The Flooze's Reviews > Blood Engines

Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt
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's review
Feb 03, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: owned, urban-fantasy-paranormal, vanquished_2011
Recommended to The Flooze by: Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror)
Read from June 04 to 05, 2011

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 intimidating persona relies heavily on her ability (and willingness) to physically take down her enemies. She’s not a cut and dry Good Guy: “Marla in person wasn’t easy to idolize - she was too earthy, too cranky, and too prone to practicalities.” As ruling sorcerer of her own city of Felport, she’s more of a Big Picture person, quickly weighing all options and using every tool at her disposal to bring about her conception of the greater good. Fortunately, she feels a deep-seated responsibility and sentimentality towards her hometown - her methods might be seen as too callous otherwise.

Pratt doesn’t introduce Marla on her own ground, however. Instead, we meet her on the streets of San Francisco as she searches for a magical artifact. The choice is an interesting one, allowing us to learn about Marla the Person as opposed to Marla the Leader. We get a taste of her ruthlessness, but we also discover she doesn’t shy away from problems that aren’t immediately her own.

As she becomes fully entrenched in the threat facing San Francisco, Marla calls on a variety of resident sorcerers. This was my favorite aspect of Pratt’s world-building. Pornomancers, technomancers, biomancers and fabricators each bring their own twist to how magic can be harnessed. Their methods are as individual as their personalities, opening up a wealth of possibility for magic’s use in future installments.

There are other characters in play - sidekicks of a sort. The first is Rondeau, Marla’s right-hand man for this mission. Though here he seems little more than a sounding board and a means of drawing out Marla’s personality, his complicated yet vague background hints at potential storylines. I look forward to digging deeper into his identity. The other cohort is B, a seer whose point of view is used to great effect. He straddles the line between the magical and mundane, often acting as the voice of the reader in his confusion and concern. Though the solutions he provides sometimes border on the convenient, he’s a likable, steady character and I wouldn’t mind following him on a separate adventure. It’s a good sign when a secondary is so intriguing as to spark the desire for a spin-off.

Blood Engines can rightfully be labeled gritty. Marla is a brute force type, unapologetic in her methods, and the story includes its fair share of casualties and questionable morality (a cannibalistic character comes to mind). But that’s what made me enjoy it. Pratt’s assertion that the world encompasses countless predilections grants his universe a realism that many authors shy away from. He’s dedicated to the idea that anything is possible in this harsh existence. I think the series will be all the better for it.
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Reading Progress

16.0% "The plot isn't bad and I like the full immersion, but Rondeau and Marla are practically indistinguishable in voice. The whole thing is strangely monotone in delivery."
24.0% "“It’s been a long time,” she said, “but let’s see if I can still write my name in somebody’s ass.” She let the whip fly." 2 comments
58.0% ""Okay, frog-boy," Marla said. "Keep underestimating me. It’s a recipe for hilarious results.""

Comments (showing 1-10)

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message 10: by new_user (new) - added it

new_user That was fast!

The Flooze UGH this saving comments issue! It's driving me nuts.

It's good - Shannon called a winner! It flew by after the initial info-dump (diguised as conversation).

Very gritty and Marla is an intense character. She's unusually distanced when it comes to individuals - much more of a Greater Good player. Ruthless, but she does have moments of regret for the way things have to be handled, paired with genuine hope for certain people to do well. Saves her from being a total megalomaniac!

message 8: by Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) (last edited Jun 05, 2011 05:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Yaaaay! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I don't normally Like recommending books because I know how weird my taste can be, but I just knew you two would like Marla. She's a fantastic character. The next book is even a bit wilder, where the magic is concerned. Such a great series, I wish he'd write more!

The Flooze His blog says that since he considers self-publishing financially worth it for this series, he might release a sixth next year. Have you read the fifth yet? It was serialized online and is available as an e-book - I know that's a big no-no for you...

The Flooze His blog says that since he considers self-publishing financially worth it for this series, he might release a sixth next year. Have you read the fifth yet? It was serialized online and is available as an e-book - I know that's a big no-no for you...

message 5: by new_user (new) - added it

new_user Hey, if you see my comments in duplicate somewhere, let me know, LOL. I wonder if Marla will be too unsympathetic for me?

Chichipio Her ruthlessness was what made me like the series in the first place. I think this aspect is well maintained through the sequels, which isn't common; most writers turn their characters into selfless heroes the first chance they get. In time, Marla grows as a person and starts caring about people a little more, but she never loses sight of her priorities. That was refreshing.

Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) I actually haven't read the third or the fourth yet .... so, no, haven't read the fifth ebook either! I keep hoping it's going to get printed, but if not, I will make an exception and read it in ebook form. Marla's worth it.

The Flooze I think it is available in print? The fifth. Check his site.

Grr. I just tried to delete that dupe - no dice. I'll have to do it from my computer instead of my mob.

She's not unsympathetic, NU, as much as she's in full leader mode. That whole Greater Good thing we were saying in terms of Ethan. She respects/feels sympathy for certain people and does what she can for them, but she knows how to prioritize. Sometimes alleviating individual strife has to be back-burnered in favor of saving the world!

I'm actually happy to hear she doesn't get mushyfied because I think her ability to focus on the major task is a plus for this character.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks for the review, Michelle. I have the first two books in this series. It sounds like I will like it.

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