The Burning Magus

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

JT and Austin are finally facing one of the worst demons of their lives - the wizard Firelight and the heist that went so wrong. The man who killed Austin’s sister, the man who imprisoned them, the man who experimented on them. Now it’s time for a rescue rescue - and a time to do it right

 
I’ve said it before, one of the difficult parts of writing a review of a series is when you love the same thing about the books - because how do you write a review without being repetitive? Take the Blue Unicorn Series - how do I write this review without repeating what I’ve already written twice before?

Because everything I said there still applies. I love this magical cyperpunk world (I am so desperate to start playing Shadowrun every time I play this game). I love the mix of the magical and the technological. I love how the internet is almost a parallel dimension with such real life applications. I love how hacking and spellcasting feel so similar. I love how we can have the combination of druids and wizards with weird sea god patrons. I love the combination of the giant, terrifying dragon and the virtual godzilla which has almost as much destructive potential even though it only exists in cyberspace. This magical cyberpunk setting is excellent

And the dystopian elements are really well maintained as well - there’s no grand “the world is over!” drama nor are they travelling a lot to show the broken world like we saw in Apocalypse Ally. But still there are references, among all the excellent high tech world building, that makes it clear the nations we’re used to no longer exist, that for all the shiny technology there’s also a lot of desperation and  poverty and evidence of things being broken - especially looking at Austin and JT’s past

I also really like the plot. This is a heist book - preparing the team, checking all their skills, balancing everyone, having everyone use their various abilities to get it all together and make it work. And then it all going wrong. Of course it all has to go wrong. But before that I think it’s really cunning and imaginative and was great fun to watch - I think I’d like to see these characters perform successful heists, no violence, just to see them succeed and all the imagination and intelligence. The heist is great.

We also have all the characters here, all prominent in various ways. I think we have a three way protagonist - Austin, JT and Dante with Comet and Buzz being prominent but taking a back seat. I think that was a good plan because this helps us delve a lot into the various character’s issues - we have Dante dealing with being both an Orc (and seen as less and facing a lot of stereotyping) and a Black woman who has also been injured and disabled. She has moments of self doubt, a lot of thinking that she’s unworthy or incapable. She feels out of place but still fights back against that and reasserts her own worth and strength while also showing off their own capability

JT and Austin are gay and in a relationship - if you can call the hot mess of them together a relationship. And I like the messiness - because the messiness definitely follows through their own issues, the issues with elven glamour, their own utter denial and fear of scaring the other away, their own lack of self worth and their own tragic childhood. I know I’m not a fan of over dramatic relationships - but usually that’s because they are usually so very convoluted and unnecessary. But these work, this drama is based solidly on their characters and characterisation - it makes sense.


Their relationship is extremely sexual, joyfully and shamelessly so and it’s definitely attractively written. And while there’s little attention to any kind of living with homophobia, there is some nice exploration not just of self-worth and tensions between sex and love but also challenging a lot of stereotypes we see a lot in gay relationships: like JT being a bottom despite being much much bigger than Austin. And even some interesting elements like JT being insecure about the size of his endowment because of the stereotypes around them

We also have Austin’s sister, a Black woman/elf/program who they are all eager to rescue: and it’s nice to see both a Black woman being the precious person to save but also a woman being someone to save without her being the love interest to one of the rescuing men. And even as Austin’s sister we’ve also got JT caring just as much about rescuing her.

These two are a hot mess, but they’re working through it and it does work. I like them, I like their story, I like their sexiness, I like their contrasts.

Part of me worries that the Blue Unicorn Series may be completed here - trilogies are the in thing after all, and the long glorious series I love so much are distinctly out of fashion. But there is a lot more to work through here - the world is huge, I want to know where the Blue Unicorn goes from here, JT and Austin have so much more to work through and there’s so much more they could do. Buzz, Comet and definitely Dante all have so much more to tell - let there be more
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I was disappointed in this book. It's not that it's bad, but rather that I loved the first one, liked the second one and found this one uninspired. It felt much more rushed. I thought it had too many characters, too much pointless sex and too little pay off. 

To elaborate, all the previous characters are here in this one, so the book felt unfocused. And though I have no problem with sex in my books, like and expect it even, the sex here is largely voyeuristic and too frequently not between the established couples. (So, it adds nothing to strengthen the bond we're supposed to believe exists.) What's more, some of it felt very much like the author went, "Oh, this is SO in right now. I better add it, even if it feels like an after-the-fact add and isn't well stitched into the plot." 

As to pay-off, (this is hard to address without spoilers) questions are presented and not answered, and I didn't feel Allmon made any effort to lead the reader to decide on their own. Instead, the whole thing feels forgotten. A whole important character is introduced and not given any significant page-time (and it really was needed). And bad guys are defeated easily (even ones that took whole books to beat in the past) and simply fade away without fuss. 

All in all, I still like Allmon's writing style. And I like this series. But, when compared with the previous books, The Burning Magus fell extremely flat for me.
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I don't know how to start this review. 

Really.

Genuinely.

It was so much fun!

Yes. 

Yes, that's a good start. 

I can't remember when I've had so much fun with a series. Or when I've read one when the author clearly takes so much joy in their craft. The word 'rollicking' comes to mind but this is a word I have never said aloud and don't think I ever will so 'pissing myself' will simply have to do.

The author makes no secret of being a role-playing aficionado. And a bit of a video game nerd. And--given undertones of how to be queer, sexy orc--a champion of inclusivity. And other things.

If you haven't read the previous two books, stop right here. No. Really. Stop. I am not going to be responsible for you ruining this experience for yourself. Not sure whether to read this? Ha. No. Really, you want to read this. And you want to start book 1 (The Glamour Thieves) where Austin strolls into JT's junkyard in a Hawaiian shirt, delivering a kicka$$ corvette with the sole intention, so it seems, to ogle JT's thighs. But no. That's not what Austin's about. He's about delivering sly smiles that give only the closest insider a hint he's about to lie. Then, he's going to present a JOB. 

Bring on the drones, the tech, the magic...the injuries. 

Book 2 (Apocalypse Alley) introduces (I always have to include 'Daddy') Duke. Mobster. Voyeur. Chef. Buzz from book 1 hooks up with the bionic man...uh...Comet. Finally, we are introduced the baddie Firelight, who makes a formidable foe in book 3 (Burning Magus). 

The characters -- good and bad -- are well developed. The pace is FAST. Things are forever going wrong (to my utter delight). And the HEA is superb.

I cannot say enough about this series. I'm utterly smitten. I think you will be, too. I mean, I don't even know you but I take your future love for this series as fact. Let me know if I'm right...
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Just finished all three books in the Blue Unicorn series. What a great story. First you really do need to read books one and two. You will be lost without them. Now. The whole story deals with an AI. Along with Orcs and Elves also lots of computer stuff. 
This book is the conclusion of the story and what happened to Roan.
Which is Austin's sister and friend to JT. They had a job go bad.
We find out more about that situation is this book. 
There is also some dark wizards. A bit of romance. Some fun and crazy sex.
Also, tentacle sex!! What a wicked fun read. 
You won't be disappointed. Austin and JT are great and there is a corvette too.
Well done.

(Given a copy for an honest review)
(NetGalley)
(Thanks)
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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

JT was a perfectly happy orc building cars in the Arizona desert until his old friend and sometimes lover Austin showed up and talked him into one last crime. Now “one last crime” has snowballed. With a new team of thieves—a supersoldier, a hacker, a driver, a graffiti artist, and a seafaring wizard—JT and Austin are determined to free an artificial intelligence from the dungeon of the Burning Magus.

For JT, this job is more than a prison break; it’s a do-over of The Job That Went Bad two years ago, the catastrophe in which JT lost his closest friend and then chose to abandon everything, even Austin. Maybe this time no one will die. Maybe this time JT can return to Arizona and bury his old life for good.

Except Austin won’t be buried. After two years alone, Austin knows he wants JT—not just as a partner in crime, but as the lover he always should have been. Maybe this time they won’t make the same mistakes, especially when it comes to each other.

With The Burning Magus, Don Allmon brings The Blue Unicorn trilogy to a close and does so in a manner  I've come to expect from this wildly imaginative author.

I've loved and been intrigued by the warped, bleak landscape of the universe that is the setting for this series.  The land and people contorted, twisted, and transformed into "otherness"...orcs, trolls, elves, and more.  History become fabricated, molded, and then worshiped along various lines as was self created religions.  Techno driven cultures, implants, wastelands of the environments and of the soul....nothing that Don Allmon forgot or left uncreated.

That included a trilogy arc of incredible cruelty, betrayal, revenge, loyalty, and love.  All done amidst cars, trucks, gadgetry,magic, and carnage.

Oh, and sex, lots and lots of sex.

All that continues here.

At the end I had to think.  It was as if the author, in his plotting of the final book, started picking up the proverbial narrative grab bag.  "I want that over there, and that, and that."  You, there, honking big thing!,  I want you!"  And Allmon goes for the gusto with every nutso item the writer gets his hand on.  And then brings order to it    There's an skillfully written suspenseful breakin scene!  Talk about action adventure right down to the techno spider thingy.  And a mad getaway.  Heroes in peril multiple times.  Bike chases, stolen cars, boats, AI's who might be alive, and even Godzilla!

Did I mention tentacle sex? And dragons?

And for all this wonderful wild weirdness, Don Allmon doesn't forget that what we as readers crave is the connectivity.  One character to another, the reader to the characters.  It's all about the  emotions, the heart, the love.  That we also get.  Just when we need it the most.

If, at the end of the book, we're left a little spent, exhausted.  Well, that's to be expected.   Look at the path we've trodden together.  We've been shot at, abducted, lied to, wounded, lost our hope and found it again.  Along with love.  That's a trip well spent.  A journey well taken and one I highly recommend.

Cover By: Simoné.  I love these covers by Simoné, they remain some of my favorite.  Perfect for the characters and storyline.  Fantastic!
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This was a great ending to a trilogy that has been a unique, raunchy, sexually charged, but ultimately sweet mash-up of urban fantasy and cyberpunk.

This final book seemed to have less action than the previous two and a slower pace, but I didn’t mind. The characters had some things they needed to sort out, within themselves and with each other. They also had a break-out to plan and prepare for. And there were some chapters that showed us what actually happened during and after The Job That Went Bad. That contributed to the slower pace, but it was important background information because of how it impacted JT and Austin and the current happenings in the story.

There was definitely some sex as well, and some of it was just thrown in there for the hell of it, but the actual sex scenes didn’t overtake the story this time the way they somewhat seemed to in the first book. But even when it wasn’t happening on-page, the book was very sexually charged, which is not a complaint because that’s how all the books have been, and it’s fitting for the characters. There was also one scene that was, ahh… a little different.

Tentacles. There were tentacles. Lots of them.

Although the tentacles may have been a bit extreme for my taste, something I liked was how the sex in this book was not perfect and beautiful. It was definitely enjoyable for the characters, but the author didn’t shy away from some of the less pretty realities. This was also fitting for the characters because they were not the types to have perfect, pretty, sanitized sex. They were the types to get down and dirty and love it.

Speaking of the characters… I love JT and Austin. I love that they’re these rough, tough, criminal, masculine dudes, but they don’t suffer from toxic masculinity. They love. They care. They cry. They feel. And I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them and seeing things through their unique perspectives because they’re both so different from me. The fact that they’re an orc and a elf just made it even better because I love supernatural creatures (plus the elf glamour was really cool and different from any other way I’ve ever seen glamour done).

I also loved their relationship. It was not a traditional romance. Things between them have been so taut and difficult since the first book because of the history between them. Mistakes have been made on both sides. But they’ve always cared about and wanted each other, that much was clear. And they have a great, raw chemistry. And whenever they were honest and open and vulnerable with each other, it was amazing.

There was also the interesting cyberpunk aspect of the story. It was mostly technology that was already in the previous books, but it was still so unique, and the author just throws the reader right into the world and lets you figure things out from context instead of stopping the narrative to explain.

Orcs, elves, advanced technology, crime, evil wizards, sex, romance—this series has been a really interesting combination of things, and I found this to be a satisfying ending to an enjoyable story!
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I started this series with this book. I was a little confused at first but enjoyed it. Mainly complex character driven which I like. A little too much romance for my taste but overall a good book. I read another reviewers comment on the romance and said I would have gotten more out of it if I had read one and two. Net galley offered this one for an honest review so that is why I started here.  Some funny moments and a lot of good weirdness (tentacles and foxes were my favorite ones).  I would call this an Urban Fantasy with a lot of extra things thrown in.
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So, I read #1, and now I've read this one, and while some of the back and forth in time was a little confusing, it wasn't like I missed any major plot points that I could tell. I have to say, finally seeing these two sort out their Happily Ever After, despite piles of trouble only Austen and JT could generate, was awesome. If you enjoy weird, funny, touching and wild fantasy, this is your series. (Those words also apply to the nookie, including a dose of tentacle, just fyi.)
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Enjoyable science fiction, well written and with characters at the center.  I would recommend this engaging book for a variety of readers.
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The first book in this trilogy will always be my favorite of the three. There's something about plunging into a new (& in this case - wild) world for the first time but this was a very satisfying conclusion.

We get solid resolutions on several fronts - the Blue Unicorn and JT & Austin's relationship. All the gang is back and working together (mostly) or working out their baggage (mostly) and we learn more about "The Job That Went Bad".

It's difficult to balance the often outlandish, sexually charged, adrenaline rush of this series with softer emotions and complex relationships but Allmon pulls it off. You just roll with whatever he throws at you - Orc's, Fae? Sentient computer programs & cars? Cyborg assassins? Magical foxes? Tentacle porn? Sure! That makes sense...lol - and care about the outcome for all involved. 

There were a few nitpicky things that I was left wondering about - like how other characters kept alluding to JT being special but never really saying why and I wish Nebraska (Austin's familiar) didn't disappear for the rest of the book after the big show down.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend this as a stand alone. Jt and Austin's complicated relationship spans all three books (although book #2, Apocalypse Alley features a different couple) and the Blue Unicorn arc & several character arc's make this a series that you need to read in order.

If you enjoy over the top UF/fantasy/cyberpunk with a gaming vibe - complex, flawed characters and really raunchy sex lol I highly recommend this original and addictive series.
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