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Blood Engines (Marla Mason #1)

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  2,913 Ratings  ·  248 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
ebook, 370 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Spectra (first published January 1st 2007)
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Steven Underwood The protagonist and supporting character are both described as sexually fluid in a way that is actually accurate to a sexual orientation rather than…moreThe protagonist and supporting character are both described as sexually fluid in a way that is actually accurate to a sexual orientation rather than being a manifestation of fetishization. The author is very aware of tropes and the deeper you get into the series, the more you notice precise subversions of these tropes that fit the narrative.(less)
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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
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to The Flooze by: Shannon
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
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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.
Mar 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
Samantha wickedshizuku Tolleson
Fairly entertaining. I enjoyed the dialogue between the characters and appreciated the author's approach to romantic encounters.
Mar 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Yolanda Sfetsos
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: time-travel
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
Apr 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reread 08/22/16 3.5 stars

It was aight. It could have been 4 stars except that I won't know if Marla had any character development until I read the next book. Which I will do, since I assume I liked it since I've already read to book four.
Shaun Duke
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
Quick thoughts: I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. Solid overall, but with noticeable flaws. Significant (so far unrealized) potential.

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
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
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
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller

I have read so many urban fantasy books that, after a while, they all start to sound the same. This was not the case for “Blood Engines.” It was an incredibly unique novel, with a great mix of of fantasy, mystery, and just a touch of romance. Although a good deal of Pratt’s works are on the bizarre side, I have to give him major kudos for originality. His perspective is refreshing, and he combines that with interesting plot-lines: As the guardian for the city of Felport (in
Xenophon Hendrix
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
Antonio Diaz
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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,
Feb 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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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 (10 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)
  • Closing Doors (Marla Mason, #10)

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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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