Jeff Somers' Trickster (Pocket Books, February 2013) and color me impressed.
Jeff builds a world, not unlike our own, where magicians, powered by blood sacrifices, are among us. The worlds greatest tragedies and wars are and were the results of the greatest of these blood mages creating rituals to gain power.
The amount of blood used in magical rituals determines how powerful the spell becomes. The most puissant mages in the world, the Archmages, the enustari, use other, lesser mages as bleeders, and a copious amount of mass murder, to power their spells, while everyone else makes do on what they can. Tricksters, the idimustari, at the bottom of the magical rung, use small amounts of blood to power cantrips, mu, to con the mundanes.
The story is written in the first person, neo-noir style, from the point of view of a lowly magician, a idimustari named Lemuel Vonnegan. He's living the high life with his dimwitted but physically impressive magician friend Pitr Mageshkumar aka Mags. And by living the high life, I mean the opposite. They're con men and not very good ones at that.
The book starts with Lem and Mags in NYC, broke and in desperate straights and their luck goes down from there. Lem has a code of honor of sorts. He refuses to bleed anyone else for his spells, including Mags, resorting to small gains for his own blood. But he's also a skilled spell-designer, able to hack spells apart to remove and replace useless words in order to improve the spells and cast them faster.
One fateful night, they heist a girl covered in blue glyphs from a guy and the enustari who prepared her for a special ritual want her back. It turns out that this Archmage is the most powerful in the world, one Mika Renar, an old crone hoping to cheat death. Renar apprentice Cal Amir tries to get Lem to give up the girl but things go from wrong to worse.
Mix in Lem's old master, Hiram Bosch, a spell designed to end the world in a very bloody fashion, a rather charming enustari in Texas, a demon artifact and a finale worthy of a neo-noir detective novel, and you've got Trickster, a very enjoyable read. I heartily recommend it. Oh, and Jeff has two or so trailers to the book (1, 2) and a special website (3).
Since I'm on a FATE Accelerated Edition kick currently, I plan on writing up a little on the characters presented in Trickster. Check out my future posts.
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