TricksterPaperback The Ustari Cycle
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- Publisher: POCKET BOOKS
- Format: Paperback | 369 pages
- Dimensions: 104mm x 170mm x 36mm | 160g
- Publication date: 1 March 2013
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 1451696779
- ISBN 13: 9781451696776
- Sales rank: 340,318
Praised by the "Guardian "for stories that are "exhilarating . . . powerful and entertaining," Jeff Somers returns with a darkly original urban fantasy series featuring a cadre of mages operating just under the radar of human society. Magic uses blood--a lot of it. The more that's used, the more powerful the effect, so mages find "volunteers" to fuel their spells. Lem, however, is different. Long ago he set up a rule that lets him sleep at night: "never use anyone's blood but your own." He's grifting through life as a Trickster, performing only small Glamours like turning one-dollar bills into twenties. He and his sidekick, Mags, aren't doing well, but they're getting by. That is, until they find young Claire Mannice-- bound and gagged, imprisoned in a car's trunk, and covered with invisible rune tattoos. Lem turns to his estranged mentor for help, but what they've uncovered is more terrifying than anybody could have imagined. Mika Renar, the most dangerous Archmage in the world, is preparing to use an ocean of blood to cast her dreams into reality-- and Lem just got in her way.
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By Sarah Elizabeth 01 Mar 2013
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Pocket Books and Edelweiss.)
Lem is a trickster - someone who uses blood to perform magic. Lem's magic is pretty basic - making dollar bills appear to be larger bills, and cheating at cards. He does have limits though, while others use other peoples blood - bleeders, to fuel their magic, Lem will only use his own, which often leaves him woozy, and limits how much magic he can do.
One day Lem and his best mate Mags find themselves in a sticky situation. Not only do they have a dead body to dispose of, a priceless super-powerful artefact to deal with, and a missing marked-up naked girl on the run, but as it turns out, all three of these belong to the most powerful woman alive, who is, oh yeah... a serial killer.
Now Lem must figure out what to do next. He's usually more concerned with finding some way to pay for breakfast rather than searching for a missing girl and trying not to get killed, but needs must.
Can Lem find the missing girl? Can he return her and the artefact without getting himself killed? And what sort of spell is the girl to be used for?
This book was pretty gritty, and although Lem could do magic he was known to be one of the lesser mages, and his magic was nothing compared to the stuff he's inadvertently found himself mixed up in.
There were some moments I found odd in this book, right at the beginning Lem finds a dead girl in a bathtub and wonders how he can make money out of this discovery - what? And later, Mags comes back from the grocery store with bourbon, Lem comments how 'liquor is not food', and Mags says that he didn't want to waste their last $40 on food!
The use of magic, and the environment that this book was set in kind-of reminded me of drug users - they stayed in some really nasty places, never had any money, and Lem was constantly cutting himself for blood to power his magic. They seemed to be always scared of those who had more magic than them, and after landing themselves in the mess they were in, they had the threat of this most powerful woman hanging over their heads too.
The ending left an opening for further books following this one, but I don't think I'd want to read them to be honest, this was a little too gritty for me. It's the sort of thing that I would expect my older brother to enjoy though.
Overall; gritty urban fantasy about blood magic.
6.5 out of 10.