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Blood Engines (Marla Mason #1)

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,591 Ratings  ·  235 Reviews
Meet Marla Mason–smart, saucy, slightly wicked witch of the East Coast.…

Sorcerer Marla Mason, small-time guardian of the city of Felport, has a big problem. A rival is preparing a powerful spell that could end Marla’s life–and, even worse, wreck her city. Marla’s only chance of survival is to boost her powers with the Cornerstone, a magical artifact hidden somewhere in San
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Spectra (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I have it on good authority that this series improves and a quick look at the ratings of the books that follow seems to confirm that. But honestly this book is a disaster. There is so much info-dumping that it goes from mildly annoying to funny and then back to annoying. The main character wanders off into the wilderness....well alternative dimensions and it serves absolutely zero purpose in the book.

Oh...I normally provide a brief synopsis of the story. Here it is.

The Flooze
Jun 05, 2011 The Flooze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to The Flooze by: The Holy Terror
Blood Engines is a swift-moving urban fantasy with a ruthlessly practical heroine and an absorbing plot.

I found the dialogue monotone at the beginning. This ceased being an issue around the genre-typical 60-page mark; presumably, it’s Pratt’s version of an opening info-dump. Once tackled, the characters’ personalities distinguish themselves.

Marla is a sharp, logical woman and a big believer in self-sufficiency without spells. She seemingly has a great deal of metaphysical talent, but her intim
Not even finished with chapter one: I have issues...with the execution, the dialogue, the characters, the world building (or lack of), the pacing, etc.

No description of what the main characters look like. Hardly any description at all. Phony dialouge. Too many "X said." (and that's it).

The heroine is ruthless (we get told this a lot) and powerful, except when she ignores people who might be a danger to her. She's not snarky, witty, or funny. Her not funny.

There's hint of a magic
Feb 02, 2008 Miriam rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People interested in a new take on the San Francisco tourist areas.
Shelves: unfinished, fantasy
I picked up this book because the cover and titles caught my interest. The blurb declared it was set in my hometown of San Francisco so I gave it a try. However, I must admit before continuing this review that I only read the first 60 pages or so. Other than some novel imagery (the old man with the gold frog in his mouth, for instance) it left me pretty flat. The main character, Marla, is supposed to be the sorcerous guardian of a city (not SF) who is traveling to investigate threats. But as far ...more
Alexander Páez
A mi TOP 5 de lecturas de 2013. Hacía tiempo que no disfrutaba tanto de una lectura. Probablemente no sea del gusto de muchos lectores, es fantasía urbana, y como tal, los personajes son anti-héroes, usan lenguaje soez... pero Pratt va mucho más allá y rompe muchísimos esquemas. Sus personajes son impresionantes y dotados de una personalidad apabullante. Desde hechiceras punks llenas de piercings y tatuajes y antropofagas, a pornomancers, biomancers, technomancers... Brutal lectura.
An interesting, imaginative plot with an unlikable heroine.

I bought this book because Kim Harrison, author of the wonderful Rachel-Morgan-Series, praised it to no end. She even said that she can relate to the heroine very well. Well... I can't. The plot is refreshing and more often unpredictable than not, but Marla Mason, cool but selfish, arrogant and brutal chief sorcerer of Felport, is someone I would not like to get to know. She saves her sidekick's life only because a seer prophesies that h
Mar 17, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of early Laurell K Hamilton
Marla Mason has a problem. She may be the most powerful sorcerer in her city, but she has only days until a rival deletes her from existance. She and her faithful sidekick Rondeau (actually a parasitic spirit riding a chance-met human) travel to San Francisco to use the Cornerstone, a block of incredibly powerful magic. Getting the Cornerstone will be difficult--suriving San Francisco may be impossible. Sorcerers, gods, and technomages stand in Marla's way, and a fanatical priest of Tlaltecuhtli ...more
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
I didn't like the characters and I hated the main character. I had absolutely no interest in or empathy for her. I started to like her sidekick but then more was revealed and he was a borderline sociopath. The story was somewhat unclear and surprisingly slow moving considering the reader is thrust into the story mid-action. Not happening for me.
Feb 22, 2009 Felicia rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-paranormal
This isn't vaginal fantasy so I can't put it on that shelf, dammit. :) It does have a main character that's a woman, which I liked a lot. This was rough around the edges and I struggled to stay with it, but I'm giving the next one a shot.
Yolanda Sfetsos
Sep 25, 2012 Yolanda Sfetsos rated it it was amazing
Shelves: urban-fantasy
The other day while looking through my PDFs, I found this book. I remember getting this copy a while ago and now that I have my Samsung Galaxy Note, I decided to check it out... and I was hooked instantly.

Marla Mason is a kick-ass sorcerer who runs the city of Felport. But someone wants her dead and the only way she can save herself is by going to San Francisco to find the Cornerstone, which is the only thing that will strengthen her counter spell.

So she finds herself in a place she doesn't even
Oct 09, 2008 Gail rated it liked it
This is the first book in the Marla Mason-Sorcerer series, and it feels like coming into the middle of a series. It's nice that these characters have backstory and history, makes them feel more real, gives them depth. But it does make you feel like you're coming in on the middle of something and you missed the opening pages. Marla is a sorcerer who is the guardian of a grubby east coast city. She's come to San Francisco to find a magical artifact because one of her rivals for running the city is ...more
Jun 19, 2010 Kasia rated it it was amazing
From time to time I adore a crackling, witty and totally enchanting urban fantasy. This was my first time reading this author, and he came highly recommended by Kim Harrison on various sites so I knew it had to be good, she's one of my all time favorite authors and her word counts. The book delivers on many levels; its wild, colorful, crazy things are happening non stop, it has magic but best of all it has sorcerers that spew out sarcastic and hilarious dialogue that had me hopping through the b ...more
Jan 23, 2010 Geoffrey rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure I was going to like this book when I first started reading it. I picked it up months ago as a kindle freebie and it sat in my to-be-read pile for some time. I started reading it on a whim the other day and was initially concerned about the opening, gritty, rough-edged scene in a dirty alley. Not my cup of tea.

But I continued reading. Next thing I knew, I was sucked in completely. This novel is still gritty and dirty and rough but it is also highly entertaining well-written and crea
Oh, I like Marla. Practical, realist heroines are always going to be my favorite. Marla is also an older woman, already experienced in her own powers. This is something new too; usually they are young and green.

A snippet of my favorite scene:
[Marla is infiltrating a sex party in search of the ~pornomancer~. She is followed.]

"My name’s Jared,” he said. “I want you to whip me.”

“As much as I’d like to see you whipped,” Marla said, “I’m busy.”

[after she is unsuccessful at getting rid of him]

She too
Oct 07, 2015 Vivian rated it liked it
Blood Engines is the first in a series about sorcerer Marla Mason, she is practical, self-preserving, and not above using others for her own benefit. This story is a race against time, another sorcerer is putting together a spell to take out Marla and she needs to locate a magical Cornerstone in order to survive. She and her sidekick travels to San Francisco to find the item just as someone is killing off powerful sorcerers in the city and they get tangled in all sorts of situations with gods, f ...more
Jul 15, 2014 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy, ghosts
solid new female urban fantasy protagonist.

Marla is a bad ass, partially because she wants to/has to be not because she's terribly gifted or anything but she's got the willpower to back her attitude. As the sorceress in charge of Felport she's a pretty heavy hitter in the magical world, and she's got her city on lock. She likes that it's grimy, and urban and a bit dangerous, she really wouldnt have it any other way. But there is a rival in town who would like to take over and perhaps spiff up t
Antonio Diaz
Dec 08, 2014 Antonio Diaz rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-owned
No soy nada aficionado a la fantasía urbana en general, porque tiende a mezclarse con el Young-Adult americano o la mal llamada dark fantasy (también conocida como fantasía [urbana] erótica). Aunque he leído esos dos subgéneros, he de reconocer que no son plato de mi gusto (con contadas excepciones). Sin embargo, Blood Engines, aunque tiene un componente sexual marginal, no es ni mucho menos el centro de la historia. Y desde luego no es una novela para adolescentes (es profusa en lenguaje soez y ...more
May 18, 2011 Sunhi rated it liked it
Let's just get this out of the way, Marla is one bitchy but boss heroine. The whole book is filled with a ton of witches and wizards who are scary, strange, and unique. I've certainly never come across a witch who gathers her magic by using a train going in an endless loop. (Loved that.) More than most books called urban fantasy, this felt both urban and strange and weird, but in a good way. Even magical archetypes that appear in other series come across a little better in this book (the witch w ...more
Jul 12, 2013 chucklesthescot rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, uf-pnr, abandoned
Marla is a powerful witch with an enemy that wants her dead. To survive she needs a magical object that will boost her powers. Most of the magical community who could help her to locate it are dead or missing at the hands of something powerful. Time is running out for Marla.

So Susan wants to kill Marla huh? Well based on my brief dealings with Marla, I was hoping that Susan would be successful. Marla is everything I don't want in my so called heroine. She is obnoxious and rude to everyone, treat
Shaun Duke
Jan 09, 2009 Shaun Duke rated it liked it
Blood Engines is a gritty, urban fantasy tale that doesn't pull any punches. That's how I would describe it, at least. It follows a sorcerer named Marla Mason, the guardian of a city called Felport, and her companion Rondeau, a spirit-in-a-bottle, if you will, who has, in the past, stolen the body of someone else. Marla has a big problem: one of her rivals is prepping a wicked spell that will end Marla's life and destroy Felport in the process. And Marla can't have any of that. Marla and Rondeau ...more
Mar 29, 2016 Lexie rated it really liked it
Its easy to say that I enjoyed this book. I loved it actually. Marla is the sort of person I would hope to be if in her position, perhaps not her backstory so much (good lord does she know how to clear a room), but then you are the sum of your life experiences, so if she didn't have all of that luggage she wouldn't be who she is right? Or maybe that's an argument for the nurture vs. environment folks. All I know is that Marla was one kick-ass lady that I would be scared to meet under any circums ...more
Feb 12, 2013 Naree rated it liked it
This was a weird one. All the way through I was irritated by the lack of depth the characters seemed to show but every now and again there was a taste of something more to Marla, though it didn't stop me thinking of her as horrendously hypocritical. She will go on and on about how she kills without remorse but then mention in passing one of her enemies being despicable for having no morals. The cloak was a good example; she tells of how she kills, uses and controls people for her own ends and th ...more
Xenophon Hendrix
Jul 16, 2010 Xenophon Hendrix rated it it was ok
I went and judged a book by its cover. You see, Blood Engines by T. A. Pratt (also published as Tim Pratt) has a cover by Daniel Dos Santos. Dan Dos Santos is the top, or almost the top, cover illustrator still actually working in the science fiction and fantasy field. (The great Michael Whelan is still alive, but he has moved on to fine art.) I reasoned that if Bantam was willing to spring for a Dos Santos cover, then they must expect great things from Blood Engines.

Well, the novel isn't bad. I
Jul 30, 2009 Michael rated it liked it
Let me start off by saying this: Blood Engines is basically fluff. It is fast-paced, funny, hard-to-put-down . . . it's GOOD fluff.

I haven't read much urban fantasy, partially because so much of it looks like shite. But, I'd seen the books in the Marla Mason series around and found the cover art compelling. And, Pratt's agent is an agent I've sent a query to, so I thought I should give one of her authors a shot.

The idea is this: Marla Mason is a bad-ass sorceress who runs a city called. . . we
The one where Marla, the head sorceress of the city of Felport, comes to San Francisco in search of an artifact to save her from a rival, but winds up getting pulled into some sort of mystery involving poison arrow frogs.

Abandoned after sixty pages.

I was bothered by the tell-y-ness of it, and the fact that nothing really happened other than people walking around and talking, and the great clumsiness with which the copious exposition was provided -- I kept thinking it was a sequel to something,
Dec 04, 2010 Lightreads rated it liked it
Hrm. I’m about to say a bunch of positive-sounding things about this book that cumulatively did not actually manage to make me like it much. It’s an urban fantasy quest story set in San Francisco, a city I am quite fond of, and it has wiz-bang worldbuilding. Seriously, the richness of the uncountable magic systems is really something. The book also has a very casual approach to sexuality and kink that is almost entirely nonjudgey or exploitative. Oh, and the female lead – she’s not a heroine – i ...more
excerpt from detailed review here:

This series is a refreshing look at magic that is tied to the contemporary world and its technologies. The characters are well fleshed-out in their motivations and controversial tastes through an open-minded main character, introducing marginal world-views without bastardizing them. Overall an exciting and thought-provoking read with fast-paced action and a no-nonsense anti-heroine leading the charge.
Disclaimer: I've been marathoning this series, so some impressions may be flawed, and this review a little weak.

Blood Engines is the gritty, unpolished start of a gritty, unpolished character. It's billed as urban fantasy, but that usually means ‘strong female character engages in violence while being conflicted with a sexytime b-story’. There's none of that here. This is Contemporary Fantasy in an Urban Setting. There is very little romance here.

The story follows Marla Mason, professional Angry
Eduardo Domínguez
May 20, 2015 Eduardo Domínguez rated it really liked it
It was definitly what I was looking for (a female Dresden) aka fast, interesting magic concepts, and people DOING stuff all the time. Page turner and will give the rest of the series a try. Scenes are very provocatory (?), the dharacter options and opinions feel real, they have depth without getting too heavy and they're flawed but not enough they get their awesome stuff.

Note tho: Do not read this is you dislike homosexual, erotic or BDSM themes. I personally had no problems with
Fantasy Literature
Sep 04, 2014 Fantasy Literature rated it really liked it
On the surface, Blood Engines seems like any number of urban fantasy novels out there. Strong leading heroine? Check. Contemporary backdrop? Check. Supernatural action, sex, and sarcastic humor? Check, check, check.

Yet, Blood Engines has more going for it than you might think. For instance, in most of the urban fantasy series that I’ve read, the opening volume usually spends a lot of time on set-up and ends up leaving the reader with more questions than answers. Not so in Blood Engines, which is
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T.A. Pratt is the pseudonym of Tim Pratt, under which he penned the Marla Mason books.

I've crowdfunded seven projects (four through Kickstarter) successfully in the past few years, and I don't foresee any problems with this one, either. I write novels for a living, and this is a book I'm excited to do. It's always possible there will be bumps and delays on the production process, or an unforeseen
More about T.A. Pratt...

Other Books in the Series

Marla Mason (9 books)
  • Poison Sleep (Marla Mason, #2)
  • Dead Reign (Marla Mason, #3)
  • Spell Games (Marla Mason, #4)
  • Broken Mirrors (Marla Mason, #5)
  • Grim Tides (Marla Mason, #6)
  • Bride of Death (Marla Mason, #7)
  • Lady of Misrule (Marla Mason, #8)
  • Queen of Nothing (Marla Mason, #9)

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“But you know me-I'm an information magpie, always interested in shiny bits of intel. I've never gotten in trouble because of knowing too much.” 18 likes
“After several stops, and a dark journey through the tunnel under the bay, B stood up and said, “This is it.” They stepped off the train and took an escalator up a level, into a domed area, and then exited the train station. As always when Marla emerged from an underground space into the light, she felt a sense of new possibilities, as if she’d returned from the underworld and brought back secrets. There was power even in symbolic journeys.” 2 likes
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