finished Magic Bites and started on the second book, Magic Burns last weekend. I was sucked (suckered?) in very quickly and ended up finishing the whole series (minus the novellas/short stories) last night. What I like about this series is that Kate Daniels is a hard-ass à la Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, but she too has a tender heart.
Kate Daniels has a mysterious background which has given her some very strong magical powers, a very cool sword named Slayer, and a host of characters who alternately want to kill her and recruit her for a variety of special jobs. We first meet Kate at a vulnerable time in her life: her last parent-figure, guardian Greg, has been murdered by some unknown beastie.
Greg was a member of the Order- think Knights Templar whose sole mission is to protect humanity from evil paranormal activities. Upon his death, the Order wants Kate to join up because as an apprentice, her scores were off the charts. However, Kate “has problems with authority.”
Set in a crumbling Atlanta which is beset by waves of magic and technology (electricity doesn’t work during magic waves and magic doesn’t work during tech waves), Andrews has crafted a post-apocalyptic city reminiscent of the locales in the Dante Valentine series. Bits and pieces of Atlanta are familiar to those who have been there, but skyscrapers have crumbled and mobile home villages have coalesced into the Honeycomb. Forests have taken back what was theirs and the airport is a now a fortified base of operations for a para-military group.
In the course of the first five books (I’ll try not to be too spoilery), Kate realizes that the life of a mercenary sword-for-hire isn’t going to cut it for her. She’s a trained killer, but she needs more in her life. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond her control, the “more” has to be kept at arms’ length or others can be hurt.
Similarly to Anita Blake’s world, Kate’s world is populated with a host of supernatural creatures including a menagerie of weres (lions, wolves and bears, oh my!); vampires, druids, golems, shamans, et cetera, et cetera. Unlike Anita, Kate doesn’t have to sleep with them to gain their power. She has her own powers which grow stronger the more she uses them and learns about them.
I like Kate’s snarky attitude- she’s got awesome one-liners and comebacks. Plus, her sword melts undead flesh. Just like Anita, Kate starts to build a “family” around her, trying to gain the “more” while keeping them safe.
I found these books to be page-turners because I wanted to see what was happening next. I like the folkloric elements that are incorporated throughout the novels, as well as the depictions of what life is like when magic and technology fight for prominence in the world. The conflicts aren’t repetitive, although some of the themes are; the new characters are introduced seemlessly rather than just being thrown into the mix. Once a character is introduced, that character is developed throughout the rest of the novels. Having a universe of dynamic characters keeps everything from becoming too flat.
And then, there’s the dog. Kate picks up strays like some people pick up litter on the sidewalk. If someone (or thing) is being abused, Kate’s sense of honor won’t allow her to stand by and watch. Sometimes this gets her in trouble, but sometimes it garners her a friend for life. I won’t ruin it for you, suffice it to say that the “mutant attack poodle” takes on a life of his own.
So now I’m in series withdrawal. Sometimes I hate that I read so fast because I run out material that’s worth the reading. Thankfully, there will be a new book this summer, so I’ll get to check back in with Kate and the gang to see how post-apocalyptic Atlanta is holding up. Now it’s on to the next thing!