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Blood Engines Mass Market Paperback – 25 Sep 2007


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; Reissue edition (25 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553589989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553589986
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.4 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 398,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Naomi Clark on 15 Oct. 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sometimes you get to the end of a book and wish you could read it again for the first time, and rediscover every fascinating, brilliant aspect all over again. Blood Engines is most definitely one of those books.

Marla Mason, chief sorcerer of the city of Felport, is in San Francisco looking for an object to save her life. A rival back home is planning to wipe Marla out of existence and she only has one chance to stop that happening. Unfortunately, San Francisco isn't so welcoming to Marla, and between the pornomancers, cannibals and poisonous frogs, her simple quest is turning into a total nightmare.

There's so much going on in this book, it's hard to know where to start. Silicon mages, ancient Aztec gods and body-switching Chinese sorcerers are among the highlights, but it's also worth mentioning Marla's trip through time to see alternate San Franciscos, and I'm bigging up the cannibal again, because that was my favourite chapter.

Marla herself is a delight - not your average angst heroine, nor a "man with boobs" type. She's ruthlessly practical, acidicly witty and refreshingly down-to-earth. Whether she's carving her name in a guy's butt with a whip, or negotiating for her life with a snake-god, she's a joy to follow.

Blood Engines is unlike anything else on the urban fantasy scene at the moment, more in line with Ilona Andrew's Magic Bites than, say, LKH or Kim Harrison. It's inventive, clever, funny and nail-chewingly tense, and I will be reading it again and again while I wait for the sequel.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lesley70 on 3 Feb. 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sorcerer Marla Manson is in San Francisco with her companion Rondeau, looking for a magical artefact that could save her life. Back in her hometown of Felport, a rival for her position as guardian of the city, is preparing a spell that could destroy her. Unfortunately the sorcerer who had the artefact has just been murdered. He's only the first victim, and it soon becomes clear that if Marla wants to save herself, she's going to have to save San Francisco and the rest of the world first.

First the stuff I had problems with. The beginning is rather like being hit over the head with a mallet. It's very 'tell the reader what's going on by having two characters talk about a situation they're already aware of'. This info-dumpy style pops up throughout the story. Though it does become less intrusive.

I loved the actual adventuring in San Francisco but found the whole reason for being there, to be weak. Causing me at several points in the story (whenever Marla mentioned the terrible spell her rival, Susan, was attempting to cast) to be on Susan's side, wishing she would just cast the spell already. Additionally the timing for this terrible spell felt contrived. Marla needed a reason to be in San Francisco and that was it.

Marla is difficult to like as a character, though this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Initially she appears completely amoral (one rule for her, a different rule for everybody else), but she has a strong sense of integrity not readily apparent. Indeed it's only as we come towards the end of the story that you appreciate she does have more depth than it first appears.

Now, for what I loved about this book. It has some of the most original stuff I've read recently in urban fantasy. People being killed by golden frogs and hummingbirds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Persephone on 27 July 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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 artefact hidden somewhere in San Francisco. But when she arrives there, Marla finds that the quest isn't going to be quite as cut-and-dried as she expected and that some of the people she needs to talk to are dead. It seems that San Francisco's top sorcerers are having troubles of their own as a mysterious assailant has the city's magical community in a panic -- the local talent is being picked off one by one.

This book was very hit and miss for me. The dialogue was well written and humourous, but I felt the description and the world building lacked something. Blood Engines felt kind of comic-booky in many ways. There were a lot of interesting and colourful ideas (death by frog!), yet it wasn't enough to feel cohesive. I was still left wondering what the rules of the world were and what ordinary people knew about sorcerers/what they thought about them.

Marla was ok. I thought her amoral-ness would make her interesting (I love morally grey characters) but really, she wasn't interesting at all. She barely experienced any sort of human emotion -- even when her friend Rondeau is in danger she barely makes the effort to feel something for him. I also think the book lacked back-story on the main characters. It started off well, but the character stuff receded too much into the background (pretty much completely) after the initial introductions were made. I was left feeling bored and disconnected with their peril.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 84 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Read! 7 Oct. 2007
By Kathryn M. VanDusen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I first heard about Blood Engines, I was actually on the website of the wonderful Kim Harrison, author of the Hollows series (and if you haven't read it yet, go do it!). Mrs. Pratt has made a stunning entry into the world of scifi/fantasy. Her characters are a bit over the top, but they have a real-world feel to them. It's refreshing to find a female lead who is more than willing to mess with other people's idea of morality in order to protect that which is most important to her- the city of Felport. This book is packed with high-energy and powerful characters, each with a distinct agenda and all with their own quirks.

The book uses a stunning array of mythology, theology, practicality, and action to advance the storyline. The characters' motivations are well explained and detailed, there is more than a little use of humor and shock when dealing with the odd phenomena that seems to happen to Marla and her cohorts, and the villains of the piece are suitably nasty. This is one book I didn't want to put down. The only thing that tended to annoy me were the descriptions- we'd start getting a sense of what was going on from them, and then Marla's distaste for anything but information pertaining to her motivation would cut it off abruptly. Other than that, a great book.
50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Good start to a new series.... 22 Nov. 2007
By Deborah Wiley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sorcerer Marla Mason has to stop Susan Wellstone from casting her spell. If she doesn't, it will have horrific consequences to both Marla and the city she guards, Felport. To stop Susan, Marla has traveled to San Francisco with her partner, Rondeau. But something is wrong in San Francisco, something seriously wrong that is leaving a trail of dead sorcerers. Marla doesn't want to intervene in the business of another city, but she will have to if she has any hope of saving her own city.

BLOOD ENGINES introduces readers to Marla Mason, a sorcerer who at first glance appears to be rather cold and forbidding. T.A. Pratt shows us the glimpses beneath this façade, glimpses that reveal the caring heart of this woman dedicated to protecting and preserving her city. It took me awhile to warm up to Marla, but as the story progresses I learned to admire her willingness to sacrifice even the people and things she cares about for the greater overall good.

T.A. Pratt creates characters who aren't simply good or evil, but rather have shades of both just like anyone else. Bradley "B" Bowman is the easiest character to like, as he doesn't appear to have any artificial artifices and his motives are much more apparent on the surface. Even Rondeau has his darker moments, as his background history is fascinating and I'm hopeful there is a story forthcoming about that. T.A. Pratt also does a fantastic job at incorporating various mythologies and legends into the motivations and histories of the characters, leaving readers with a fascinating tapestry of tales within tales.

BLOOD ENGINES is the first in what looks to be a promising new series. There are some uneven moments as one would expect in any new series, but these issues pale in comparison to the overall premise of this entertaining and fast paced story. BLOOD ENGINES is easily recommended.

COURTESY OF CK2S KWIPS AND KRITIQUES
41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Something new 9 Nov. 2007
By William Hicks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Finally something for those of us who like urban fantasy but are not too fond of romance novels.
A powerful. mostly immoral sorceress, Her possessed sidekick and a former hollywood star are out to save San Francisco, not out of any 'good' motive but because the bad guy has torqued her off and has something she needs to save her own life.
Fans of the Dresden Files and the early Anite blake books should love this, anyone who likes urban fantasy will probably not be disappointed.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Three and a Half Stars 10 Feb. 2008
By Lesley70 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sorcerer Marla Manson is in San Francisco with her companion Rondeau, looking for a magical artefact that could save her life. Back in her hometown of Felport, a rival for her position as guardian of the city, is preparing a spell that could destroy her. Unfortunately the sorcerer who had the artefact has just been murdered. He's only the first victim, and it soon becomes clear that if Marla wants to save herself, she's going to have to save San Francisco and the rest of the world first.

First the stuff I had problems with. The beginning is rather like being hit over the head with a mallet. It's very 'tell the reader what's going on by having two characters talk about a situation they're already aware of'. This info-dumpy style pops up throughout the story. Though it does become less intrusive.

I loved the actual adventuring in San Francisco but found the whole reason for being there, to be weak. Causing me at several points in the story (whenever Marla mentioned the terrible spell her rival, Susan, was attempting to cast) to be on Susan's side, wishing she would just cast the spell already. Additionally the timing for this terrible spell felt contrived. Marla needed a reason to be in San Francisco and that was it.

Marla is difficult to like as a character, though this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Initially she appears completely amoral (one rule for her, a different rule for everybody else), but she has a strong sense of integrity not readily apparent. Indeed it's only as we come towards the end of the story that you appreciate she does have more depth than it first appears.

Now, for what I loved about this book. It has some of the most original stuff I've read recently in urban fantasy. People being killed by golden frogs and hummingbirds. Seers talking to sewer grates and trash cans to confirm their visions. Stealing a child's jawbone to use as an oracle in a jar. The train that doesn't go anywhere. A Giant Frog eating San Francisco. There's loads more packed in there, too much to list here. T.A.Pratt also has a way of painting a picture with words, so you can see the golden frogs hopping about the train station, or an impenetrable wall of hummingbirds.

The character of Bradley is fascinating. Initially dismissed by Marla as not having enough power for her to be interested in. He keeps crossing paths with her, in an intentional unintentional way. Circumstances have granted him power, but he uses it in a convoluted manner, in order to be able to cope with what he can do. Through him we get a completely different view of this world of magic and power, and of Marla.

Finally the dialogue, especially in the second half of the book is really well written.

"...we'll find the Parable Witch, or whatever her name is."
"If it's even a her. Or, rather, if it even appears to be a her. Because, honestly, it's going to be an 'it'."

Blood Engines starts off with a heavy hand, but the author's touch becomes lighter as you read through the story and are pulled into the world. Although at the end I find myself hoping a future book will follow B and Cole (a story I would be chomping at the bit for), I'm happy to see where Marla's arrogance and attitude will take her next.

Poison Sleep - Bk2 - Mar 2008
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Nice introduction to a promising Urban Fantasy series 17 Feb. 2008
By Richard R. Horton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
T.A. Pratt's Blood Engines is a full-blooded, fast-paced, urban fantasy, with perhaps a darker, more cynical, edge than much of that subgenre. It is the beginning of a series, though this book is self-contained, and I suspect the rest will be -- it has the look of a "template" series, like those so common in the mystery genre (see Robert Parker's Spenser books and Sara Paretsky's V. I. Warshawski books, for example). (I note that T. A. Pratt is the name Tim Pratt, author of The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl as well as last year's Hugo winning short story "Impossible Dreams," is using for this new series.)

Marla Mason is the sorcerer who runs the Rust Belt town of Felport. But her rival, Susan Wellstone, plans an intricate spell to overturn her, and Marla's only hope to foil her plans is to find a magical object called a Cornerstone. The only one of which she is aware is in San Francisco, guarded by her old friend Lao Tsung. So she and her sidekick, a not quite human young man called Rondeau, rush across the country -- only to learn that Lao Tsung has been killed, by a horde of South American poison frogs.

Marla needs help from the San Francisco sorcerers to find the Cornerstone. But she soon learns that they are being targeted for elimination by a crazy South American who calls himself Mutex, and who wants to bring back the Aztec gods, complete with blood sacrifice. She and Rondeau begin a sort of whirlwind tour of San Francisco sorcerers, including an Asian herb magician, a practitioner of sex magic, a cybermage, and more. They have one primary ally -- a gay actor named Bradley Bowman who had to quit the movies when he started having prophetic dreams and meeting oracles. And they have several enemies -- Mutex, of course, but also some treacherous sorcerers, and an old god that Marla manages to offend. Besides the magical tour, we get a nice look at some San Francisco history and geography. And a very fast-moving, well-constructed, and not predictable plot.

Besides the plot, I particularly liked the use of magic in this book -- it is fairly logical, and manages mostly to avoid the problem of magical powers scaling conveniently to fit plot needs that plagues so much fantasy. The characters are engaging enough, but I didn't feel I got to know Marla and Rondeau quite enough -- perhaps because they are not on their home turf in this book, perhaps because character developments for them are being saved for future volumes. We do get a good sense that Marla is not by any means a shining heroine -- she is plenty flawed: overconfident, too violent, only too ready to brush aside others in pursuit of her desires. (It is just that the other sorcerers mostly seem even worse!) Bradley Bowman is a nicely drawn character, though, and so too are a number of less important characters, particularly the old god Marla offends, and a San Francisco historical figure who appears late in the game. This is a nice opening to what could be a tasty series of urban fantasy adventures.
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