The Grimnoir Chronicles
"We now have over a thousand confirmed cases of individuals with these so-called magical abilities on the continent alone. The faculty has descended into a terrible uproar over the proper nomenclature for such specimens. All manner of Latin phrases have been bandied about. Professor Gerard even suggested Grimnoir, a combination of the old French Grimoire, or book of spells, with Noir, for Black, in the sense of the mysterious, for at this juncture the origin of said Powers remains unknown. He was laughed down. Personally, I’ve taken to calling them wizards, for the very idea of there being actual magic beyond the bounds of science causes my esteemed colleagues to sputter and choke."
—Dr. L. Fulci, Professor of Natural Science, University of Bern, Personal Journal 1852
"The learned gentlemen from the university have asked me if I relied on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity or if I used the simpler rules of Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation on the evening in question when I accidentally took Sheriff Johnson’s life . Shit. I don’t know. I just got angry and squished the fucker. But I’ve gotten better at running things and I promise not to do it no more."
—Jake Sullivan, Parole Hearing, Rockville State Penitentiary 1928
Jake Sullivan is a war hero, a private eye—and an ex-con. He’s free because he has a magical talent, being able to alter the force of gravity in himself and objects in his vicinity, and the Bureau of Investigation calls on him when they need his help in apprehending criminals with their own magical talents. But the last operation he was sent along to help with went completely wrong, and Delilah Jones, the woman the G-men were after, who just happened to be an old friend of Jake’s in happier times, had a lot of magical muscle with her, too much muscle for the cops to handle, even with Jake’s help.
It Got Worse. Jake found out that not only have the Feds been lying to him, but there was a secret war being waged by opposing forces of magic-users. Worst of all, he had attracted the attention of one side's ruthless leaders-who were of the opinion that Jake was far too dangerous to be permitted to live...
The Grimnoir Chronicles is an Alternate History fantasy taking place in the early 1930s. Sometime in the 1800s magic appeared in the world, giving a small fraction of the population one of a standard set of super-powers, such as fire, healing, and teleporting. Just like his other series, Larry Correia provides some of the best action scenes out there, fueled by pure distilled Rule of Cool. A gravity-controlling private eye teams up with a guy who can walk through walls to fight a bulletproof samurai. A teleporting ninja with a katana goes up against a teleporting Oklahoma girl with a shotgun. Bullets fly, demons are summoned, and stuff blows up.
The first in the series is Hard Magic (released May 3 2011). After Jake Sullivan fails to bring in his former Love Interest for murder, he makes some inquiries and finds out that things aren't what they seem. He's soon caught up with a secret society sworn to stop the Japanese Imperium, led by the indestructible Chairman Tokugawa, from taking over the world. At the same time, an Okie named Faye witnesses the murder of her adoptive grandfather at the hands of a mysterious one-eyed man. His dying command is for her to protect a strange mechanical device, designed by someone named Tesla.
- An Ice Person: Iceboxes
- Anti-Hero: Harkeness turns out to be a Grimnoir knight, who killed Pershing as part of a longer plan to defeat the Chairman. When Browning finds out, he still kills him for it.
- Action Girl: Both Faye and Delilah.
- And in the second book, Hammer. And Whisper, who throws a gods's fire back at it.
- Anti-Magic: The Dymaxion Nullifier is introduced in Spellbound.
- Badass: Just about everyone involved.
- Batman Gambit: Harkeness is running one against the Chairman.
- Battle Couple: Jake & Delilah. Faye and Francis, briefly.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Faye very calmly vows to kill both Madi and the Chairman himself. She manages half of that, facilitates the other half and makes up the difference in mooks and property damage.
- Beware the Superman: Part of the Imperium's plan for taking over the world is to sow distrust of Actives in the United States, by framing them for a Peace Ray attack.
- BFG: Jake carries two different ones at various points of the book. During an Imperium assault on a Grimnoir safehouse, Heinrich and Francis break out a Browning M2 heavy machine gun, a weapon so large that Faye mistakes it for some piece of farm machinery.
- Boxed Crook: Jake is a fairly free-range one at the beginning of the book.
- Big Bad: The Chairman.
- Cosmic Entity: The Power itself turns out to be some kind of massive space... thing, which is in a symbiotic relationship with the people of Earth. It's on the run from a mysterious Enemy; can you say 'Sequel Hook?'
- Chekhov's Gun: Early on, it's said that the Chairman could only killed by a direct hit from a Peace Ray/Geo-Tel. Guess how he dies at the end.
- Cute Bruiser: Delilah.
- Dark Action Girl: Toshiko.
- Defector From Decadence: Toru
- Designated Girl Fight: Faye vs. Toshiko. Despite this, it's an awesome fight scene featuring frenetic Teleport Spam on a flaming zeppelin in the middle of a pirate attack on said zeppelin. Did I mention Toshiko is a Ninja?
- Differently-Powered Individual: in-universe, supers are variously referred to as Actives, Magicals and more.
- Elite Mooks: The Iron Guard and Shadow Guard are superpowered, very highly trained and magically enhanced to boot.
- The Empire: The Imperium, natch.
- Encyclopedia Exposita: Each chapter is opened with some historical quote, throwing out hints about the Alternate History, such as Hitler being executed before rising to power, Theodore Roosevelt dying in World War I against the Kaiser's zombies, etc.
- Evil Counterpart: see Evil Twin. Same applies to Faye and Toshiko.
- Evil Twin: Not a twin per se, but Jake and his brother (Madi) look similar enough that Faye shoots him on sight.
- Fiction 500: Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant is the richest man in the world, and owner of United Blimp & Freight. Francis is his grandson, and ends up inheriting the company.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Much of the current technology is produced by Cogs, whose Power is a supernatural aptitude for science.
- Genius Bruiser: Jake. Exceptionally well-read, brilliant enough to figure out what the Power really is, and a giant hulk of a man.
- Gravity Master: Sullivan and his brother Madi can control gravity. Most Heavies can only lighten objects that they try to carry, but Sullivan practiced with his Power enough that he can change the direction of gravity, amplify it, etc.
- Gray Eyes: A trait shared by all Travelers,
- Gun Porn: Toned down from the Monster Hunter International series, since they have magic to fight with too this time, but that doesn't keep John Moses Browning from giving Sullivan a tour of his workshop.
- Handicapped Badass: Madi only has one eye. Lance has a very pronounced limp.
- Happily Adopted: Faye...until her adopted parent is killed by Imperium agents.
- Healing Hands: Healers such as Jane are in high demand, and a standard part of any rich person's retinue.
- Healing Factor: Passive Healers. Also, anyone with one or more kanji of healing.
- Heavyworlder: Apparently, all Spikers/Heavies are huge, stocky types.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Near the beginning of Book Two, the Grimnoir are framed for an assassination attempt on FDR, and spend the rest of the book dealing with the fallout.
- Historical Domain Character: John J. "Black Jack" Pershing and John Moses Browning are both Grimnoir knights, and Sullivan has some unpleasant dealings with J. Edgar Hoover.
- In the second book, Buckminister Fuller makes a brief but significant appearance.
- Historical Person Punchline: The UBF accountant (who helped in the climactic battle, explaining that he fought with the Gordon Highlanders in World War I), turns out to be Raymond Chandler.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: In Real Life, Imperial Japan was racist, militaristic, and expansionist, with an array of atrocities to its name. The Imperium is all of that, turned Up to Eleven, and more succesful. Averted with Franklin D. Roosevelt, where his actions are exactly what he did in real life, just with a different target.
- Hope Spot: Just after defeating the Bull King, Delilah gets run through by a ninja.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The massive Jake and the petite Delilah.
- Intangible Man: Heinrich, one of the Grimnoir knights, is a Fade, who can walk through walls and let weapons pass right through him.
- Interservice Rivalry: The Iron Guard and Shadow Guard (or at least Madi and Toshiko) do not have a high opinion of each other.
- Jerkass: Charles. Gould. Stuyvesant.
- Living Lie Detector: Justices, such as Hammer.
- Living on Borrowed Time / The Last Dance: After Delilah is killed, she is accidentally revived by an Imperium necromancer. Rather than being immediately put down, she decides to go out fighting.
- Little Miss Badass: Faye, who may or may not be 18 yet and is pretty small. She irritates everyone trying to fight her by not being where they think she is and, in the final battle, kills around a hundred Imperium marines and wounds the Chairman.
- Made of Iron: Madi and Rokusaburo in particular, Brutes, Massives and people with kanji of durability in general.
- Magic A Is Magic A: Turns out there are very structured cosmological underpinnings to the seemingly-random magical gifts.
- Meta Origin: All magic powers (be they innate or the kanji brands) come from The Power.
- Mighty Whitey: Madi is a villainous example leavened only by the fact that there are other Caucasians in the Iron Guard, none of whom are on his level or that of the Japanese members.
- Mind Control: Beasties such as Lance can control animals and see through their eyes for reconnaissance. Mouths like Dan can control people to a limited extent, but can't make them do anything they wouldn't consider anyway.
- Mind Over Matter: Francis comes from a long line of Movers.
- Mirror Match: Twice, Sullivan has to go head-to-head with his brother, pitting gravity powers against gravity powers. See also Faye vs. Toshiko
- Near-Death Experience: Both Jake and Faye. When caught up in it, they can see the two most powerful beings on Earth: The Power itself, and the Chairman.
- Necromancer: In-setting, an Active (such as Hiroyasu) that can raise and command zombies is called a "Lazarus."
- Nietzsche Wannabe: The Chairman's philosophy has elements of this; Madi takes those elements and runs with 'em as far as they can go.
- Ninja: The Shadow Guard. Membership is restricted to highly trained Fades and Travelers.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Ninjas, pirates, and zombies all come together for the big climactic fight scene of Hard Magic.
- Then, of course, robots show up in the sequel Spellbound.
- Noble Bigot: Travelin' Joe hates the Okies that pass by his farm, but not so much that he doesn't adopt one to keep her from killing herself with her power.
- One Person, One Power: an in-setting rule of thumb to which Chairman Okubo Tokugawa is the sole exception as far as anyone knows. By the end of the first book however, both Faye and Sullivan have gone some way towards disproving it.
- Pet the Dog: In a very human and even kind moment, the Chairman consoles Sullivan over Delilah's death and helps him come to terms with it; Sullivan even sincerely thanks him for it. . . right before saying that he still plans on killing him regardless.
- Playing with Fire: Torches. Most Torches are actually employed to put out fires, especially on zeppelins.
- Playing with Syringes: Frequent mention is made of the horrific medical experiments carried out by Unit 731
- Poisonous Person: Harkeness is a Pale Horse, an Active so rare they border on mythological status. He can control his power at will, but that doesn't make Stuyvesant any less wary of him.
- Power Tattoo: The kanji used by the Imperium to enhance their operatives. They are technically brands though as opposed to actual tattoos.
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old: The Chairman is the very first Active, and is thus considerably older than he looks.
- Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Francis.
- Rule of Cool
- Sadistic Choice: Presented by an accident rather than malice. When Faye shoots Jake, and Heinrich shoots her, Jane only has enough healing power to save one of them.
- Seen It All: Due to his advanced age & extensive travels, the Chairman suffers from a mild case of this.
- Sequel Hook: The glossary references to Active types that didn't otherwise appear in Hard Magic. Boomers (who are kept locked in lead-lined chambers, hint-hint), Nixies and Justices for example.
- All three of which show up in Spellbound.
- School of Seduction: Part of Toshiko's training as a ninja, as observed by Madi. Later, he totally hits that.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Buckminster Fuller. This is apparently a trait he possessed in Real Life.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Faye turnes out to look really good in a nice dress.
- Shock and Awe: Cracklers, although they prefer to be called "Edisons."
- Shout-Out: When Sullivan stops to ask directions from an Imperium soldier: "English! Do you speak it?"
- Sky Pirate: The last piece of the Geo-Tel is protected by Southunder, who preys on Imperium ships in the Pacific ocean from his zeppelin.
- Super Fun Happy Thing of Doom: Tesla's "Peace Ray."
- Super Strength: Delilah, enough said.
- Technician Versus Performer: Zig-zagged; while Faye's natural talent lets her run circles around the well-trained Toshiko, Jake's greater power does not generally keep him from getting smacked around by the more skillful Madi.
- Teleport Spam: Any fight involving a Traveler such as Faye, Toshiko, Travelin' Joe, etc.
- The Dragon / The Heavy: Madi, to the Chairman.
- Training from Hell: Madi has this in his backstory. Presumably, the other Iron Guards did as well.
- Un-Equal Rites: There are two forms of magic in this world: the innate magic that people are born with, and magic that comes through drawn symbols (kanji). As it turns out, they have the same ultimate source.
- Walking the Earth: The Chairman's backstory includes a long period of doing this.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In the assault on OCI headquarters, Lance manages to hijack a Siberian tiger. Then everything goes to hell, almost literally. What happened to the tiger is never explained.
- Wicked Cultured: The Chairman. Madi tries to emulate his mentor in this, but fails miserably.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Chairman just wants humanity to be strong so we'll be able to fight The Enemy when it arrives. Harkeness curses the General in order to set up a Batman Gambit against the Chairman
- Worthy Opponent: The Chairman views Sullivan as this. The feeling isn't entirely mutual.
- You Fight Like a Cow: Faye (who grew up on a dairy farm) spends much of her fight with Toshiko tossing insults at the ninja.
- You Killed My Adoptive Grandfather: Why Faye joins the Grimnoir.
- Zeppelins from Another World: Kind of. Zeppelins play a large role in the story, but it takes place during a time when they really were used in Real Life, though not to the extent they are in the story. It's also justified, as Cracklers and Torches manage to alleviate many of the dangers of the technology.