Aidee’s “Lightning Reviews” of the Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews (+ discounted books!)

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews book coverKate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way our of her league—but she wouldn’t want it any other way…

This edition includes in-depth information about the world of Kate Daniels with descriptions of its characters and factions. Explore Kate’s Atlanta like never before with a quiz to find your place there and with answers to frequently asked questions. And don’t miss the prequel story “A Questionable Client” as well as scenes of events in Magic Bites from Curran’s point of view.

This book is the epitome of urban fantasy, and yet it also bucks tradition in many ways; it has a strong, mysterious heroine and all sorts of magic, heavily influenced by Russian folklore. If I tell you that Kate manages to fail spectacularly in this book, would that be considered a spoiler? I liked that because usually in the first few books of a series, the protagonist fails in smaller ways and the failures escalate the further along we get into the series.

Grade: A

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews book coverAs a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack—Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shape shifters—she quickly realizes much more is at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug of war between two gods hoping for rebirth, and if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, Atlanta may not survive…

I’m calling this the Curran book (I guess they’re all Curran books to a certain extent) but this is the book where we learn the most about Curran’s character. We get deeper into Kate’s world and get to know more about her powers; the ending is bittersweet because we see a devistated Kate, but we also see a Kate with an increasing set of ties to those around her.

Grade: B+

Magic Strikes by Ilona AndrewsDrafted into working for the Order of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems than she knows what to do with these days. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot.

But when Kate’s werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games—an invitation only, no holds barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament—she and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta’s shapeshifting community…

I’m really not sure how this happens, but just when you think things can’t get any worse, Andrews manages to up the ante. The truth of Kate’s paternal heritage is finally fully exposed, and we get a fabulous rescue scene starring Curran. We’re also introduced to Hugh, who will become important later on in this series.

Grade: A-

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews book coverKate Daniels works for the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.

When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar midway between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father.

This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family…

In a way, this book manages to do 2 contradictory things at the same time; it breaks some of that tension that has been building between Kate and Curran, but it also ramps up the overall tension in the series. I laughed aloud often while reading this book, and also got teary-eyed on more than one occasion, which is impressive,considering this is the fourth book and I binge-read these puppies.

Grade: A-

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews book coverKate Daniels may have quit the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name. Plus, many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. But it turns out that this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her may pay the ultimate price…

This book further establishes Kate and Curran’s ability to muscle together an alliance between the varied magical groups when push comes to shove, and it sets up a conflict that will follow Kate until the very end of the series. We also learn even more about Kate’s family history. I appreciate Andrews’s ability to reveal more details about something without making it feel forcibly drawn-out.

Grade: A-

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews book coverMercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.

Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…

Kate Daniels’s world just keeps growing, which I’m totally here for. We see Hugh again, and Kate and Curran’s relationship endures some stress tests.

Grade: A-

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews book coverAs the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, but she must now deal with the affairs of the Pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel, ancient being with godlike powers.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend a gathering of leaders from Atlanta’s supernatural factions. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered by a shapeshifter, Kate is given less than twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war that could destroy everything she holds dear…

This book acts like a reset or refresh button on the series. The authors include a handy here’s-what’s-been-going-on-so-far section, and a cast of characters. The machinations of Roland and Hugh become increasingly more all-encompassing (it isn’t just about Kate anymore), and Kate makes another choice that will have repercussions for the rest of the series. And we meet another strangely loveable steed.

Grade: A-

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews book coverAfter breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Kate and Curran know that separating from the Pack completely is a process that will take time.

But when they learn that their friend Eduardo has gone missing, Kate and Curran shift their focus to investigate his disappearance. As they dig further into the merc’s business, they discover that the Mercenary Guild has gone to hell and that Eduardo’s recent assignments are connected in the most sinister way…

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece.

This one reads almost like one of the earlier books in the series. Kate tries to help out someone and encounters a force much larger than what she was expecting. But it’s not, because Kate is no longer the lone mercenary–she’s engaged to the former Beast Lord, has an adopted kid, and is responsible for much more than she could have ever imagined. And our favorite attack poodle rejoins the battle–Kate did not have an attack poodle at the beginning of all this.

Grade: B+

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews book coverKate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar.

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in a never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim.  But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

Kate’s world continues on it’s complicated trajectory in this book. To me, as the books progress, Kate has to keep making decisions that are emotionally intense, and they drive much of the action in this book.

Grade: B+

Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews book coverKate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

This book is epic. I thought it would be epic when I preordered the audiobook, and I was right. Not only is it long, it’s got epic fantasy elements. And before you get too worried, yes, Kate gets her happy ending, and the world does not explode in a magical fireball. Most of the characters we’ve come to know and have strong feelings for are present for this last book, with one exception. Kate and Curran’s relationship undergoes a few stress tests, but they remain solidly committed to each other. We get to see Kate in all of her aspects—friend, partner, reluctant leader/ruler, warrior, and mother. We also get to see a very cute baby, and he is no plot moppet.

[I’d like to take a moment here to discuss Roland. I came across a review of this book that felt that Roland had become simplified at the end, because of how he was defeated. The thing is, the more we learned about Roland, the less complex his motivations were. One of the characters describes them as compulsions. Also, Andrews needed to give Kate a way of ending Roland that didn’t contradict everything she had worked to become.The way Kate took care of Roland accomplished all of those things.]

Grade: A-

You can buy Magic Bites here which is currently on sale for $2.99Magic Bites is currently on sale in kindle format for $5.99Magic Strikes hereMagic Bleeds hereMagic Slays hereMAgic Rises hereMagic Breaks hereMagic Shifts here, Magic Binds here, and Magic Triumphs here.

Incidentally, it’s a different series, but currently the first three Inkeeper Chronicle books have been put into one volume, and you can buy it for just $0.99 right now in “Volume One!” 

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