Hugo Novel Review: Warbound by Larry Correia

Warbound is the third book in Larry Correia’s Grimnoir Chronicles, preceded by Hard Magic and Spellbound. It takes place in a fantasy alternate-history 1930s. The branch in history took place in the 1850s when a magical force called The Power chose some subset of humanity to draw on its magical resources and become superpowered to give them the power to fight against the monstrous Pathfinder that eats magic and twists that magic to its own devices. And the Pathfinder itself is only an advance scout of its even more powerful master.

Enough people have been chosen by the Power that their abilities have become well known and part of national military forces, mostly used for international conflicts. Not many believe in the Pathfinders and even fewer believe that there is an even more dire threat waiting to attack the earth. But one organization, the Grimnoir, stands vigil. And now they’re going on the offensive.

Since this is book three in a series I started with the assumption that I’d be lost a goodly portion of the time. I admit I was interested in the challenge–I did that quite a few times in high school when I could only get books from a very limited school library that had a few fantasy books but often not all the ones in a series so I had to learn to hit the ground running and pick things up as I went.

In Warbound I had no difficulty with figuring out the setting, the characters, or the situation. In fact, even with this as my first introduction to the setting I thought some of the reveal of that setting was rather belabored. The action would regularly stop for a half a page or a page while I get an infodump detailed enough to be out of place in most any character POV. I read one-fourth of the way through the book, figuring that was more than charitable if I hadn’t been drawn in yet by that point, and it seemed like that section of the book at least was significantly bulkier than it really needed to be.

That first section of the book mostly follows Jake Sullivan, leader of the attack against the Pathfinder’s master, recruiting and organizing his attack force from Grimnoir volunteers and other sources. Which is all well and good, but that section just went on way too long and with not much to hold my interest.

Several of the sections followed Faye, an Active (the name for the superpowered folk) who has been given the gift/curse of the Spellbound so that she takes the magical power of any person she kills. As her sections unroll she finds a reluctant mentor who may help her understand and control this attribute. But again, I found these sections lacking in much to hold my interest. Maybe that section was hurt particularly by my lack of background in the series, maybe there was something in her history that would’ve made me about her.

The prologue of the book was certainly action-packed, and that part was by far the most interesting followed by these slower sections. I wouldn’t say I was hooked by these parts to be sure I was going to read a whole book, but I also wasn’t focusing on when I’d let myself set the book aside.

I suggest skipping this book. Maybe some Warbound fans can chime in on why the rest of the book is great, but that first quarter of it just wasn’t enough to make me want to keep on spending my time on it. It was heavy on infodumps, light on action and character building, and overall just didn’t make me want to keep turning the pages.