I finished reading volume 2 of the Grimnoir Chronicles last night, and I definitely liked this one even better than the first! Perhaps I’m simply more invested in the characters after two novels; but I do feel that the Grimnoir world has become more complex after this installment. The different political factions and how they pursue their goals are certainly fascinating! I much prefer that style of plot-building to the kind where the Bad Guy is the bad guy “just because” – he’s an evil psycho, or whatever. That generally means that the antagonists get no character development whatsoever, which is irritating because that’s not generally how conflict in the real world works. (There is an evil dude who gets very satisfactorily stomped, though, so thumbs up! No “middle novel of a trilogy” lack of resolution here, though of course the overarching series plot continues.)
I’m also liking one of the main protagonists, Faye, much more after this novel. I wasn’t sure how I felt about her character at first, but I got the impression that Hard Magic was mostly about Sullivan – Faye was in Hard Magic as well, of course, and played a significant role, but it wasn’t about her. Spellbound, on the other hand, is mostly Faye’s story, although Sullivan’s story does progress as well so it’s well-balanced. (Not like what I’ve heard about some OTHER Hugo nominee… which I am definitely procrastinating reading!)
I’m looking forward to the third volume, which is the actual nominee – with a title like Warbound, I expect it to focus more on Sullivan. Larry Correia seems to balance competing story threads well in this series, so it will be interesting to see how he handles Sullivan and Faye’s storylines now that they’re completely separate geographically!
Of course, it’s amusing that in this novel, the International Lord of Hate includes heroic actions by (a) a black man and (b) a bisexual woman, as well as characters who disdain the 1930s discrimination against “colored folks.” But I guess since he doesn’t have a steamy orgy sex scene including those two characters, it doesn’t count! /sarc