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Trickster (The Ustari Cycle #1 - modified version)

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  275 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Praised by the Guardian for stories that are “exhilarating . . . powerful and entertaining,” Jeff Somers returns with a darkly original urban fantasy series featuring a cadre of mages operating just under the radar of human society.

Magic uses blood—a lot of it. The more that’s used, the more powerful the effect, so mages find “volunteers” to fuel their spells. Lem, howeve
ebook, 384 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Pocket Books
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Best books of February, 2013
12th out of 116 books — 526 voters
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On My February 2013 List
22nd out of 23 books — 9 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,199)
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Anzu The Great Destroyer
We were not good people.

Trickster should be turned into a movie, and Tom Hiddleston should play Lem.

I really liked this book. At first I thought I will end up DNFing it because the start was rather strange, and I thought it wouldn’t be my kind of book. But after a while, as I read on, I started to care about the characters and the story didn’t bother me anymore. On the contrary, it became extremely interesting. The characters are the strong point of Trickster. Their complexity makes them fee
All Things Urban Fantasy
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

TRICKSTER is a book that has restored my faith in the urban fantasy genre as a whole. Jeff Somers has created a wholly original world that, even with magic, feels incredibly real.

The book centers around Lem – one of the world’s blood mages. And, yep, blood mages are exactly what they sound like. In this world there are two types of mages – those who use bleeders and those who supply their own blood for their magics. Lem is one of the latter.

The title co
Experiment BL626
For a book that has blood magic, human sacrifices, and explosion scenes, it was not highly exciting as I had expected. A book of master storytelling as blurbed it was not.

The story largely consisted of the good guys running away, from one place to another that made me think poorly of the characters and flashbacks that were so seamlessly written that it took me a few seconds to realize a few of them were flashbacks. The book kept my attention, but it was under a fog of boredom.

The Characters

+ th
Cat Russell  (Addicted2Heroines)
Somers' urban fantasy debut is dark, gritty and suspenseful. The world he has created is filled with dirty magic fueled by blood. Those who can wield this magic, whether they're lowly Tricksters or high Archmages, all use it for their own selfish needs, caring little about the lives that are affected.

Lem is a Trickster who uses his magic for simple cons. He can make one dollar bills appear to be twenties or charm people into becoming more agreeable. But Lem refuses to use other people's blood to
Yair Ben-Zvi
Years ago I was working an awful job at a supermarket the summer before I went off to college. While there, and while working, I read a lot. Partly to distract from my less than stellar days, and partly because I loved to read. Two of those books which, among others, I dusted off during breaks and deli lunches (I remember I was eating a lot of deli food at the time) were the first two books in Jeff Somers' "Avery Cates" cycle. The Electric Church and The Digital Plague.

While the plots were noth
Douglas Meeks
Feb 09, 2013 Douglas Meeks rated it liked it
What do you say about a novel that was gritty, well told, hooked you into the story with characters you were not really sure you even liked? This is Trickster by Jeff Somers.

The book starts slow and gritty, the characters border on disgusting and pathetic. Then miraculously the story gets better, the characters get a bit of personality and you are reading for the big ending. You got it all the big "evil thing" , the girl, the heroic sacrifice, impossible odds, tragedy ..... I mean , what could g
Fangs for the Fantasy
Lem is a trickster, which means that he uses his own blood to perform magic. This usually amounts to conning the non magical around him. He is always looking for the next big score but when he follows up on a tip, Lem ends up on the magical radar of an archmage, who is far more powerful than him. Suddenly, Lem finds himself in way over his head. The archmage is planning a massive spell for which much blood must be spilled but Lem's interference, which led to the escape of Claire, one of the int ...more
Feb 17, 2013 Lindie rated it really liked it
Trickster follows two down on their luck minor magicians, Lem, who has a lot of potential but doesn't believe in stealing "gas" from others, and his "nonbreeding lifepartner" Mags. The two met in their late teens when Lem apprenticed and the giant, slow-witted Mags imprinted on him like a baby duck and started following him everywhere. Including out into the streets where the two of them owned only the clothes on their backs and have to resort to glamour and charm just to stay alive.

Enter the d
Feb 26, 2013 Deniz rated it liked it
Shelves: paranormal
For a book that promises lots of action and is full of this much bloodshed the first half was surprisingly slow going! I found it really hard to get into the book actually. The second half- once it was all set up and the action was unraveling was more fun to read. This is one of these books that left me totally divided- some parts are awesome, others just meh!

The story line while definitely interesting, was also quite predictable.
I didn't really mind that actually. It's in many ways your classi
Ornella (Nyx)
Feb 25, 2013 Ornella (Nyx) rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs, urban-fantasy
This was definitely an interesting read if nothing else. The use of blood magic and using bleeders isn't exactly new but Somers used it well.

Our main character is a guy, which was a nice change of pace from all those 'kick-ass chicks' out there. I liked his quick thinking and taking action. He always had something to use or do. He always had at least one next step. He has morals as well which of course come to bite him in the ass and has to finally bend a little to really do anything. He is tale
Feb 01, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Pocket Books and Edelweiss.)
Lem is a trickster – someone who uses blood to perform magic. Lem’s magic is pretty basic – making dollar bills appear to be larger bills, and cheating at cards. He does have limits though, while others use other peoples blood – bleeders, to fuel their magic, Lem will only use his own, which often leaves him woozy, and limits how much magic he can do.

One day Lem and his best
See this mini review and others like it at!

Jeff Somers created a very unique world full of blood magic in Trickster, but I had issues with the pacing of the story. The beginning of the novel is filled to the brim with world-building. It is almost all necessary because Mr. Somers world is intricately crafted, but it does drag the flow of the action down and delays the readers’ entry into the actual meat of the story. Once we learn the history behind the world of the idimusta
Ms. Nikki
Blood, Words, and Power

In it lies power.
A power untold.
Words do wonders.
Which ones are wove?
With a blade or knife I nick.
Extinguishing life in a flick.
More blood bled, stronger indeed.
More bodies will fall before I succeed.
There is power, then there is greed.
I need.
I need.
To Bleed.

by Nikki

These characters were losers, bottom of the totem pole, down and out magic users. I'm all for blood magic, cussing, and all sorts of nasty things, but when you can't connect with the main characters, something
Melanie R Meadors
Sep 29, 2013 Melanie R Meadors rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From page 1, you can tell this is a Jeff Somers novel. And no, that is in no way--for me, anyway--a bad thing. I love Jeff's voice, and the voices of his characters. This is a gritty, fun, kickass read, reminiscent of the feeling of Somers's Avery Cates series, but definitely not a repeat. Everything in this book seemed to work together: the setting, the magic, the language, the characters were all very consistent to create a world I was instantly drawn into. The setting details especially broug ...more
Nov 03, 2012 Elena marked it as didnt-finish
I didn't finish this one. The writing was pretty good, but I stopped after three chapters when I realized that though we had already encountered a TON of characters, only four of them were female and they were, respectively: a naked dead girl in a bathtub, a hungover bartender who doesn't even get a line, a random poker player extra who likewise doesn't get any lines, and a naked girl tied up in the trunk of a car. There were also a few prostitutes wandering around, but they were mostly scenery ...more
JJ DeBenedictis
Oct 29, 2014 JJ DeBenedictis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yum! I polished this book off in one sitting because it was just that tasty. I've read some of Jeff Somers Avery Cates books, and while I thought the writing there was very strong and the characters delightfully insane (and profane), the stories were a bit too free-form to suit my tastes.

In this book, Somers has switched from science fiction to fantasy, and the story is much more easily pigeon-holed -- this book is a straight-up urban fantasy. Some readers might find that step back from the fri
Sheldon Wiebe
Jul 23, 2014 Sheldon Wiebe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just as he did with cyberpunk (in the exquisite, if deeply dark and disturbed Avery Cates series), Jeff Somers creates a dark a twisty world of magic in his urban fantasy, Trickster.

The idea is that magic can only be performed through shedding (burning) blood. The more blood you have to work with, the greater the magic you can create.

Wars and epic tragedies have been created to provide blood for magic of catastrophic proportions, so Lem Vonnegan, our protagonists is being surprisingly even-hande
Pop Bop
Jun 02, 2014 Pop Bop rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Of Mice and Men" Meets Magic, and it's a Gas

This is a sneaky book and it doesn't really amp up until a quarter of the way through. Allow me to explain.

Our two heroes are Lem and Mags, two small time Tricksters. Lem is George to hulking slow witted Mags' Lenny. They just get by on small time magics, (glamouring ones into twenties), because real magic takes blood, (the "gas" that fuels the magical spells), and Lem has a hard and fast rule to never use any blood for magic except his own blood.

We f
Stephen Dorneman
Nov 28, 2014 Stephen Dorneman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This gritty urban fantasy, almost urban fantasy noire, isn't perfect. The ending in particular has problems, with too many unresolved threads (main and major characters leaving the scene without a word, unclear resolutions of all the bad guys and artifacts, misuse of what could have been interesting characters for no good reason) - far more than can or should be explained by sequel-setting alone. But the writing is smart, the plot is truly a page-turner, and if I'm frustrated by what did or didn ...more
Apr 08, 2016 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
The problem with this book is that there's a lot of interesting worldbuilding but the characters just fall SO flat. Mags and Claire are one-dimensional at best and Lem's ping-pong morality drove me nuts. Early in the book, Lem's very insistent that he's only going to perform magic (which needs blood to be done) with his own blood...despite the fact that Mags willingly offers Lem to use his blood multiple times. Plot Happens and by the second half of the book, Lem's perfectly fine using other peo ...more
Invested Ivana
Trickster is a pretty good read. The magic system and magic culture are fairly different and fresh, the world is gritty, the primarily relationship is between two male friends. The opening chapter left me confused and wondering what I missed, but most of it was explained pretty quickly. The story seems to move fast without a lot of exposition; the reader has to figure some things out through context. I think the only reason I'm rating it a 3 rather than a 4 is because it did move so fast and did ...more
Henry Lazarus
Jeff Somers tells us that magic is quite real, and requires blood. Powerful magicians sacrifice many for powerful workings. Lem has never risen above the level of Trickster (paper from Pocket) because he cannot bring himself to use any blood but his own. He and his not-so-bright friend Mags survive by using small magic to steal from normals and cheat at cards. Then an accident leads them to Claire bound and gagged and covered in runes. She is apparently part of a whole set of women who are part ...more
Danette Somers
Apr 02, 2013 Danette Somers rated it it was amazing
Aug 25, 2015 Suzy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! At first I wasn't sure, but then suddenly the story just grabbed me and took me on a wild ride that simply got faster and more exciting as we went along. I began to really care about the characters who were well developed and believable, The writing is good, the story is gritty and dangerous and you can feel the fear and tension as the characters feel it. Blood and magic, con men and human Gods. Lem is a Trickster, a magic worker who does lower level magic, using small cons an ...more
Apr 22, 2015 Gary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd never heard of Jeff Somers before and received this book as a freebie with a purchase during local San Diego bookstore Mysterious Galaxy's annual birthday celebration. I seldom read much so-called Urban Fantasy, but despite that I quite enjoyed it, the magic-fueled-by-blood narrative device is interesting and the characters are engaging enough for me to want to read more about them. The manner in which the author changes scenes is occasionally jarring but this is a minor quibble and overall ...more
Mar 11, 2014 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In today’s world there are lots of movies, like at least four, and thousands upon thousands of books and comics. So this brings up a big issue – what do I read and/or watch?

Simple answers: Homeland and Brooklyn Nine-Nine while reading Game of Thrones.

But if you want to break away from what you’ve already read and watched, and want to dive into something new, that’s where our skills (having way too much time on your hand is a skill) come in. We have searched the depths of the interwebs and bookst
Mar 01, 2013 Leeanna rated it liked it
Shelves: for-review, e-book
Lem and Mags are not your usual all powerful, masters of the universe type of magicians. They’re Tricksters, grifters, the lowest of the low. They scrape by, gasing up dollar bills to look like twenties, and spending those twenties on booze and cheap hotel rooms. In the world Jeff Somers created, blood is the currency for magic, and unlike others, Lem made a vow to use only his own blood.

“We were fucking incompetent. In all things, we’d failed. We were wallowing in a nice, comfy pit of fucking
Mar 16, 2013 Sheridan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 out of 5 stars.

The skinny: Magic is fueled by blood, and most mages will use anyone's blood, willing or not. Lem has committed to using only his own blood, and he's just barely getting by on it. When he finds a girl in the trunk of a car who's marked for sacrifice, he decides to save her -- and ends up fighting against the darkest blood magic the world has ever known.

What I liked: A lot! An interesting and endearing main character, a dark, unique fantasy world, fantastic writing and good pac
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

Trickster introduces a new dark and gritty urban fantasy series by Jeff Somers featuring Lem, a low level blood mage. A member of the Idimustari he scrapes by using his talent to fleece the 'normals' with a handful of illusions, refusing to enhance his power by using the blood of others.

Somers' world building is intricate and original. He takes his time establishing the boundaries of his lore and the limitations of magical system. There are just two rules of blood magic, the Rule of Perception a
Lauren Stoolfire
In the Trickster universe magic is very real and it is powered by blood, lots and lots of blood. That is if you want to be a great magician, but Lem is a trickster, the lowest level of magician, by choice and more than happy to use his own blood. Then he gets in the way of one of the most powerful magician's spells which will bathe the world in blood to make her dream of immortality real.

Trickster is a well-written dark and gritty urban-fantasy. The magic system is well developed and I would be
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Jeff Somers ( began writing by court order as an attempt to steer his creative impulses away from engineering genetic grotesqueries. His feeble memory makes every day a joyous adventure of discovery and adventure even as it destroys personal relationships, and his weakness for adorable furry creatures leaves him with many cats. He has published nine novels, including the Aver ...more
More about Jeff Somers...

Other Books in the Series

The Ustari Cycle (1 books)
  • We Are Not Good People (The Ustari Cycle #1)

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