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Trickster (The Ustari Cycle)
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(The Ustari Cycle #1 - modified version)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  307 ratings  ·  68 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
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Pocket Books
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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
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Yair Ben-Zvi
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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
Feb 08, 2017 marked it as dnf
Shelves: arc
I remember I tried to read this when I first downloaded the ARC, but the language really turned me away.

It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't a "Lyn Book."

No Rating/DNF
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The beginning of an amazing, gritty noir with remarkably likable low-lifes.
Dec 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Fangs for the Fantasy
Feb 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
(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
Christal (Badass Book Reviews)
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
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ornella (Nyx)
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
Douglas Meeks
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
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
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 marked it as didnt-finish  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scott Rhine
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
M Hamed
Feb 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018, urban-fantasy
Disoriented, unfocused and disorganized
Like a roofied college girl
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've got to start with the obvious, the cover art for Trickster is, imho, atrocious. Shallow, I know, but it does the book no favours whatsoever, and makes it look so very YA that this isn't one I could read at work without ridicule. Sulky emo teens and a muscle man? Not something you'd expect to see a serious Fantasy reader curled up with. The daft thing is that it's such a surprisingly good read that I can't help but wonder why it didn't get some proper cover love. Maybe that's how it goes wit ...more
Feb 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Mon avis en Français

My English review

I was curious to read this novel when I discovered the cover. I did not really understand that Lem was a man, so it took me a moment to realize that in my reading. It was actually pretty funny to follow this wizard throughout the novel. I mostly used to read stories featuring women, or those where they always have a prominent place. This is not the case here. It is true that Claire is an important character in the story but she is still very much in the
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was the first book I picked up in a (delightful) slew of neo-noir novels, and perhaps my favorite thing about it is something that's lacking from many of the urban fantasy novels I've read: in this world, the magic has consequences.

In Trickster, all magic is blood magic, and how much blood you use directly determines the power available for every spell. The main character, Lem, is a Trickster - the novel's parlance essentially for a magical grifter. A low-level talent with just enough abili
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I can’t get enough of urban fantasy worlds.

There’s something about that intersection of our everyday mundane existence and that extra, fantastic reality just on the edge of perception that just gets me. In each new book in this genre, the edges of reality are peeled away just a bit to uncover that something extra amid plot and mystery and compelling characters.

In this, Trickster doesn’t disappoint.

In Trickster’s world, shedding blood powers magic, and the only rule is anything goes as long if yo
Pop Bop
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
"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
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Trickster is dark, brutal, gritty, and not for everyone. That said if you’re willing or able to look past these qualities then I say give it a shot.

At first Trickster was to much for me. The system of magic is a neat combination of language puzzles that are fueled by blood. It doesn’t matter who’s but from the way the story goes, it comes a lot from junkies, prostitutes, and people will to bleed themselves for a life of riches. The aspect that makes the protagonist, Lem, different from everyone
JJ DeBenedictis
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dr. Barrett  Dylan Brown, Phd
Wow! Well, Mr. Somers, I am very glad to say that you have, however temporarily, REDEEMED YOURSELF!!! <33. I was so in absolute Thrall/Love with your Kates Series, best Fiction I had read in _years_, and best Contemporary Fiction ( Besides Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, and Iain M. Banks, of course ) I have possibly ever read. But you crapped all over it, starting in book four and crapulently crapping out in crap five. I was saddened. Did Mr. Somers get drunk of his own Success? I just didn ...more
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Jeff Somers ( began writing by court order as an attempt to steer his creative impulses away from engineering genetic grotesqueries. He has published nine novels, including the Avery Cates Series of noir-science fiction novels from Orbit Books ( and the Ustari Cycle series of urban fantasy novels. His short story “Ringing the Changes” was selected for incl ...more

Other books in the series

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