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on 6 May 2017
Ray Lilly is an ex-con who's managed to fall into employment as an expendable assistant to Annalise, a somewhat inscrutable and entirely ruthless member of some sort of magical secret police. There's something nasty going on in Hammer Bay, Washington - a deep, dark, nasty cthonic squirming something with the promise of a high tentacular quotient - and they're tasked with finding out what's going on and doing whatever it takes to make sure that it stops. Well, to be more exact, Annalise is; Ray is what in Star Trek terms is usually referred to as a red shirt. Let's say he's on a temporary contract. He's not expected to survive long enough to require more than a few changes of clothes.

This is a chaotic book that just drops you right into the action. Much of the book reminds me of the sorts of 1980s movies in which Schwarzenegger (or whoever) gets put into a position in which huge numbers of forgettable henchmen show up for reasons not worth committing to memory, then our hero has to fight his way out, then another crisis asserts itself, then our hero has to fight his way through them again. Human life is not the most valued commodity of this team, particularly Annalise, who exhibits a combination of trigger-happy attitude and flat affect. Maybe that doesn't sound very appealing, but I rather like gritty 1980s determined-psycho-bloke-with-weapon-takes-out-bad-guys movies, so all I can say is it worked for me. I hesitated between giving this book four and five stars, but in the end, I went for five because this book grabbed my attention and held it. I resented having to put my ebook reader down when I went to sleep last night. I'm likely going to buy the second one now.
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on 19 January 2012
Magic is bad. very bad. Mostly it'll kill you. Sometimes It'll kill your family and leave you forgetting they ever existed.
More rarely it is useable as a spell , but then it attracts attention from the predators of the empty spaces or worse from Raymond Lilly and his boss Analise.

Raymond is a gopher for the now only slightly human sorceress Analise. Her job and that of most sorcerors, to track down, contain and destroy spellbooks. Why - because every spell draws unhealthy attention to earth from the malign or just mindless powers of the unseen spaces. And it doesnt help that sorcerors are jealous of their magic too.

Raymond made the cardinal mistake of learing a spell and then getting caught. Now its work as a spell hunter - or end up killed by them. He's a wonderfully out of his depth excon with a single spell whos trapped between extradimensional horrors and a boss who all seem to want him killed.

Immensely enjoyable , desperately serious , blisteringy dark take on lovecrafts 'from beyond'. Any fan of Harry Dresden or of Charles Stross's laundry books will love this. The two main characters Raymond and Analise are both fascinating. The lack of traditional magic and fantasy elements leaves you intrigued as to what the next page will bring. Given the modern take on lovecraft its normally nothing good.

Fabulous first book. Couldnt put it down, had to read it to the end.
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on 3 September 2011
Okay, if you don't like anything fantastical or supernatural, my advice would be to look away now. But you'll be missing good reads. Your loss.

There's no vampires, werewolves or angels in these books, although there is quite a lot of magic. I read it right after finishing one of Charles Stross's Laundry books and it seemed to fit right in.
Ray Lilly is a recently released, ex-con with interesting tattoos that protect him from a lot of violent things - and some magic. His boss, Annalise, is part of a consortium doing its level best to project the rest of the world from rampant, uncontrolled magic and Ray is just supposed to be the driver. And, if he steps out of line, she's going to kill him.

Magic is dangerous and every time they turn around some moron's found a spell book and is creating more havoc. The numpties are forever summoning strange creatures from neighbouring universes whose sole purpose is to consume the denizens of our planet - it appears we're quite tasty...

I really enjoyed <em>Child of Fire</em> - it's a good read for me, as I like fast-paced thrillers a lot and the premise of this one was definitely interesting. It's got great characters and a spooky town that is like the <em>Stepford Wives</em> multiplied by 100!
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on 14 September 2015
This book was my first introduction to Ray Lilly and his adventures with Annalise Powliss and the Twenty Palace Society. I'm not quite sure how I have missed Harry Connolly's books - I was surprised to see some of my other favourite authors quoted on his covers.

I bought this first and having consumed the book (!) rapidly, I purchased the other three immediately as they are that enjoyable! Fast paced with engaging characters based in an 21st century urban environment with magic being hidden from society.

His style has 'some' similarities to Jim Butcher's books and I think if you enjoyed those, you should really try these.

Well done Mr Connolly.
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on 27 April 2011
This book was recommended to me by Charles Stross (yes the author) on the basis that I enjoyed his "Laundry" series. I'd endorse this as a reason for buying this series.

There are similarities, like both series being set in contemporary Worlds where "magic" in some form works. There are differences too, like the Laundry being part of the UK Civil Service, and 20 Palaces being extra-governmental (I think), which has effects on how the main protagonists interact with each other, and with their controls.
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on 4 May 2017
Loved it. it's disturbing and gritty yet readable. Ray is thrown in the deep end and has to learn to survive. You know who did it early on yet the twists and turns keep you riveted to see how how he gets through it.
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on 8 March 2013
I truly recommend this to any Jim Butcher fan out there. Give this series and it's hero some time and attention, you won't regret it.
The Twenty Palaces series is grittier and more violent than Butcher's Dresden series, but just as entertaining.
A great read.
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on 23 March 2015
too much unrelated and unjustified violence...not enough story
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on 19 June 2013
Brought for a birthday present, receiver was very pleased with it. Nothing else that I need to say on the subject
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on 18 May 2017
Gripping novel in overlooked and underrated series.
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