Wednesday, April 25, 2012

[Book Review] A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

On the back cover of the book one of the authors supporting it describes it as a combination of Tank Girl meets...I don't even remember.  Something involving Urban Fantasy.  But essentially, its true.  My favorite series of all time, The Dresden Files, has in Harry Dresden a protagonist who describes himself as "more force than finesse" which has nothing on Rachel Morgan.

Rachel is about a subtle as a bag of hammers.  Note, she isn't stupid.  She's just very very very 'let's go kill this thing right now until its dead.'  And her subtler strategies typically involve finding the sneakiest way to go and find the thing to kill it.  I'm not saying she's bloodthirsty either, but I am DEFINITELY saying that Combat sans diplomacy is her preferred modus operandi and quite frankly she's pretty good at it.  Otherwise she'd be dead.


This is the tenth book in the series.  Rather than explain the whole series to those who might not have read it, you can learn about it here.  I will say that obviously I like the series, otherwise I wouldn't have read the 10th book in it, now would I?

As far as a Perfect Blood itself is concerned, its a good book.  Very often by the time a series gets this far, it starts to show its age, formula fatigue as I like to call it.  Even the Dresden Files did a little of this before major shake ups.  I will say that while the core dynamic between Ivy, Jenks and Rachel is (more or less) kept the same, as is the love/hate thing with Trent, the rest of it is extremely dynamic and Harrison uses very few to none of the Dues Ex Machinas that might tempt one to use in a world filled with magic.  She sets her rules, and she sticks by them.

More over, since the fantastic (ie Inderlanders) are 'out' in this world it is far more believable than it otherwise would be, and you see real consequences for both the world and the characters themselves, and this book is no exception. Now that the whole world knows that she is a demon, they want to know what she can do.  The dynamic tension between the mortal and supramortal law enforcement agencies is well played out, and she has just started to hint at the true politics of things, as well as the inevitable but natural government response of a super secret 'meta agency' that probably combines the elements of both (which, in my opinion would probably be necessary to make a world filled with as many nasty things as The Hollows work).

The humans are the bad guys in this one.   The biggest complaint I've had about the series for a while is that, as a mechanism for highlighting the awesomeness of the Inderlanders, the humans have, for the most part, been cartoon characters until by the 4th or 5th book we entered our token black and human character, Glenn, who has slowly learned to accept the Inderlanders.

That changes in this book, and while most of the humans are still scum, there are definite exceptions to the rule.  Granted, the better of them ends up becoming a demon by default but still.  So while the humans are STILL mostly cartoon characters, there are hints and shadows of humans with much more depth (ie the Men in Black) and a rather nifty new villain.  IE now that Rachel is getting 'along' with Al and Trent, a new villain is needed and HAPA fits the bill nicely.  HAPA is a human hate organization that has infiltrated lots of human society and wants to harness demons to frak everything else.  If you notice the inconsistency in this plan, so does Harrison, and-let's be honest, internal consistency in belief systems is not exactly something commonly found in the real world either.

In short, I like it.  It has its flaws, but I don't care about those flaws and the general awesomeness shines through.  Read it.  After you read the other 9.

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